“But I really am funny,” you plead vehemently! Yes, we know you are -- simply by the number of friends and strangers laughing at your weekly stand-up routine. You may be funny and your dreams may end up looking exactly the way you envisioned them five years ago. I’m not saying it won’t happen. But if that’s still your life goal, get ready to work for it!
Start by setting real goals. “People who aren’t successful typically aren’t goal-oriented,” Gregg Steinberg reveals in his book Full Throttle: 122 Strategies to Supercharge Your Performance at Work. Steinberg suggests setting an appropriate goal, creating clear strategies to reach it, and assessing your progress weekly or bimonthly. But don’t make comparative goals that pit you against someone else. “Take what you have and try to improve it each month.”
You can also feel more “in” your life by envisioning other options, says Spevak [co-author of Empowering Underachievers: New Strategies to Guide Kids (8-18) to Personal Excellence]. “OK, so you want to be a CEO and in your company there’s only one CEO. What’s Plan B? Plan C? Plan D?” Having alternate visions of personal success lets you feel like the master of your life.
In other words, broaden your conception of what counts as “making it.” Take all the things you were passionate about from one goal and apply them somewhere else. Be limber. And remember, a huge amount of luck goes into any success. As Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) said in the 1954 movie On the Waterfront, circumstances can keep you down. “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody.”
If you aim to be a participant, rather than a star, you go a long way toward being a contender, whatever you do. “If you’re doing something positive in the world, if you’re productive, if you’re a player, then you’re a success. That’s my view. That’s the definition of a good life,” says Markus. “What American society needs is people showing up every day and working their butts off as best they can. A lot of things we call talent are just time on task.”
Markus’ words are true. As a talented individual, our pride commonly tells us we should be revered for our skill set. What the industry and people around us make known, however, is that it is not the most talented individual who reaches the highest status. Being available and on task when things align in our favor – admittedly, we can call it luck – is sometimes the dictating variable.
Or, as Thomas Edison said: “Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.”
Real goals . . . diverse possibilities . . . flexibility of view . . . are all variables to being a success. So that leaves us with one question: Are you a contender?