By Alex Araneta
Much has been said and written about achieving success and while I have no doubt many of these are helpful, from my own personal experience I believe there are four key things we must do to gain success and this has served me well in the various aspects of my life, be it in sports, leading my family, running my company, and sustaining my own personal effectiveness.
The first area we need to address is what I call our thought life. Try and make an audit of what consumes your thoughts in any given day and you will realize that these things are actually your “masters”. The Bible says it well – “Where your treasure is, there your heart is also” and we know that what is in our heart fills up our minds as well.
Now that you understand this, what then do you discover? Are these thoughts good thoughts that motivate you to perform well in your various responsibilities and are these thoughts encouraging you to believe in yourself?
Or maybe it’s the other way around. You’ve entertained criticisms, alibis, impatience, self-righteousness and other negatives directed at yourself and others which is why you feel depressed and discouraged if not angry and vindictive. These thoughts are actually just a by-product of something deeper which is our value system. They were formed from our past experiences such as from those who have influenced us or perhaps from circumstances that have made deep impressions in our spirit.
Whatever they are and wherever they came from, we need to acknowledge them and if we desire to change and move forward we may have to overhaul our values because we need to submit to this universal truth: Our values shape our thoughts and our thoughts have direct effect on our actions and behavior which yields for us the corresponding results. To state it simply – to change our actions, we need to change our thoughts and to look at our core means to change our values.
But that’s not all that you should do. I’ve been into serious running for four years now having completed five marathons. I got into this by inspiration after someone shared to me that only .01% of the world’s population has finished a marathon. This fact motivated me to include running in my bucket list even as I back then had ran maybe as far as 10km. Needless to say pretty soon the inspiration to do a 42.19km became a source of exasperation as I pondered on whether I could actually be able to accomplish such a monumental feat.
This is where I needed to change the thoughts running (pun intended) through my mind by now filling my mind with narratives of my reaching the finish line of my first marathon with all smiles and with arms raised – a pose perfect for my FB profile! Well, it didn’t take much time before I realized that no amount of positive thinking or self-actualization will help me finish the race. I couldn’t just rely on mindset alone as I certainly needed to back up my thoughts with the right kind of behavior.
I therefore immediately hired a running coach so that I can be held accountable to and who can develop for me a 16-week training program that I would need to follow religiously. This was one aspect of doing a 42km marathon which I can relate to personally and professionally – success has no shortcuts! You can’t wing it, there’s no skill or talent required and while physical giftedness can help, the key is having the proper behavior which is discipline in following the training program.
And so the next 16 weeks provided for me a radically changed lifestyle. No late nights, no eating binges except to prepare for a long run and worst of all, the rigors of doing speed intervals as well as tempo and mileage runs. In doing this, I began to understand what hard labor and torture was all about but I also could feel myself getting stronger as I gulped kilometer after kilometer. This was such a rewarding feeling as I saw myself conquering 21km then 25km then 28km then 32km to the point that slowly but surely the long runs became routine for me and I now began to appreciate the value of the discipline I put in. But in spite of all this, it still was not enough apparently.
While having the right thought and applying discipline in my behavior brought me great success, I discovered that there is a third aspect for success as all these can be rendered useless unless I make sure that I am in the right environment. Why so? In the course of my training, I obviously still had a social life which meant I would get invites to dinners and socials from dear and wellmeaning friends of mine.
On one particular weekend I got invited to a birthday party which I attended and enjoyed tremendously because there was lots of food, drink, and laughs that stayed on until the late hours. Yes I indulged myself in all these in spite of knowing that just a few hours later I would need to do my program which was run a 32km. And yes again, I was not able to wake up for my run and even if I did, I was in no condition to run because I had too much to eat and drink. This led me to my third discovery towards personal success – you need to be in the right environment because even if you apply right thinking and discipline in your behavior, all these can go to waste if you continue to be in an environment detrimental to your growth.
Right thinking, right behavior, and right environment. I’ve tried this on myself, with my family, and in my company, and to all who have followed, it has yielded for them tremendous breakthroughs and amazing success. There is so much greatness awaiting us if we only learn to control the internal and external influences we are faced with but how about situations we have no control of? I can think right, behave right, and be in the proper environment but what will happen to me when I go out and do the 42km and the weather turns out to be terribly warm or for some unknown reason I begin to feel pain in various parts of my body? There is only so much we can be in control of and for those areas we can’t I believe we need now to rely on the only one who is in control of all things and that is our Maker.
This is the reason why I’m a firm believer in the saying “Do everything as if everything depended on you and pray as if everything depended on God.” The truth of the matter is that there’s no guarantee for success for the control freaks likewise for those applying hyper-faith. To put it in its proper perspective, for the control freaks there’s Murphy’s Law and for the hyper-faith people, there’s God’s will. The secret then is now out in the bag – all it takes is a healthy dose of both and that’s my prescription for your fantastic success!