“So, tell me,” a potential client asked me, “what makes you the best?” I laughed.
I am not in the habit of laughing at my clients, and I almost never laugh at potential clients. It’s bad form. Rude. But sometimes I can’t help it. You see, people are under the impression that we coaches and consultants are responsible for our client’s success. And that is only peripherally true.
I am not diminishing a coaches or consultant’s role, or our work ethic or our ability. I, like many others who are true professionals, work hard to be prepared, to learn, to develop processes that work for people and help them get from where they are to where they want to be. We take our client’s success very seriously.
But most of know something. The biggest secret is not in the coaches toolbox, but in our clients. There are two things that will decide whether a client will succeed or not and they are both out of a coach/consultant’s power.
Anyone who wants success has two steps that will determine whether or not they get to where they want to go.
They have to start. And they have to finish.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of steps in between. There’s work to be done, processes to work through. Stuff to do. But almost everyone who fails lack one of two things.
Many never start. They read. They analyze. They think about it. They tinker on the fringes. But they never make the commitment to succeed. They never invest in themselves or their future. They tell themselves they can’t. They don’t have the time. They don’t have the money. There is not clear path. It’s too much work. People might talk. People might not like the changes.
The list goes on and on, but in the end, I’ve learned, the real reason they don’t invest is that either they are afraid of failure, or they are afraid of success.
Fear of failure makes sense to me. Probably to you too. None of us like to fail. We hate rejection. We hate not getting there, where ever “there” is. Failure embarrasses us. We feel like it diminishes us.
My father lost a business when I was in college. It was not his fault. He was doing the ight things, but the man he bought the business from had been juggling the books for years, and once he was gone, the whole thing fell apart. The juggling was so craft anyd effective, it caused Virginia to re-write some of its fraud laws.
But my dad never got over it.
He went on to be a real success in another field. He rebuilt his financial life, put kids through college, took trips abroad, and retired very well. In my mind and in the minds of most everyone else, he was a huge success, even MORE so because he had come back from failure.
But he never got over it. It colored his life for the rest of life. Yes, we hate failure and it scares us, even when it is part of what gets us from point A to point B. And so we let that fear of failure keep us from making a real, meaningful investment in change and growth. Our fear overcomes our desire to reach our goals, whatever they are.
But the fear of success? That’s another thing altogether. One of my favorite quotes is from Marianne Williamson – “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Success means change. Change is frightening. Will we measure up? Will our change hurt others, scare others off, make other drift away from us? Can we handle it? What will change take from us?
Oh how the questions plague us! And if we never start. If we never make the investment, be it time, money, work or attitude, then we can pawn off our lack of getting where we want to go on others, or on circumstances. We don’t have to grow up and take responsibility for the fact that we never plunged in and made the investment.
It’s safe, even if it is now what we want for ourselves.
But a few do make that investment. They decide to do it. They move past reading books to making changes. They hire a coach. They hire consultants. They invest in change and begin the work.
But never finish.
Most of us have it in mind that it should take “X” amount of time to get where we want to be, and the day we move past “X”, we decide we’ve failed.Or it turns out to be more work than we thought, and we decide we’ve failed. Or our path takes an unexpected turn, or someone in our life complains, or ……
Lots and lots of “or’s” But the bottom line is this. We give up. We stop doing the work. And we feel badly about it. Maybe we blame ourselves. Maybe we blame something or someone else. We blame fate or God. We say it was not meant to be.
Here’s’ the ugly truth. Almost any proven process to success, both personal success in and success in our businesses and organization, will work.
But only if they are started. And only if they are followed through.
A little more than a decade ago, as I was coming out of a three year time of therapy spawned by my divorce, I asked my therapist “How many people see the work through to the end, when they are really better and ready for sucess in life?”
That is all, she said. Most get OK. THey get a little better and decide that is good enough, never getting to full emotional health again. Settling.
After a few years as a coach/consultant for people and organizations that want to succede, I find the same thing. A fair number start. A few finish. The few who stick with it, get there. They build lives they want. They grow their businesses. They create wealth or balance or joy or relationships – whatever it is they want.
And the number is about 10%.
This is on my mind today for a couple of reasons. First, in the past couple of weeks, a couple of my clients finished their work. They got what where they wanted to go. They did the work and they persisted. Step by step, day in and day out, meeting to meeting, they started, investing in themselves, and stayed with it until they got there.
I love seeing their success. I’ll get some testimonies from them, but the truth is that while I led them through the process, THEY did the work. They created their own success. By starting, and by staying with it.
And the second reason? This article from today’s New York Times, in which the author points out the same thing this article does, that there is no secret to making life what we want other than starting and finishing, step by unremarkable step, until we get there.
But he puts it in emotional terms. It’s the choice between choosing to make our dreams reality…. or regrets.
The choice is ours. Every day. As I often say, the gig is up. Which is it?
Be well. Travel wisely,