Success File

A Thanksgiving Ritual… Little Things That Really Mattered to Me!

By Susan Ford Collins

In our family, Thanksgiving is about much more than just food! Oh yes, every year I make homemade cranberry sauce, a huge rice-stuffed turkey roasted till golden brown with onions, mushrooms and carrots, plus neatly trimmed broccoli “trees” for the kids and a mouth-watering array of regular as well as gluten-free pumpkin pies. But most delicious of all (tucked inconspicuously among the silverware and napkins on the long cloth-covered table) we enjoy something more. A ritual!

Little 3” x 3” slips of colorful paper are set under the napkins beside each person’s plate… along with small stubby pens… so when the meal is over and we’re still too full for desert, we can write each other messages about “something you did or were this year that really mattered to me… a phone call at just the right time, a welcome word of praise, a hug or smile that was desperately needed; the kind of mother or friend you were; the example you set that made the way easier for someone else in the family. Something you probably don’t even remember, but I do. And I want to thank you for doing it or being it.” Then we share our notes with everyone else at the table.

On Thanksgivings when we have lots of guests, instead of writing our messages, we go around the table sharing them out loud, generating smiles, hearty chuckles and even grateful tears. Spoken words are wonderful, but words written have an advantage… They last! In the months that follow, we’ve all noticed these saved “things that really mattered to me” slips of paper posted on refrigerator doors, pinned on bulletin boards or neatly creased and folded in bowls of seashells, sea glass and other memorabilia. These tiny notes serve as powerful reminders too. On particularly challenging days, it’s wonderful to reread what was said about us and, even more heartwarming, to recall what was said about our kids. To know about the kind deeds they’ve done for others that we would never otherwise hear about, or be able to enjoy.

And, now that these notes have become a family ritual, we’re on the lookout all year for experiences we can write on next year’s colorful Thanksgiving notes! But we frequently deliver them long before knowing there’ll be lots more by then!

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on Self-Confidence, read Skill 1 in The Joy of Success and Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…

the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback$3.99 eBook

Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

 

 

When Your Success File is Full, You Feel Success-Full

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.

Deletion Successes include: Being able to eliminate old habits, outgrown ways of thinking and reacting that no longer work for you. Letting go of an outgrown relationship you’ve tried everything to improve. Or a well-paying job you’ve done too many times to enjoy. Success is quitting smoking, drugs, sugar, wheat, caffeine or whatever else you choose. Or it's rethinking your society-rewarded addiction to long hours, money and power.

Remember this: Each time you acknowledge that you complete or delete a creation cycle ( I want to... I do... I experience) a new quantum of energy is released for your use now.  

3- Success is Creation… and ultimately creating your own life

The most joyous part of success is also the most challenging. To stop looking back, to what others did and didn’t do and start looking ahead to creating what you want moment-to-moment. What do I want to eat today for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks? What kind of exercise would work best for my body? Do I want to go to that noon meeting or have lunch with my friend? Do I want to stop to handle this phone call now or respond to a message later? Do I have the time and energy to take on a new project, or do I want to tell its creator, No I can't do it now? Do I want to go out to dinner with friends or stay home to rebalance? To plan and dream my life?

The new parent, new manager dilemma

New mothers (and fathers) face a success crisis at the birth of their child. Suddenly, instead of enjoying the successes they’re used to... getting up and exercising, taking a shower, heading to work, staying late if they need to, going out in the evening—they are at a loss for success as they’ve known it. Sleep deprived, shower deprived, independence deprived, or home on maternity leave, they are hard pressed to Success File. After a few weeks, they feel down not just because of hormonal changes but because of success changes as well.

As parents we need to realize that what we can include in our Success Files has multiplied. Not only can we file all the new successes we are having as parents—preparing food, changing diapers, giving baths, smiling and cooing back, making our baby feel safe and acknowledged, making our child’s needs a higher priority than our own. But we can also file all the successes our child is having—the first time she grips our hand with those tiny, perfectly formed fingers; the first time he looks us straight in the eye and smiles knowingly; the first time she sits up or crawls or walks or rides a bike or sings or reads, or does any of these activities a little better; the first time he sleeps without a pacifier, rides without training wheels, or crosses a street without holding your hand.

Yes, as parents, our children’s successes are our successes too. But ultimately, our greatest successes will be supporting our children as they differentiate between our ideas about success, their society’s ideas, and their own. Our greatest successes will be living and modeling the skills they will need to lead their own lives.

