However, it’s really important to get to the invisible success drivers so that you discover what it is that you’re truly looking for.
The powerful exercise below takes less than a minute, and will help you identify any invisible success drivers:
- Ask yourself, “What do I most want right now?”
- Ask yourself, “What will that get me?”
- Repeat question two about five times, until you are sure you’ve reached the end of the line. (in other words your last answer doesn’t need to get you anything else – you want that just for itself)
If you do this exercise approximately ten times over the course of the next few days, you should begin to notice a pattern. What you think you want right now, and what you really want at a deeper level might be different. And the invisible connections between the two of them might actually be getting in the way of your ability to achieve either of them.
Most people answer question #1, “What do I most want right now?” – with something very clear and tangible. See if any of these traditional responses sound familiar to you:
“I want to have a billion dollars in my savings account”….
“I want Mr. Right to treat me right!”….
“I want everything on my to do list done so I can relax”….
To question #2, I get things like relief, respect, a break, or maybe something deeper like love or connection. But people tend not to go much further than that, and if they don’t, they probably don’t know what is really driving them.
Why is it important to know what is really driving you? Because sometimes what drives your desire for success can also prevent you from achieving success.
For example, Jack believed that he wanted to be wealthy. When he did the exercise above his answer to #2 was to get the family out of debt, put the kids through great colleges, and make his wife truly happy. He found that he constantly felt torn between staying late at work to make money and attending an important family function. Since he felt guilty and torn, he wasn’t fully “present” in either situation, and he was getting progressively less happy. His family found him moody and distant, and at work his team members seemed to be constantly struggling with delays and frustrations.
By doing the exercise and seeing his family show up over and over at the end of the chain, Jack realized that, for him, success really meant having a happy family. This lead him to sitting down and having a conversation with his wife, who was able to share with him her happiest moments together. A lot of those moments had nothing to do with being provided for. He learned that while having money was part of the equation it wasn’t the only part, or even the most important part.
These insights allowed Jack to make some subtle shifts in his lifestyle that made a huge difference:
- He had absolute clarity that his number one priority was a happy family, so he built his work schedule around this truth, and whenever a conflict arose, he considered his priorities in that order. It didn’t mean he always attended family functions at the expense of work meetings – it just meant that he always asked himself about the family issues first. This led to clear thinking and less guilt about his decisions.
- When Jack thought about making money, he also thought about the purpose of that money, which actually made it more fun for him to make money, and increased his joy and engagement at work.
- Jack focused on any number of things that were important to his family’s happiness. He spent more time playing games with the kids, scheduled a weekly date night with his wife, and made sure to spend more time listening, paying attention, and having high quality conversations when he was at family functions.
- As Jack’s family started “feeling” happier, Jack felt less angst around the situation. He felt less guilty about his role as a husband and parent, and his calmer, more confident presence showed up at work. He listened better, allowed his natural sense of humor out, and seemed to suddenly have a more excited and successful team on his hands.
- Jack started making more money, almost without thinking about it, and he is well on his way to wealth today.
Jack’s happiness and sense of success came before he started making money, and this paradoxical pattern shows up over and over again.
I have clients who want to have more time so that they can finally relax. But no matter how much they try to manage their time, they don’t relax. Even when they block off time to do nothing, they find themselves frustrated that nothing is getting done. With time, we often can’t settle down because our busy-ness is protecting us from something, and we have to discover what it is before we can relax. Getting time isn’t the issue – getting the ability to relax and calm down is what is truly important.
Whatever it is that we push for – it’s usually something we’ve decided will get us something else. If you can find the “something else” and work on it directly, you can succeed much more quickly.
If you try the “what do I really want” exercise, and come up with an interesting pattern, feel free to contact me – I’d be happy to discuss your insights with you either on the phone or via e-mail.