There is a myth peddled by motivational speakers and believed by many. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent by people who want to learn how to do what the myth says. And there are many who swear that their immense success is due to their adherence to this fairy tale.
Believe it if you must. You may achieve success. Even great success. But you will pay a heavy price and you will not recognize the price you paid.
The myth is this – if you want success, you must crave it with every fiber of your being. Tennis players who are talented enough to defeat top ten players, but never make it to the top themselves, are derided for not ‘being hungry enough.’ Ditto in other sports.
You are told to visualize your desired outcome in detail and then constantly think about it. You must keep it ‘top of mind’ all the time.
And then you have a better chance of ‘succeeding’.
I beg to differ.
Desperately wanting anything is a repelling force.
I once addressed the chief human resources executives of the world’s largest companies. Many were responsible for more than 100,000 employees. I asked them if they had ever interviewed a candidate who wanted the position so badly that it emanated from them like a miasma.
Everyone raised their hand.
I asked them if they had hired that person.
Only one had. And she said, “I regretted it almost immediately.”
Here is something you need to know: when you desperately want something, anything, you are affirming that you do not have it. And this affirmation is picked up and magnified and broadcast.
I know many coaches and consultants who are competent but struggling. They wonder why so many great conversations lead nowhere and wonder if they should reduce their fee. Or do more and better ‘marketing’.
They would be better served if they gave up their need for matters to turn out the way they want them to.
By all means set a goal for yourself. Make it a stretch goal. An ambitious goal.
Having set the goal, forget about it. Don’t give it another thought. The purpose of the goal is to establish the direction you wish to travel. Once that is done, focusing on the goal is a distraction.
Instead, pour all your attention and emotional energy into the actions you must take to achieve your goals. If you want to move up in a corporate hierarchy, come up with a plan for doing so. It will probably involve some combination of doing great work, taking initiative to go beyond your role and cultivating those who could help you along.
Then execute the plan and put all your attention on that execution. Do not obsess about whether your plan is ‘working’. You will check from time to time to see if a slight course correction is warranted but this will not involve emotional entanglement with whether you are ‘achieving’ your goal.
When you are genuinely non-attached to whether you achieve your goal, the probability you will actually do so increases greatly.
Imagine you are in a negotiation. You are never in a stronger position than when you are genuinely prepared to walk away.
It works the same way in your life.
If you want great success, rid yourself of the need for it. Develop the deep knowing that you would like to have it, but you do not need it and are perfectly fine with not having it.
And then you find that success comes knocking.
Open the door and let it in.