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Learn more about becoming successful.
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Posted April 1, 2007

ABC's of Success: Making Your Dream Come True

Sally A. Connolly

"To follow without halt, one aim; there is the secret of success. And success? What is it? I do not find it in the applause of the theater; it lies rather in the satisfaction of accomplishment." (Anna Pavlova)

Any success in life involves a blending of mind and heart with action. Only by committing our intellect, will, time, and energy can we achieve that Olympic gold, that certificate of appreciation, or that "A" on a spelling test.

When we look at high achievers in any field or endeavor, we see common elements. Whether we want to follow their lead and go for the gold or whether we want to set less ambitious goals or none at all, the model is there and the decision is ours.

The ABC's of winning:

A: ACCOMPLISHMENT. We conceptualize an achievement or goal, such as running a three-minute mile, winning an election, or losing 20 pounds of excess body fat.

B: BELIEF. We believe that our objective is achievable, that is, within human grasp. Playing Rachmaninoff's concerto or growing a 1000-pound pumpkin must be, for us, a real possibility.

C: CONFIDENCE. We believe that we are capable of achieving the goal. This self-confidence builds gradually from birth as we internalize the views and feelings of the people significant in our lives. When even our minor accomplishments are recognized, approved, and rewarded, our self-confidence grows; and when these positive self-images combine with inherent talent, accomplishment is unlimited.

"When I was a child, my mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you'll be a general; if you become a monk, you'll end up as the Pope.' Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso."

By believing in, first, the achievability of a goal and, second, our ability to reach the goal, we set the stage for action and a self-fulfilling prophecy.

"If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can't, you're right." (attributed to both Henry Ford and Mary Kay Ash)

D: DESIRE. At this point our values enter the picture. Is it more important to become a firefighter or an American Idol? Our value system will shape our personal decisions about what is and what is not worth pursuing.

Kaitlyn, six years of age and in the first grade, outdistances her peers on the track. Her red shoe markers-earned for every five miles completed-are multiplying quickly. Will she see her newly-discovered ability as worthy of her passion and dedication? Will she choose to devote time and energy to pursuing track records or other unrelated accomplishments? What she deems worthy will direct her decision.

If the goal is deemed worthy of pursuit and we decide to achieve it, we must also be willing to dedicate our time and energy in order to attain it.

E: EFFORT and ENTHUSIASM. We establish an effective step-by-step action plan, and we exert effective effort. The stories of the most accomplished persons illustrate the time and energy needed to perfect a golf swing or to become a prima ballerina. "Practice makes perfect," our mothers told us. Vince Lombardi put it this way: "Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work."

Sustained effort requires a passion and zeal truly our own. What once may have been the dream of others for us, translates into accomplishment only when the burning desire becomes lodged deep in our hearts.

"Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire." (Arnold H. Glasow)

F: FOLLOW THROUGH. We follow through with constancy of purpose and dedication, and we allow any failures to be merely temporary setbacks. Tenacity and persistence are messages many children hear around the dinner table and on the playing field: "The Connollys don't quit," "Don't give up, and don't give in," or "Quitters never win, and winners never quit."

Success, thus, means following the lead set by exemplars of excellence. First, look carefully at your interests and find something you are passionate about. Look realistically at the skills you currently possess as well as your potential for enhancing them or acquiring new ones. Rather than a headlong, helter-skelter dash, set a plan and bolster your self-confidence by focusing on minor accomplishments. Don't be surprised by setbacks, and don't be fearful of them. Detours on the road to success are only temporary glitches; work through them and keep your eyes on the ultimate goal. Follow the roadmap you have set, enthusiastically devote time and effort, and visualize success. Enlist the aid and support of family and friends. Telling them about your plans can help keep you on track. Most importantly, never give up.

Copyright © 2006 Sally A. Connolly
All Rights Reserved

Sally A. Connolly, a retired school counselor and teacher, is editor of A BOY FROM LAWRENCE: The Collected Writings of Eugene F. Connolly (2006). Midwest Book Review says this verbal scrapbook of a teacher's spiritual journey is "filled with such treasures. It is recommended for those in need of comfort, illumination, redirection, grace, or prayer." For more information, go to A Boy From Lawrence.


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