The Short Straw of Failure
One Simple Thing
For years I’ve been hunting down reasons why people are successful, or why they aren’t. In the last few weeks an over-arching single reason seems to be forming for me.
The Long List of Success Attributes
If you break it down to the smaller reasons, there are so many why people succeed – clarity of vision, solid values/beliefs/principles, speed of execution, commitment (never giving up), discipline, getting back up/bouncing back, taking good risks vs bad risks (& knowing the difference), being organized, optimistic, being flexible, embracing challenge, seeing the big picture, rising above offense, seeing yourself as successful, being willing to be wrong often…
…and so many more.
The One Big Success Attribute
But as I look at the long list of things that make people successful or keep them stuck, they almost all seem to roll up under one simple, over-arching reason. I’ve been testing it against all the other reasons for weeks, and can’t find one that doesn’t fit under the one big one.
The reason we get where we want to go or don’t is simply this:
Short-term vs. long-term decision-making.
Not very glamorous, but absolutely transformative if you embrace it.
People who make their decisions based on what will help in the short-term are almost never successful. People who make decisions based on what will be best in the long run are almost always successful. Is it that simple? Let’s test it and see.
Testing It Out
Take a look at the list of success attributes above (or any of the dozens I haven’t mentioned) and ask yourself which ones are based on short-term gain and which ones are based on the long-term gain. Success attributes are all about the long-term.
In stark contrast, the following reasons for failure all help us address short-term symptoms, but keep us right where we are:
– survival: I have payroll to make
– feelings: I don’t feel like doing that right now
– fear: I’m afraid they won’t like me, or I might fail
– lack of discipline: shiny object syndrome – oooh! – let’s do that, TOO!
– being tired: the #1 reason businesses fail
– lack of learning: we’re too busy DOING to be learning
– inflexibility: change is messy, we’ll just row over the falls
– lack of vision: I’m too busy making chairs for that woo-woo crap
…and on and on. We do them all for one very simple reason. We are short-sighted and not thinking about how we will ever get to where we want to be.
Ask yourself two long-term questions:
1) What would I be doing right now if I weren’t (in survival, afraid, undisciplined, tired, etc – put your own short-term problem here)?
2) Am I making decisions based on where I am, or where I want to be?
Decisions based on what helps me now, create long-term failure. Long-term success is based on a life pattern of making many small, daily decisions, one after another, that stack up to success down the road.
Our VALUES determine our thoughts
Our thoughts determine our actions
Our actions determine our habits
Our habits determine our character
Our character determines our DESTINY.
Do you value being on the treadmill the rest of your life, making decisions that address short-term symptoms but never solve the long-term problems? Or do you value getting off the treadmill and living a life of success and significance?
You Are Not a Victim of the Short Straw
In business and in life, the short straw is not a guessing game. Nobody’s fist is hiding it. The long straw and the short straw are both laying on the table right in front of us. If we want to be successful we will see clearly that short-term decision-making is just willingly picking the short straw instead of the long one.
Make one decision today that will make you more successful later. It likely won’t make you any money or save you any time TODAY (short-term). But it just might change your life down the road.
Choose the long straw.