Top producers experience a similar success crisis when they step up into management. Suddenly the criterion for their success changes from what they are able to do all by themselves… to what everyone they are managing is able to do. Suddenly there is the opportunity to jump from satisfaction, which comes as a result of our own efforts, to fulfillment, “to realize all one's potentialities as a person” (New Webster’s Dictionary) which comes as the result of our leadership.

We humans are like seeds that produce plants that produce seeds that produce hundreds and thousands and millions and billions of plants and seeds more. Make sure you file not just your successes but the successes of all those you lead at home, at school, at work, in your community and world. ... including those that may appear to threaten your current view of the world. The very ideas that could transform your life, our children's lives and their children's lives...!

How successful do you feel? That depends on two essential things: How you define success and how willing you are to make time to Success File. Success is not just aimed at or desired. Success is feeling satisfied and fulfilled by what you choose to do, and be, on a daily basis.

Marjorie, my dear, creating a successful family requires millions and even billions of daily completions, deletions and creations. So now that you know, you can feel as Highly Success-Full as your kids do!

Remember:

When your Success File is low, you feel dependent and needy.
When your Success File is full, you feel Success-Full and confident...
ready and able to lead your life, your way.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 1st Success Skill, read The Joy of Success and Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***
Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins

Success Quiz: Are You Using All 10 Success Skills… At the Right Time?

By Susan Ford Collins

Most people complain about not having enough time, but the truth is most of us spend time doing things that don’t really matter to our success. What does?

Take a few minutes to complete this Success Quiz. Then I will share with you how Highly Successful People (HSPs) answered these questions…

1. How often do you acknowledge yourself for what you accomplish?
Circle one:   daily          weekly              monthly            annually            

2. How often do you fall asleep thinking about what you didn’t get done or you’re afraid might happen?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

3. Are you able to maintain your confidence when obstacles and failures confront you?
Circle one:   rarely   sometimes        frequently

4. Do you pride yourself on doing “more-better-faster”?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

5. Do you make time to learn the basics of new skills before you start using them?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

6. Can you stand up in a meeting and say you don’t agree?
Circle one:   yes           no

7. How often do you push so hard that you can’t slow down to rest?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

8. Do you share your dreams with others or keep them to yourself?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

9. Do you spell out the details of outcomes you delegate?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

10. Would you rather ask an expert for input or figure it out yourself?
Circle one:   ask expert                   figure out

11. Do you need to know how you’ll reach your goal before you take action?
Circle one:   yes           no

12. Can you comfortably move into the unknown when you have a clear outcome in mind?
Circle one:   yes           no 

13. Do methods and solutions come to you out of the blue?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

14. When you are stressed, do you spend time away from the task?
Circle one:   rarely        sometimes        frequently

So now let’s compare your answers with theirs…

1. HSPs make time each day to acknowledge themselves for the successes they’re having. But the successes they have in mind aren’t just the usual ones. For them, success goes beyond finishing “business to dos.” It includes things that keep their lives in balance… eating a good breakfast, exercising, spending time with family and friends, buying gas, dropping off dry cleaning and remembering to pick it up. Most people don’t acknowledge themselves for completing things like these, but what happens to your productivity when you leave them undone? For HSPs, success also means saying NO to actions that violate their values and dreams. Deletion Successes can be the most important ones of all! And how about acknowledging yourself for your creative ideas... even if no one agrees they're possible yet!

2. People who “succeed big” know that the last few minutes of their day are most important. Your brain is in the Alpha State so it’s the perfect time to think about what you want tomorrow and long term. And the worst time to beat yourself up for oversights and failures. As you fall asleep, plan how you’ll make corrections instead. Remember: What you think is what you get, like it or not… so focus on what you do want instead of what you don’t want. That tiny change in focus will enhance your ability to move your life and career ahead!

3. If you are Success Filing—that is, acknowledging your successes each day—you will have the confidence to continue to move ahead when everything goes wrong, when obstacles besiege you and everyone disappoints you. Remember: When your Success File is full, you feel Success-Full. When it is low, you feel dependent and needy… at the mercy of others’ opinions and in need of their agreement. HSPs are willing to put off low priority items, but making time to Success File each day is a number one item for them.

4. Constantly priding yourself on doing more-better-faster lands you in The Success Trap, constantly having to work longer and harder to raise the quantity-quality bar higher and higher. It can also land you in the hospital. For staying power, you need to acknowledge yourself for slowing down to learn new skills and technologies, for allowing your mind to wander into future possibilities and solutions. In today's business environment, creativity and innovation are becoming more important than productivity.

