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Renew Your Dreams, Create Authentic Success
Authentic Success: On Your Own Terms
Revive Your Dreams, Renew Yourself, Create What You Long For
"Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born." — Dale E. Turner
Even though we're not always conscious of it, we do what would comprise authentic success for ourself. We do know what we want, and who we want to be. Abraham Maslow said that we long to be “that which we glimpse in our most perfect moments.”
We've all had glimpses of the potential perceived in those moments. But, too often, we're afraid to stretch for that authentic success. So we fail to live up to that potential. As the years pass and we fail to act on what we think we could be, the glimpses fade. Instead of filling us with hope, our fantasies of success often trigger doubts, regret, and fear. In the success of others, we recognize our own failed potential.
We wonder, "Why can’t I have the life and work that I long for? Why can't I succeed on my terms? Why can't I create authentic success?"
A Recipe for Mediocrity
Succeeding on your own terms is about creating what truly matters to you. However, most of us do not consciously know how to create what we want. So, instead we habitually react or respond to circumstances.
We focus our precious life energy on trying to solve pressing problems. We succeed at things we think we “should” succeed at. We let other people and their success principles guide us. But, because many of those principles don’t work in these rapidly changing times, they don't help. Although they may lead to a version of success, it is rarely authentic success.
At best, for example, conventional career planning is an out-dated form of personal strategic planning. You assess resources, note problems and weaknesses, set “realistic” goals, and then, possibly, take action. You fit your goals to what you know you can do, and afford.
It sounds reasonable, but it doesn't work.
Strategic planning, success experts tell us, is usually neither. As this kind of strategy bloomed in the late 20thC, success became elusive. Learning community guru Peter Senge says that setting goals to fit with your capacity has caused many business—and individuals—to fail. Fitting your goals to current capacity and resources is a recipe for mediocrity.
When you fit your goals to what you have, and what you can do now, you limit yourself. You cut yourself off from the potential revealed in those perfect moment glimpses. So you settle for less. You set realistic goals. But they don't motivate you. You set your goals lower. Through this process Senge calls "the eroding goal syndrome, your goals dwindle away, perhaps to nothing. Authentic success eludes you.
Stretch: Revive Your Dreams; Renew Your Potential
To renew yourself, you have to renew and rejuvenate your dreams. You have to revive the visions of yourself that you glimpsed in your most perfect moments.
Remember the old saying, “Set no small goals for they lack the power to stir our souls.” It's true. Small, "fit" goals do not engage and excite us. They do not move us to action, learning, and results. Successful goal-setters don't fit; they stretch for what truly matters—in spite of capacity.
In the words of consultant Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, those who create real and lasting success set BHAGS (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). They create a “chasm” between their vision and their current capacity. Creating stretch between vision and reality is one of most important tasks success seekers can undertake. This kind of stretch underlies the process of creating.
“Creators,” my mentor Robert Fritz says, “are sometimes conventional, but more often inventional.” They know what they want. They know what they have. And they know how to bridge the gap between the two.
How? Simple, he says, “They invent it. They make it up!”
Authentic Success: Creating What Truly Matters to You
There's no forumula for success, but there is a form in which the success you create is most likely to be the authentic success that you long for. The following steps comprise that form.
Step 1: Craft a Vision of Your Desired Result
All creators begin with a vision — a clear, compelling picture of a result they want to create. Take those glimpses from your most perfect moments, and make them shine with clarity. Flesh them out. Make them concrete. Make them so engaging that when you read them out loud, you get goosebumps!
Your visions don't have to be perfect; they just have to be clear enough that you'd recognize a result when you create it. And you don’t even have to believe the result is possible, or have to have all the skills or resources when you start. You just have to have the desire, and the vision, to start.
So, do not fit your goals to reality: stretch. In fact, the bigger the gap between your goal and current reality, the more energy you'll generate for creating. And the greater chance you'll have of creating authentic success.
Step 2: Ground Vision in Current Reality
Although successful action is driven by vision, you must be careful to ground it in an honest assessment of current reality. Be objective about reality. Making things better than they are, or worse, distorts reality. It makes your base less solid.
Describe reality, don’t judge it! Doing so will give you a solid platform, and generate you more power for action. Much of that power will come from dynamic, creative tension.
Step 3: Set Up, Hold, and Use Creative Tension
Creative tension comes from holding vision and reality in mind at the same time. Creative tension produces excitement, anticipation, a desire to act, and a strong tendency toward movement.
Creative tension is the engine of creativity, the source of success. Creative tension arises out of the gap between what you want and what you have. It sets up a magnetic pull, an attraction.
Your challenge is to use that tension to move your actions toward desired results. Vision is important, but creative tension generates the power to create. Resolving creative tension through action-learning is how creators "make it up!"
Step 4. Take Action. Create and adjust, create and adjust …
If creating is anything, it is a learning process. Working within the structure—the possibility field—of creative tension, take action, learn from your results, make adjustments, and gradually shape the completed result that you long for.
This will take plenty of practice and persistence. But the sooner you make your first 5000 mistakes, the sooner you'll learn to create. In creating, there is no failure, just feedback!
So as they say in high tech innovation, "Fail fast, learn lots, succeed sooner!"
Step 5: When Reality Matches Your Vision, Stop. Celebrate!
Creators know when a creation is finished. When current reality matches your vision, stop: you're done. They also know how to use the energy of completion—and celebration—to move on to their next creation. When Picasso was asked what was his favorite painting, he quickly replied, "My next one!"
Succeeding On Your Own Terms
Every time, you catch a glimpse of what you truly want to create, or be, use this five-step process. Each time you do, you'll renew and rejuvenate your dreams, and yourself—and increase your chances of creating authentic success.
To succeed on your terms, stretch, don't fit. Clearly specify and articulate the results you most want. Clarify reality. Then bridge the gap between vision and reality with persistent, creative action, learning, and more action.
When I first suggest this approach to clients, some are initially skeptical.
“It sounds like a lot of work,” they say.
But, once they grasp the power of the creative process to produce outstanding results with limited resources, they admit, “Well, the approach I use now doesn’t generate the results I want. Maybe this can help me become what I’ve always imagined I could be.”
In most cases, they’re right.
So, take time to tune into to those glimpses of your most perfect moments. Revive the dreams hidden in them. Renew your commitment to what really matters. Doing so will not only rejuvenate your dreams; it'll renew you, too. And success on your own terms—authentic success— will become a real possibility!
Bruce is the author of Simplicity and Success, THRIVE! and The ABCs of Emotional Mastery.
For more of his writing, please visit his HubPages Profile.