By Susan Ford Collins
While I was shadowing highly successful people (HSPs) for more than 20 years, I discovered they were using 10 Success Skills consistently. The first and most important is Success Filing.
HSPs made time each day to acknowledge themselves for what they were accomplishing, time to build their Self-Confidence (their faith in themselves, in their ability to change their lives and world) so they didn’t have to rely on others to praise or agree with them… so they didn't need Other-Confidence.
Most HSPs Success Filed once a day. Others filed more often. Some wrote their successes on paper. Others created a Success File on their computer or cell phone. Some simply wrote them in memory. HSPs told me they had been Success Filing for years and they were surprised to realize other people didn't do it!
Success Filing is the key to building Self-Confidence, the confidence you need to lead yourself and others through the periods of doubt, confusion and disagreement that are a inevitable part of creating anything new, anything disagreed with, anything impossible. (Keep in mind, impossible probably just means it hasn't been done before, by you or anyone else… like electricity, cell phones or amazon.com! Jeff Bezos left his job, sold everything he owned and moved his family across the country to start amazon.com. Some people thought he was crazy. Yeah, crazy like a foxy creator!)
Success Filing will give you the Self-Confidence you need to start dreaming again, not stingy, little, "been there and done that" dreams, but big, juicy, exciting dreams like those you had as a child, dreams that wake you up in the night excited, and propel you out of bed eager for your day.
How, and when, to Success File
Pick a time of day that works for you—in a car or train, at dinnertime or bedtime. When and where you Success File is up to you. Who you Success File with is up to you too. (Make sure that person is a Codreamer!) What’s important is regularity. Build the habit. Do it every day!
Rewind your "inner recording" to when you woke up, when you started thinking and doing, and ask yourself this question: What successes did I have today?
But wait! To Success File skillfully… to get the greatest benefit… you need to be clear about what success is, and it isn’t. And never will. (* When I coach people one to one, I start each session by Success Filing to accelerate the growth of this essential habit. And to clarify how to apply it in their lives, and their children's lives.)
Some people mistakenly Failure File at the end of the day, thinking about what they didn't do, couldn't do, what they don't want to happen. Affirming that things never turn out for them. But they can.
What is success… really? How are you defining it?
One of my most cherished memories is of Marjorie, an elegant, slightly built, sixty-something woman who attended one of my early seminars. She had been sitting quietly listening to a hundred or so people sharing their successes when she abruptly raised her hand and stood up. With tears streaming down her face, she blurted out, "You've all had lots of successes, but I've never had any. I was never an A student, I’ve never had a job, I’ve never made money or won prizes or earned bonuses or plaques." Then she sobbed openly.
As I asked questions to discover more about Marjorie's life, she told us she had raised six highly successful children... teachers, lawyers, writers, even an inventor. And her children were raising successful families as well. Marjorie happily listed her children and grandchildren’s prizes and achievements, but she didn't see how their accomplishments had any relevance to her. All her life she had felt like a failure. In fact, that was the reason she was attending my seminar: Her HSP kids had sent her!
During breaks I watched to see how Marjorie was doing and saw her in the hall with people all around her talking and sharing. They were relating to Marjorie’s story, to her lifelong struggle to feel confident and successful. The next day was the same and the next. Finally on the last day of the seminar Marjorie raised her hand again. This time she stood up proudly and spoke, "I want to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. I came here a failure. But I leave here a success. My new thinking about success has changed my life forever!"
Here’s what Marjorie learned in my seminar.
Success has three essential parts…
1- Success is Completion
Success is being able to complete what you have in mind. Getting up early. Lacing your sneakers and running your route. Emptying the trash. Eating a healthy breakfast. Calling your child's spelling words. Getting gas in your car. Returning phone calls. Completing items on your to do list. Following through with salad for lunch instead of your usual pasta. Speaking out about a concern you have with a project or timeframe. Stopping to pick up groceries and dry cleaning on the way home. Reading your child the story you promised. Sharing your day with your mate.
Without daily successes, your life falls apart. Your body gets out of shape. You run out of gas and arrive late for your meeting. Your clients abandon you and find others who can serve them more skillfully. Your boss constantly points out your lack of follow through. There's no food in the refrigerator. Your trash is piling up. There's no clean underwear in the drawer. Your electricity is turned off. Your car isn't running right. Your child is upset and insecure, hostile and acting out.
Without daily successes your Self-Confidence falls apart too, because completions like these are what the life experience is all about. Long term goals are realized in tiny daily steps. Long term relationships are enjoyed in daily conversations. Long term careers are the result of day to day completions. Long term dreams come true because you take steps each day with those dreams clearly in mind.
Marjorie, you are indeed successful... Highly Successful in fact! Lifelong parenting, like yours, requires years and years of daily completions… whether you feel like doing them or not! Remember all those sleepless nights you spent taking care of sick kids, and all those times you had to help your teens do projects and assignments they'd left till the last minute?
2- Success is also Deletion
But defining success as only completion sets us up to be "productive robots" always needing to do more and have more. Higher scores, higher profits, more exciting sex and adventures. Faster cars, planes, bodies, lives. Bigger TVs or far smaller ones. Higher mountains to climb, deeper space to explore. Always desiring and aiming at but never there. Never satisfied. Never feeling Success-Full and whole.
Any skillful gardener will tell you that a healthy tree needs regular pruning. That's true of success too. Success is also cutting out, down or back. Like completions, deletions release energy—energy you’ve had tied up and unavailable for years—so you can begin using it to create the experiences you want. So you can enjoy a healthy, balanced, fulfilling life.