Finding the Freedom to Take a Journey to Success.
In my last article I talked about falling prey to the false reality of being a prisoner of hope. My objective with this article is to show you ways in which to free yourself and operate in reality. Prisoners of hope abandon the single most important principle that helps fuel their journey to success: embracing risk. Instead, they conjure up a new reality filled with false solutions and procrastination masked by artificial optimism. To be free from the prison of hope means we must return to the core principle that allowed us to move forward at the beginning. We must recognize that opportunity and risk are forever connected; pursuing an opportunity means also embracing risk. As a prisoner, we lose sight of this important relationship by thinking that we can avoid failure by avoiding risk. Opportunities are not one-time occurrences; they are continuous events that present themselves throughout our entire career. Avoiding risk causes us to miss opportunities such as solving a problem that reignites a stagnated individual's enthusiasm.
Commitment Leads to Enthusiasm
At the age of sixty-five, Colonel Harland Sanders set out in his car to promote his fried chicken recipe and to sell franchises. After receiving more than a thousand rejections and traveling thousands of miles, he finally sold his first franchise, which became Kentucky Fried Chicken, which now has more than seventeen thousand locations. This success story might have been an anonymous footnote in history had he simply given up only one attempt earlier.
Experience tells me that when the siren calls you to abandon a dream because the road is difficult, littered with failures or setbacks, or something else appears to be easier, you become a prisoner of hope. There is no gauge, manual, or rule of thumb that you can refer to that provides an answer for pressing forward or accepting defeat. When pressed for an answer to the question, “When is enough enough?” I'll say that if you and your family's well-being and survival are threatened, then you need to do some soul searching. Otherwise, taking the risk to remain committed greatly outweighs the burden of knowing you were on the cusp of success only to fall short.
When you commit to your goal of building a successful career or business, that should be where your focus is concentrated, provided you do not destroy your family and personal life as a result of this commitment. Making a commitment is a long-term obligation to see something through to the end, whatever the end might be. Along the way, as you work to accomplish your goal, the world distracts you with activities, events, and opportunities that might appear better than the one you are pursuing. Add into the mix difficult moments when the world seems to work against you, and you may be tempted by the trap of giving up your dream for the allure of other opportunities.
The inspiration for reaffirming your commitment is the many success stories, like Colonel Sanders', about someone who realizes victory when it appears that obstacles are too great to overcome; in other words, stories about individuals who seemed to be at an inevitable end and yet ultimately persevered and succeeded.
The Joy of Motivation
Motivation is what pushes us beyond planning to taking action and executing a plan. It is the external expression of our internal desire: to seek happiness by meeting a personal objective. Seeking happiness as a goal makes us take action to reach that goal. Motivation alters perceived risk, and it drives us to act to succeed. What some people see as an unacceptable risk, like leaving a high-paying executive position with a successful company to start a small business, is viewed by motivated individuals as only a temporary impediment toward reaching a goal �" being an entrepreneur. The bigger risk is to avoid leaving the high paying job and having to live with regret the rest of your life.
This is the essence of an entrepreneur's acceptance of risk: motivation driven by internal desire that causes external action, and the journey to success moves forward. To stay with the status quo, or with an unfulfilling job or career, is laying the foundation for a life of regret.
The prisoner of hope incorrectly sees motivation as the sole source of success. Motivation is not blind ambition or reckless behavior, however. To quit a job without a plan is foolish and potentially fatal. Combine your motivation with a good plan and equally committed people, and your chances for success are greater.
Self-reliance Becomes Self-confidence
Lose your self-confidence and you can become as scared and trapped as a kitten stuck in a tree, even though you possess the ability to get yourself down. Your confidence to embrace the risk of pursuing a goal somehow erodes, and circumstances make you a prisoner of hope. All you need to do to free yourself is regain your self-confidence. Launching a business or changing jobs takes a great deal of confidence; once you begin your journey to success, circumstances, situations, and events encountered along the way can take a toll on your self-confidence. Negative emotions such as fear, self-doubt, and even anger begin to infiltrate your mind, and the forward motion of your journey slows.
Here are three ways to regain your self-confidence
- Accept that even the most experienced leaders have moments of self-doubt
- Build your confidence through teamwork �" there is strength in numbers
- Return to the fundamentals �" all success is based on simple principles
Know when to admit you are wrong
Admitting you are wrong, whether in business or personal life, is difficult. We all hate to admit we are wrong, and reasons are too numerous, but the bottom line is it's traced to pride. It is a blow to our egos to admit we were wrong.
It takes courage to admit to and face the reality of being wrong. We must release ourselves from the bonds of our pride-based hope and get real. Admitting mistakes encroaches on another psychological barrier: accepting loss. Along with monetary or strategic losses, there is an emotional loss waiting for us when we finally have the courage to stop and alter direction. Failing to come to terms with a mistake only wastes more resources, and more important, keeps us from pursuing other opportunities.
Prisoners of hope who stubbornly cling to their failed idea are avoiding redemption. Self-justification blinds this person when the goal is preserving the status quo or avoiding mistakes. Redemption, or accepting a mistake, makes you stronger and gives you the ability to withstand the trying moments that certainly lie in the future. To escape the prison of hope, a leader must continuously embrace risk, be committed to success and find motivation from that commitment. However, it is equally noble and courageous to know when an idea or initiative is not going to succeed and therefore must be terminated so you can continue freely on your journey to success. Next I will show how a culture of failure can produce an ever-flowing stream of innovation and creativity.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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