“Forty-Eleven Simple Steps to Success” or “Why We Rarely Get Better At Anything”.

Here is my experience: I have read countless numbers of articles and books which promote themselves simply enough. X number of steps to __________________ (fill this blank with whatever ails or inspires you). I have attended seminars which outline in their one-page pitch that participants will learn to _______________ through A, B & C. Looking back, I am not sure any of these promoted paths enabled me to reach my intended destination. Now, I realize that I don’t necessarily have the right to shoot the messenger and that the other common denominator in all those experiences has been “yours truly”. However, I wonder if some of the reason why the simple steps to success rarely lead us there has something to do with how we really grow, learn and develop.

First of all, instead of helping my clients get “to” success, I help them move “toward” it. This is because I don’t think success is a place, to which we can arrive, like a specific bus stop. It is an orientation, perspective or an approach, and it is always evolving. We don’t get there and then unpack our bags and settle in. We look for a newer version of “success” and find ways to move toward that expression. There is no plateau for those looking to continually develop and contribute well. The reality is we never get to success, but rather it gets “into” us.

Secondly, I can’t take forty-eleven, or even eleven steps to get to something. I am excited when I, or one of my clients, begins to incorporate 1 significant step toward success. When we are pummeled with new actions to take, we are first paralyzed and then we retreat into the old actions which don’t require much inertia to incorporate. Anything that isn’t both simple and clear will have a difficult time being embraced.

Last of all, reading/hearing something in an article or seminar doesn’t mean we know it and knowing it doesn’t mean we can live it. We know explicitly that eating right and exercising will have deep and meaningful benefits on our health, but the average human life is by-and-large devoid of both of those practices. Change-making is a multi-layered endeavor, incorporating mental data, emotional incentives and reflected practice. If we are merely working to set up our new Blu-Ray player (the example used to be a VCR manual) then “X Simple Steps to Success”, might be helpful. But if we are committed to becoming a more skilled delegator, better collaborator or simply design our time better, we need to go further than being told “how” to do this. Their titles are enticing and the seminar brochures feature some very happy and satisfied-looking stock images, but I am not sure even the best of them can do what they propose. We simply don’t grow that way. I have started skipping anything which promises simple steps to a newer model of me and I have bought into change which is geared around “One Significant Step Toward a More Success-Full Me”. And I look forward to walking alongside others who choose this as their way to grow.

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