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Looking For Shortcuts To Success? You Need To Read This.

Looking For Shortcuts To Success? You Need To Read This.

Have you ever known someone who seemed to have everything come to them easily?

Maybe they were born into wealth with a super-star face. Athletic. Charming. With just the raise of an eyebrow and a flash of perfect teeth, it all falls in their lap.

Meanwhile, you battle like a Lord of the Rings montage for every scrap of progress in your life.

Nothing is handed to you. Oh, no. In fact, it sometimes feels like the universe takes a thrill in creating obstacles so you have to go the long way around.

You would give anything for a break. Winning lottery ticket? Fortune from the death of a long-lost relative? Genie lamp?

Yes, please!

Shortcuts do exist, and some people hit the jackpot.

So why do I suggest they don’t? I’ll give you seven reasons why shortcuts to success do not exist. Then you decide for yourself.

1. The Ski Lift Reason

There is a difference between feeling successful and reaching a benchmark that appears to mark success.

I have climbed mountains, and I have ridden ski lifts. There is a distinctly different feeling when I reach the peak.

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The thrill of reaching the peak of a mountain on your own two feet, sweat streaming, heart racing, lungs burning—it’s surreal. Looking down on all around you, you know you earned that view. You battled for it. You could have stopped and turned around at any point, but you hung in there. The journey changed something inside of you. You know now that you are capable of so much more. “If I can do that, what else can I do?”

The only thing I know I can do after ridding a ski lift is that I can sit in a chair. Sure, it’s fun. I still get to see the lovely scenery. But beside the dismount, I feel no accomplishment. I didn’t overcome anything. Reaching the peak is not a success when I arrive on a ski lift.

Same mountain peak. Completely different feeling.

Success is a feeling, not an event. You might be able to take shortcuts to the benchmark, but the shortcut diminishes the feeling.

2. The Butterfly Reason

Shortcuts reduce your strength to create more success.

There was a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. A child watching the struggle decided to help the butterfly. He cut open the cocoon so the butterfly was free. He then watched as the butterfly flapped about.

The child’s grandmother came along and asked what happened.  When the child proudly told her how he helped, the grandmother nodded and then sighed.  She pulled the boy into her lap and said, “Butterflies need to struggle. When they squeeze out of their cocoons, it pushes fluid into their wings for the first time. This makes their wings strong. Your butterfly didn’t struggle so it will never be able to fly.”

When we are in the middle of our struggles, we wish someone would come along and cut us out of our cocoons. The struggling, though, does the same thing for us as it does to the butterfly. It makes us stronger.

Success that comes from struggle generates strength that serves you throughout your life.

3. Dumbo’s Reason

When “success” happens by fluke or shortcut, you never learn how to re-create it.

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In Dumbo, Timothy tells Dumbo that he can fly because he has a magic feather. When Dumbo loses the feather, he is paralyzed.  He doesn’t how to fly without the shortcut.

Our brains are constantly looking for patterns. When we know we are working hard and making progress, we will continue to repeat these patterns.

When shortcuts are responsible for our seeming success, we have no idea how to repeat those patterns again. It actually degrades our confidence and our strength. Then, when larger challenges come along, we panic. If all you have is a magic feather, you have nothing substantial to rely on when you really need it.

Success that comes from hard work, though, arms you with knowledge and strategies to take on bigger challenges and fly even higher.

4. The Impostor Reason

When you arrive at the peak on a ski lift to find a group of people who hiked to the top, you have a hard time connecting with them.  They’re swapping stories and patting each other on the back.  “Yeah, and what about that huge log over the trail with the bees nest right next to it! That was crazy! How did you get around it?”

And you’ve got nothing to share. What are you going to say?

People who arrive at success by their own hard work and ingenuity have earned their sense of pride.

Eventually, if you arrive at success by shortcuts, it will be harder and harder to hang. You won’t have the stories, strategies and strength that will make you an insider.

You will feel like an impostor.

You won’t stay on the top of the mountain for long.

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5. Odysseus’s Reason

The road to real success is paved by failure.

Remember good ol’ Odysseus from high school English. Oh, The Odyssey, that long, long Greek poem. It is epic, literally.

This dude is trying sail home after a fighting in The Trojan War for 10 years. The journey back home leads him on a roller coaster ride from failure to success and back again. It takes another 10 years, but he finally reaches home again.

So, what’s Homer’s point?

Success is not one moment or one achievement. It is a series of struggles, fought again and again, that change who we are. The lessons learned on the journey are far more valuable than arriving at the desired destination. Take a shortcut to the destination and you miss everything you could have learned.

6. The Habitual Reason

Successful people develop habits based on what they learned from past failures. They develop their own systems that consistently work for them.

These habits become so normal that they don’t even think about it.

Like Odysseus, the long struggles are an incubation process that builds a success machine.

The mantras & sayings, vocal qualities, posture, ways of waking, creating, questioning, organizing, networking: these are learned from repetition.

Shortcuts miss all the practice that make your success habits second-nature.

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7. Michael J. Fox’s Reason

Ever see The Secret of My Success? It’s a classic 80s movie starring Michael J. as a young business man who finds a shortcut to success. But what’s his secret? Sneaking, lying, covering tracks, and general slapstick shenanigans. Spoiler alert: in the end, it all falls apart. Our boy learns that all the trappings of success mean nothing without honesty and love. Awww, shucks.

One reason Michael J. Fox’s real life story has touched so many people is what he teaches about success.