5. It is essential to slow down to a stop from time to time. Why? Because unless you do, you won’t be able to gear your mind back to learn new skills and technologies and so you'll slip behind. HSPs schedule time to learn the most efficient tools and approaches available, rather than slogging along with equipment, programs and procedures that weren’t designed to do what you need to do now. Make time to master the basics before you attempt to gear up into 2nd Gear production. Otherwise the mistakes you make will trip up you and your teammates and take more time in the end.

6. To stay ahead, you have to be able to disagree with the pack. For some people, getting others’ agreement is more important than getting their result. Not so for HSPs. They can stand up, disagree and then so powerfully communicate the details of the scenario they see, hear and feel, that other people take on their vision and team up with them. They lead the way by inspiration, not perspiration.

7. When you push so long and hard that you can’t slow down to rest, you’ve gone over the edge. HSPs use this over-the-edge feeling to signal when they’re overusing the 2nd Gear of Success. Yes, success has three gear-like phases and unless you know when to shift, unless you can use all three gears as circumstances require, you’ll burn out your transmission… and that means your body. And the time lost will set your business way back. Read The Joy of Success and Success Has Gears for specifics on the Three Gears of Success and Leadership.

8. Highly successful business people share their dreams with Codreamers, people who hold onto the details of their dream with them. People who contribute additional perspectives and information. People they can call when they come out of a meeting so devastated that their dream seems to have literally been erased from their minds. One phone call to a Codreamer can get you back on track. Who are your Codreamers? And who are your Codreaders (the ones who always tell you reasons why not?) Make sure you know the difference!

9. Going so fast that you can’t gear down to spell out the details of a task you’re delegating may seem expedient at the time. But in the long run it could ruin your business. To get the support you need from coworkers, customers and vendors, you need to share precisely what you have in mind. When you provide a sketch, others will automatically fill in the details they have in mind instead of the ones you have in mind. Beware of Sensory Fill-in! Who is responsible for the errors that result? You are of course.

10. Would you rather ask an expert or figure it out yourself? Well, that all depends. If you're climbing up the learning curve, then asking experts and following their directions is what works best… with one exception. When you know next to nothing about something, using a salesperson as your expert may set you up to buy what’s best for him or her, but not for you. Consult an independent expert before you make a major purchase. On the other hand, depending on tried-and-true experts when you are creating something new, may take you back to how it’s already been done. Listen to their input but, as its creator, know that you are the ultimate expert when it comes to your dream!

11. When we were kids, we were rewarded for doing things by the book. But as the head of your own business or life, that simply won’t work. These days, having-to-know-how upfront will hold you back. What you need is a thoroughly detailed outcome… then the appropriate method will find you. Powerful life changes, inventions and new businesses frequently start out as hunches or middle of the night Ahas! Most leaders I interview tell me they rarely know how, but they always know what.

12. The ability to venture into the unknown is essential today. The marketplace is changing so rapidly that top CEOs say they don’t have a ten-year plan or a five-minute plan either. Flexibility is key. Can you think on your feet? Can you seize an opportunity that others fail to notice? Can you abandon your ten-year-ago or five-minute-ago action plan and take the next step to your dream when it presents itself?

13. For years I interviewed inventors and creators and over and over I heard the same comments. I woke up in the night with a clear image in my head or a voice telling me what to do. Or I was taking a shower when my idea hit me. Jeff Bezos, creator of Amazon.com, was so sure about his hunch that he packed up everything he owned and moved across the country in pursuit of his dream. And we all know he found it!

14. When you’re stuck, instead of sitting and staring at your computer screen, get up and do something else. Go for a walk or switch to a project that requires another mindset altogether. HSPs constantly tell me their most creative solutions come when they walk away from their desk and WHAM! The solution comes out of the blue… or out of the right brain. They say they strategically use the Alpha State to “program in” their problem at night and they trust their mind to deliver a solution when they first wake up. And it does.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. For permission to use this article, email susanfordcollins@msn.com

* For more on the 10 Success and Leadership Skills, read The Joy of Success, Success Has Gears or Our Children Are Watching.

THE TECHNOLOGY of SUCCESS Book Series… compact, concise and powerful…
the perfect toolbox for today’s “always-on” global world.

$14.95 paperback  $3.99 eBook

www.technologyofsuccess.com or susanfordcollins *at* msn *dot* com

***
Your Working Life: Caroline Dowd-Higgins interviews Susan Ford Collins