Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Defining Success

Do you want to succeed in life?  I guess the answer is a resounding "yes!"  Otherwise, why would you be reading this blog?  For that matter, who would not want to succeed in life anyway?  If you do want to succeed, then read on!

The first step you must take may seem obvious, yet it is one that most people do not take.  You must decide exactly what success means to you.

Think about this carefully.  There is no one "right" answer.  The answer for you will be different from the answer for me, so I cannot give you that answer.  Nor can anyone else, no matter how good a personal development trainer or coach they may be.  Your own answer is unique to you.

The answer will also change as you move through life.  What you thought constituted "success" when you were at high school will not be the same as your definition of success once you started work.  And that definition of success will not be the same a few years later.

It is very good, of course, that your unique definition of success is changing.  Otherwise you could achieve that success and then be bored and unmotivated for the rest of your life!

The very first answers you give, before you have time to rationalize and perhaps water them down, will be very significant and will probably be a key to what will really motivate you to succeed.  So capture those thoughts, writing down everything that comes to you without discounting anything and without criticizing yourself.  Even if you feel some of your answers are immoral and should not be part of your life, still write them down.

Once you have a nice long list, start questioning yourself about each answer.  Ask yourself why this is important to you.  Don't then just accept this answer.  Ask yourself again why the things you have said are important really are so important to you.  With each answer you give yourself, dig deeper and find another answer underneath it, and then just keep digging.

Eventually, for each of your original definitions of success you will find you have something that is probably quite different.  You have reached what I call the "bottom drawer", something in your personality that you may never have seen before.

With some of your initial answers you will find they have become weaker and weaker as you dig down.  The final stage you reach will seem unexciting and will not motivate you in any way.  These are illusory definitions of success.  You should discard these, as they will just be a distraction from the steps you need to follow in order to be truly successful.

Others will really resonate.  They will empower and excite you.  These are your true definitions of success.  Write them down in a separate journal, giving a brief paragraph for each one outlining why it is so important to you.

Now that you have your true definition of success you can start to produce a plan in order to achieve that success.  Use the techniques you will find throughout my blog.  If you are really serious, if what you want to achieve really excites you, choose a coach from the many I recommend from time to time in my newsletters (if you don't receive those newsletters, then request them now at

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Inspirational Stories of Success

Last month I wrote an article about the excuses most of us use to avoid being successful.  Yes, read that again - most of us actually try to avoid being successful and then have to give ourselves excuses why we didn't achieve success.  We have to find those excuses as really it is very easy to be successful, so when we stop ourselves from realizing our dreams we need some good excuses that will convince both ourselves and those around us.  That isn't quite how I put it then, but that was the essence of my article.  If you missed it, check it out at

In my article I referred to a number of people who have achieved success against all the odds.  A lot of you contacted me and said how much those snippets of others' success stories inspired you, so today I thought I would expand a little on some of them.  So here are a few inspirational stories of success.  If you like reading this kind of story let me know and I will occasionally give you a few more such motivational stories.

Ingvar Kamprad

When you read this name you may have said "who?".  But try another name - IKEA.  Heard of that store?  Well it was founded by Ingvar Kamprad.

Ingvar was born and raised on a small farm, Elmtaryd, in Småland, Sweden.  Like most farmers, his parents were not particularly wealthy.  In fact, they were really quite poor, as were most other farmers around the rural village of Agunnaryd.  But that did not stop Ingvar!

At the age of six, Ingvar discovered he could make a profit by buying matches in bulk and then cycling round the village selling them to his neighbours.  This was just the start of his business career, a very early start.  He graduated to buying and selling fish, seeds, pens, Christmas decorations - in fact anything he found people around him wanted.  All while still a young child.

When he was 17, Ingvar founded IKEA (Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd).  He began it as a mail order business, supplying mainly furniture made at low cost by local craftsmen.

What Ingvar learned very early on is that the way to become wealthy is to help other people achieve their own dreams.  He helped local manufacturers find a good outlet for their work and he helped people all over the world furnish their houses and apartments with good but inexpensive furniture.  This simple concept led to IKEA becoming a multi billion dollar business known all over the world.

Glenn Cunningham

Perhaps another name that is not familiar?  But certainly a great success.

Glenn suffered severe leg burns at the age of 8.  His family were told by his doctors that he would never walk again.  But Glenn simply did not accept this.

Every day he got out of his bed, the bed to which his doctors had condemned him for life, and began forcing his legs to work again, little by little.  This caused Glenn great pain, but he refused to give up.  He refused to accept the invalid life everyone told him was all that was left for him.

Gradually he not only began to walk again, but managed to jog.  Then to run.

Not content with simply achieving the miracle of walking and running, Glenn announced he intended to run faster than anybody else in the world had ever run.

In 1934 he fulfilled his dream, running a mile in 4 minutes and 6 seconds, a world record.

Anthony Burgess

Have you heard of Anthony Burgess (born "John Burgess Wilson")?  He is perhaps best known for writing the novel "A Clockwork Orange", which was turned into a hugely successful film by Stanley Kubrick in 1971.

When Anthony was 40 he was diagnosed with cancer, a brain tumour, and was given less than a year to live.  He was penniless at the time, and didn't want to leave his wife, Lynne, with nothing when he died, so he decided to write and publish some novels to give her a legacy.  Notice the plural here.  He wrote not one but FIVE novels and was halfway through the sixth by the end of the year he had been given.