This guy had it all. Every outward signifier of success flowing as far as the eye could see. Then at age 30, he developed the symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of early onset Parkinson’s disease. A symbol of youth has the disease of the “old.”

How does he respond?

He realizes that he needs to become a new symbol.  No longer is he the “shortcut taker.” He becomes the role model of the long-haul.

There are no shortcuts to success in a marathon. Every step is a struggle. Every success is earned and every failure is a lesson for doing better next time.

Real success in life comes from knowing who you are, having confidence that you can face our fears, and stepping up to the plate courageously with love and integrity.

There are no shortcuts in these moments of truth.

So what do you think? Will you decide to take shortcuts? In the end, it is not so much whether shortcuts exist or not. It’s what you want to feel when you reach the peaks and when you put your head on the pillow each night.

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Published on August 25, 2019

How to Find Your North Star

How to Find Your North Star

Most of us are familiar with the concept of a North Star–it’s the star  (currently Polaris) that helps travelers on their journeys… acting as a guide to keep them on track. And, I firmly believe that we all have our own individual North Stars as well, which act in a similar fashion.

When I talk about a North Star, I’m referring to a life purpose. If you don’t have one, you’ll be lost in life. But, if you do have one, you’ll have a guiding light that keeps you firmly on track for fulfillment and success.

A life purpose is exactly as it sounds: a purpose that drives your life. For example, think of a famous athlete or musician such as Michael Jordan or Ed Sheeran. People like this live to express their physical, mental and artistic abilities. They’re passionate, energetic — and they know what they want to achieve in life. In other words, they’re following their North Star.

So how about you? Have you discovered your life purpose? Or are you simply drifting aimlessly on an ocean of wishful thinking?

Why We Should Seek out and Embrace a North Star

American author Denis Waitley said:  “Winners are people with definite purpose in life.”

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In my experience, this is absolutely correct. Winners know what they want, and they have a plan on how to get it.

If you’re struggling to achieve the level of success and happiness that you’d like, then you may need to spend some time to find and embrace your North Star (see the next section for help with this).

What benefits will following your North Star give you? Well, first, you’ll develop an almost super-human ability to overcome and defeat obstacles that come your way. This is because, you’ll be fixated on your end goal and won’t allow small things to stop you from getting there.

Let me give you an example of this:

You’ve decided you want to learn electric guitar. You purchase the relevant equipment (guitar, amp, leads, picks, etc.), and you subscribe to an online guitar tutorial site. For the first few weeks, things go well, and you make solid progress. However, unexpectedly, you break the top string on your guitar while playing.

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If you were just casually dabbling with learning how to play guitar, then the hassle of purchasing a new string — and learning how to fit it on your guitar — could be enough to end your fledgling hobby. But, if you were set on being a proficient guitarist, perhaps even a professional musician, then you certainly wouldn’t allow this obstacle to stop you in your tracks. On the contrary, you’d most likely head off straight to your nearest music shop to pick up a few packs of replacement strings, watch a YouTube video on how to fit it, and then carry right on with your playing! And, the next time you break a string, you won’t miss a beat.

Can you see now how a North Star (or big goal) can give you incredible energy, drive and persistence?

It’s the difference between a care-free attitude and a must-do attitude. The former will cause you to drift through life; the latter will keep you firmly on track to reach your desired destination.

A North Star is really just a greater overall goal that will allow you to align smaller, achievable goals to it. For instance, if you want to become a school teacher, you’ll need to pass your grades to go to college, then pass your college exams, then gain the appropriate work experience — and then attempt to secure a job. Without completing each of these steps, you’ll never make it to the front of a classroom.

In other words, big goals only become manageable when we break them down into smaller, bite-sized chunks. If you attempted to join a professional basketball team, for example, but you’d never played before, you’d be laughed off the court. But, if you trained hard, found a great coach, and had a burning desire to make it — the right doors would probably open for you.

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Let me ask you a question: Do you currently feel a little lost or unsure about your future?

If you do, don’t worry. Once you start following your North Star, all the other stars will begin to align for you! You’ll be able to keep your mind on the bigger picture, and you’ll understand the best actions to take in life to realize your dream. And, when you do this, your confidence will inevitably grow, you’ll give your health a boost.[1] In a research-backed article by Psychological Science, it reveals that following a life purpose can even help you live longer.[2] You’ll also feel energized by your progress in pursuing goals that genuinely mean something to you.

5 Things That Can Help You Find Your North Star

So are you ready to discover your purpose?

If yes, then read on to find out five ways that will help you do this: 

1. Break free from mental limitations— You know what I mean, your inner voice that keeps telling you that you’re not good enough to do or achieve the things you dream of.

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2. Ask yourself these questions: What do you love to do? What activities set your soul on fire? If money was no object, how would you spend your time?

3. Think back to when you were a child — What things brought you immense satisfaction at that time? And, were there things you loved to do, but adults told you to forget about them? …perhaps a dream about becoming an actor, dancer or astronaut?

4. Spend time in contemplation — Dwell on the answers to the above questions for as long as you need. And, then wait for answers to come into your mind. This may take minutes, hours, days or even weeks.

5. Listen to that feeling deep in your bones — You’ll instinctively know when your life purpose has been revealed to you. It will feel right to you, and it’ll also excite you to begin taking action.

Finding your North Star is a crucial first step on your journey to success, but navigating your way to it is a whole different challenge. To help you with this, check out my recent article: Need a Breakthrough from the Limitations Holding you Back?

Featured photo credit: Heidi Sandstrom via unsplash.com

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