Do you ever feel like where life just wears you down? I did this week. Nothing particularly bad happened, but I have been cranky, tired and feeling rather sorry for myself. So it was a true gift when I happened upon a blog posting by Russell Shaw, a very successful Realtor here in the Phoenix area, where he mused about how he achieved his success. The message really hit home for me so much so, that I am writing this blog posting about my own pursuit of success. The ideas apply to whatever goals you hope to achieve.
When I got divorced, I had a choice about how to support me and my family. I could have gone back into engineering – my skills were rusty after 9 years out of the industry – or I could develop my fledgling career as a Realtor. I was a new agent, and really hadn’t intended to make real estate my full time pursuit, but real estate offered me three things that engineering did not:
1. A flexible schedule to allow me to be there for my kids
2. The ability to control my own success
3. The opportunity to do something I really and truly love to do.
So I chose to stick with real estate. But here’s the thing…there’s choosing a path and then there’s committing yourself to follow that path and I am learning – the hard way! – that the difference between the two is what determines success. In Russell Shaw’s blog, as in much of the expert commentary about success, success comes when you decide to succeed. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? We all want to succeed…I mean who in their right mind would ever say, “I don’t want to succeed”? But wanting to succeed is not the same as deciding to succeed. Every day, I learn more and more about what that really means.
Deciding to succeed means that you have decided that success is non-negotiable, that there is no other option. Deciding to succeed means you embrace the notion that you alone are responsible for your results – it’s not luck, or tricks or gimmicks. It’s a mindset, a way of life. One of my favorite quotes is from Carlos Casteneda: “The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.” Deciding to succeed means you have decided to become a warrior.
Real estate is a tough business. Most licensed real estate agents – the vast majority – fail. The numbers are staggering. And even those who do not fail, fail to succeed. A very small percentage of real estate agents actually make enough money year after year to support themselves. Why? Because to be successful in real estate, as in any business, takes more effort and dedication than most people can imagine. When you alone are responsible for your own success – when you are an entrepreneur – if you do not truly believe you will succeed – you are guaranteed to fail.
Russell Shaw talks about one advantage he has over other realtors who have achieved great success. He was only moderately successful for the first 12 years of his career. That might not sound like much of an advantage,but it wasn’t until he made a conscious choice to succeed that he did succeed. Not until he dedicated himself to his own goals for success was he able to achieve those goals. He now has the power to decide his destiny. He knows success does not happen by chance.
I believe I have an even greater advantage – I am a single mom, raising 4 boys. I used to think of this as a disadvantage for me, but in the long run, it has made me stronger in my pursuit of success. It is a highly motivating situation. Even in the best of circumstances, my situation means that I have a lot of distractions from business, and life has thrown us a few curve balls in the last three years, so it has been really, really hard. But here’s the thing. The harder it gets, the more committed I have to be to success. Every day when I just want to give up, I have to ask myself how committed am I to my own success. For me, anything less than success is simply not an option if I want to raise my family and show them a life that is not just scratching out a living. For me, any set-back is simply a challenge that I need to overcome, an obstacle in the way of my path to success. I have no choice but to continue on that path towards success.
There’s a link the Shaw’s blog post to a short video called 212 Degrees. You need to check it out. The 212 degrees refers to the boiling temperature of water. At 211 degrees, water is very hot, but when it reaches 212, it boils and produces steam. And steam can power a locomotive. There is a very big difference from just that one degree. The smallest difference often separates the good from the great. It’s not the level of difficulty that keeps you from reaching your goal but the unrelenting progress that comes from many, many small steps forward. That boiling water started off at room temperature, and slowly heats degree by degree until it finally boils. Each degree increase in temperature moves that water closer to the boiling point.
In the video, there is a quote that I love: To get what we’ve never had, we must do what we’ve never done. I have never experienced the level of success that I want to achieve, but I honestly believe that it is possible to get there. There have been many times over the last three years when life took its toll on me and forced me to evaluate my choices. This path is not without sacrifice. I do not know yet how close I am to the boiling point of success – am I at 180 degrees? 200? Maybe I am one degree away from the boiling point…do you think I am going to give up now?? No way.
For those of you seeking your own success – whether it is running a business, losing weight, or buying a house, know this. The only thing that stands in your way is your belief that success is possible.