Fortunately for us, the prognosis was wrong.  Anthony Burgess did not die of cancer at the end of that year.  He went on to live for nearly 40 more years, writing more than 70 books, as well as translating into English the classic works Cyrano de Bergerac, Oedipus the King, and the opera Carmen, and composing more than 250 musical works.

How about you?

These three stories of success show you do not need to be wealthy, or lucky in order to achieve your dream.  All three achieved their dreams against all the odds.  What is your dream, and why not go out there now and turn it into reality?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

We Shall Remember

We shall remember.  But what will we remember, and why?

At the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918, the first world war ended.  This war was known as the "Great War" and was supposed to be the "war to end all wars".  Ever since 1919 all Commonwealth countries, as well as many other countries, especially in Europe, have celebrated the end of this terrible war at 11:00 am on the 11th of November.  Wreaths of poppies are laid at war memorials, and many people observe two minutes silence.

It is right to remember those who died in the service of their country.  But I believe in remembering them we should also remember that it should never have been necessary for them to offer up their lives in this way.  Here I am not just talking about British and Commonwealth soldiers, and I am not just talking about those who died in the first world war.  I mean everyone who has ever died in any war.  Soldier and civilians.  There was no need for any of them to have died.  That is what we should remember.

Whether or not you are in a country that celebrates the end of the first world war (an end which almost guaranteed the start of the second world war rather than being a war to end all wars) I ask you to join with me now, as you read this, in two minutes silent contemplation.  A silent meditation for peace and goodwill to all men, women and children.  To me, this is the meaning of remembrance day.

George Santanyana told us that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".  The first world war was a terrible war that caused terrible suffering to so many people, soldiers and civilians alike.  Because we have not remembered how unneccessary and terrible that war was we have repeated it again and again.  Today soldiers and civilians are dying in so many countries as a result.  Even one such death is one death too many.  Join me in two minutes silence to remember.  To remember how terrible war is, any war, and to remember that there is never any justification to go to war.

  The first world war came and its cost was laid on the people. 
  The second world war — the third — what will be the cost. 
  And will it repay the people for what they pay?... 
  The little girl saw her first troop parade and asked,  
  ‘What are those?’ 
  ‘What are soldiers?’ 
  ‘They are for war. They fight and each tries to kill as many of the other side as he can.’ 
  The girl held still and studied.  
  ‘Do you know ... I know something?’ 
  ‘Yes, what is it you know?’ 
  ‘Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.’

        Carl Sandburg, "The People, Yes"

Governments can only fight wars if the people agree to fight them.  Meditate now on peace throughout the world and your meditation can make the people who are still fighting those needless wars reflect on what they are doing.  Make a difference in the world, bring it closer to real peace with your two minute meditation right now.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Motivational Strategies

How can you motivate yourself to achieve your goals?  What motivational strategies can you use?

Before answering this question perhaps it would be a good idea to remind ourselves why motivation is so important in the first place.  Without motivation it is not really possible to do anything purposeful at all.  Without motivation we would simply give up at the first obstacle, no matter how small that obstacle may be.  If there is no real reason to continue, then why bother?  This argument also reminds us of the need to have really powerful motivation.  If it is not very powerful, then again we will probably give up the moment the first difficulty arises.

The first step in your motivational strategy must therefore be to recognize the need for motivation.

The next step is to look very carefully at each goal.  Why exactly do you want to achieve this goal?  How different will your life be once you have achieved it?  How will achieving it make you feel?  If you do this properly, one of two things will happen.  Either you will become highly motivated to achieve the goal, or you will realize the goal is not as important to you as you first thought.  Either result is good.  Eliminate goals which will never highly motivate you and you will be able to focus far better on the more important goals and will be more highly motivated to achieve them.

Once you have eliminated the "bogus" goals, look at each goal and start listing the steps you need to take to move closer to that goal.  Remember the old adage "Rome was not built in a day".  If your goal is worthwhile it will probably look very challenging if all you can see is the big jump from where you are now to where you eventually want to be.  Dreaming about that final achievement, basking in the warm feelings those dreams give you, is extremely important and is something you must keep doing, but if that is all you do that will gradually diminish your motivation rather than increase it.  Think about the steps you need to take and write them down.  Then focus particularly on the very first step.  If you have done this properly you will find that first step is not so difficult to take.  Remind yourself that the journey to your end goal is comprised simply of small, achievable steps just like this first step.  Also remind yourself of the way you will feel when you reach the end goal and then link that feeling to achieving the first step.  Now you should find you have a very powerful motivation to take that first step.  Actually taking it will then be very easy.

Once you have achieved that first step towards each of your goals, maintain an attitude of "happy but not satisfied".  You should be very happy that you are now one step closer to your goal.  Luxuriate in this feeling.  Reward yourself for your achievement.  But at the same time you should feel that you are not yet satisfied, as there are still other steps to take.  Do not count those steps or start worrying about how far away the end goal is still, as this will be very demotivational.  But recognize that it is great you have come this far on your journey and now you can focus on the next step.

Treat each step in exactly the same way.  This next step is such a small step, so you can easily take it.  But it is also one more step closer to your ultimate goal.

Follow this motivational strategy and you will find you can achieve all the goals you have set yourself.  Don't wait for the right opportunity, deluding yourself that the time is not right yet.  Take that first step and bring yourself closer to the dreams you want to realize.