Potholes on the Road to Success

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Obstacles to achieving your goals manifest themselves in your attitude, in the guise of other people and sheer bad luck. But the right frame of mind and learning the necessary skills, can help you fulfill your potential and get you exactly where you want to go.

There’s a man in Ireland who has appointed himself ‘pot-hole filler’. You could say he’s a bit like a fairy godfather, making them disappear overnight. But he’s a one-off. No baron, angel or saint will smooth the way to success before our feet. We’ve got to watch where we’re going or we’ll trip up, break something, or give up and retrace our steps.

The obstacles in our road to success tend to appear unawares, and as our skill in driving increases, so does our knack of surmounting the holes. Experience is invaluable.

Obstacles are inevitable

We’d all willingly stay home for a week if some government would promise to fill in all the holes in that time. Yet contrary to our wishes, potholes can’t just be filled in quickly. Preparation work needs to be made, and sometimes an even bigger hole made for the patch to adhere.

Our roads are undoubtedly a metaphor for the obstacle course of the road to success. While potholes are inevitable and trigger off our national ‘m’hemmx x’taghmel’ mentality, you can do something about the obstacles that threaten to thwart your success. Like a pinball wizard, you want and need to get the ball beating into the end zone without it falling prey to a hole.

So give it enough whack. The single most important quality you need is courage. It takes courage to stretch your limits, express your power and fulfil your potential. It takes courage to live honestly and be true to the desire of wanting more. It is often simply a lack of belief that holds you back from achieving your dreams. Deep down, you don’t think you can do it. However, no matter what your upbringing, social status or present education, you can improve your life.

Blow your own trumpet

A top defence lawyer’s number plate reads ‘IXL 100’. Do you excel 100 per cent, no matter what line of work you are in? Do you take pride in your job and hold to your own high standards?

Ever wondered how come politicians don’t get as fed up as you do about the potholes on our roads? It’s because they are better equipped, with enormous cars with super suspension, so that they just ride roughshod over the bumps.

Yes, life can be easier for the rich and famous, but you can improve the equipment you’ve got.

Why do immigrants tend to excel? They go with the idea of a promised land full of opportunity, and they are determined to succeed. Even refugees risk their lives if desperate. Necessity is the mother of invention. Once you’ve had enough punctures you’ll understand why everyone else is swerving like drunkards. It’s called evasive action.

Concentrate on your goals and don’t be distracted, neither by fellow travellers nor by entertainments. Plan your route. Stay alert. Be prepared. If you can’t manage the challenges this route is throwing at you, choose another. You don’t have to make life difficult for yourself – you always have a choice.

Who’s driving your car?

Does it have twin steering? Triple, maybe? In the back of your mind can you hear your mother and wife/husband nagging, are you still trying to live up to dad’s status?

Oh how we blame our parents for all of our shortcomings. If you do feel that your childhood has had a negative effect on you, understand why it happened, forgive the people involved, learn new habits and positive beliefs, and move on. If you know a hole is there, you’d be really foolish to hit it time and time again. Learn and improve.

It’s also inevitable that gremlins will come along and create potholes overnight. Who are the gremlins? Anyone who is envious of you, undermined by you or afraid of your success. It might be a university lecturer, a parent, sibling, colleague or so-called friend. Your success may make someone else feel a failure.

Mention a dream and almost as though on automatic, you’ll be regaled with: ‘Don’t take risks, you’re better safe than sorry, you’d be mad to, the economy’s looking bad’ etc. etc. Learn to listen to your own intuition and determine who your true supporters are.

What is success, anyway?

‘I will be a success when I have EUR 100,000 in the bank, an apartment on The Front, a Ferrari and a 60-foot Sunseeker’. ‘I will be a success when I have been made floor manager’. ‘I will be a success when I have managed to balance work and home life’. Every adult needs to define his/her own criteria for success. Mark Twain believed that happiness was getting paid to do what you love.

You may need to build up your muscles along the way, intellectual, physical and emotional. Arnold Schwarzenegger says that there are only two requirements to reshaping your body: that you know what you want; and that you are willing to expend the effort to achieve it. ‘You have to learn to think of your body and mind as a single unit. If you are serious about changing your body, you have to start by changing your mind. Now go ahead and be the person you want to be.

‘Age doesn’t matter. Get to know your body, decide what changes you need to make, and keep a notebook of improvements. It has been proven that you are more likely to accomplish goals if you’ve written them down. You’ll have an accurate gauge of your progress and you’ll be able to see how much you have changed with each month.’ His wise words can easily be used as an example of the attitude to success in any sphere of life.

Feedback on results is the number one motivator of people. Set your goals, and check how your performance and behaviour match your goals. We are not just our behaviour, we are the person managing the behaviour. There’s a cute story about a successful local businessman who has his ‘O’ level certificates framed and hung up in his office (he didn’t even get excellent grades). They are a constant reminder of his achievements.

Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back

Everyone is a potential winner. People who feel good about themselves produce good results.

There are zillions of self-help books out there. Variations on a theme maybe, but you are bound to find one that will appeal to you in style and content. Suzie Orman, author of ‘The Courage to be Rich’, shows how to face the fears and guilt that may be lurking in your attitude towards money. These often stem from childhood experiences. Why not gain at least one new insight from a book, if there is no one in your life who can be a mentor? Autobiographies can also be inspiring. The public library is a minefield of information, all free, so no excuses.

You can’t know everything, but you can learn how to access info and put it into use. Be on top of the legal and financial issues that affect your life. Learn to spot the trends in your career and work with them.

The essence of knowledge is, having it, to use it.

Procrastination is poison to any successful endeavour. Time is finite, and we all have the same amount. Do what needs to be done now. Be efficient and effective, doing first things first. Do you leave things till they are urgent? Figure out why you cling to this toxic habit.

Eyes right

Argument between man and wife: ‘Didn’t you see that hole?’ ‘Yes I ***** well saw it.’ ‘Then why did you hit it?’ ‘I couldn’t help it.’

If you look at the pothole, you will head right for it. Instead, focus on where you need to be going to get round it. Moral? Get out of harm’s way. Focus on the positive and don’t wallow in a victim mentality. Your attitude is paramount. Cultivate a positive attitude in whatever (natural) way you can, whether spiritual, physical or emotional. Do what needs to be done. Work hard, and stop worrying about things you cannot change. Surround yourself with like-minded people.

You can have and do anything you want, but you can’t have and do everything you want. There’s not enough time, energy and resources. So choose what you want to achieve, and let go of everything else. ‘There is no security in this life, only opportunity’, said General Macarthur. Those potholes are not hindrances, but challenges to be overcome. Instead of swearing at them, let’s count how many we’ve passed on our way to our destination.

Be bold and take one step closer to your dream, today. Remember, if you’re not busy making your dreams come true, you’re making someone else’s.

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