hold your outcome

Commit to Outcome and Stay Open to Possibilites

By Susan Ford Collins


Over the years I’ve asked highly successful inventors how they made their discoveries, and the answers they gave me were frequently the same: the chemical spilled; the formula overheated; the wrong ingredients were mixed and—BAM—they invented it. (Latin inventus, “to come upon.”) With their outcome clearly in mind, opportunities came “out of the blue.” And they were able to spot them and use them.

Here's an example. In 1993, David Levy along with Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker spent months in the Palomar Observatory preparing to photograph a comet that had been drawn into Jupiter’s gravitational field and fractured into 21 pieces that would strike its surface like a string of bullets. Everything was ready until they discovered someone had opened the film box by mistake and exposed the film. Doubt set in. It was overcast so seeing the comet at all was highly unlikely but, committed to their outcome, they decided “to go for it.” So they pulled out film exposed along the edges and started shooting, hoping it would be usable in the middle.

When Carolyn inspected the film later, there was the comet in the middle of the first shot! This almost-missed photograph heralded a major astronomical event… the first collision of two solar system bodies ever observed. Because of their persistence and their profound pictures, the comet was named Shoemaker-Levy 9.

There were other challenges connected with photographing this event. The Galileo probe was in the right place at the right time, not because of careful planning and scientific precision, but because its launch had been delayed; its antennae which had been stored too long, failed to open; and Galileo needed to be reprogrammed in flight. Where was the comet when Galileo was finally ready? Straight ahead and perfectly positioned to record the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet crashing into Jupiter, sending up a six-mile high plume and creating a bruise the size of Earth on its surface.

Things went wrong. It looked impossible. They almost lost hope. But with everyone focused on getting those pictures, the process unfolded in divine time and order. Call it intention or prayer… either way the ability to hold an outcome and seize out-of-the-blue opportunities is one of the astounding powers we have been given. And the 7th Success Skill is the one we need to take advantage of this power.

When did obstacles and interferences become reasons to give up your outcome? When did discomfort and disagreement change your mind and course? What other outcome did you end up with... one you wanted, or one that didn't really matter to you? That left you disappointed? And when did you hold an outcome—a mission, commitment, goal or dream—all the way to completion? When did you feel the satisfaction and the power of the 7th Success Skill? Would you like to do it more often?

© 2015 Susan Ford Collins. Contact me for permission to use it.

What Dylan's Birthmark Taught Him About Life

By Susan Ford Collins

By age seven, Dylan had had eleven laser surgeries. He was born with a huge birthmark that, if left untreated, would grow into a raised purple blemish covering his neck and cheek like a man’s beard. One month after birth, Dylan had his first laser treatment, not by choice of course, but because his parents knew the torment their son would endure throughout his life otherwise.

Every surgery was like preliving his untreated future. Hours afterward the whole area was swollen and purple. For weeks, whenever his mother took Dylan to a mall or out in a stroller, people stared not just at him but at her, wondering.

After eleven treatments, Dylan’s birthmark appeared to be gone except for a barely noticeable patch, but the doctors said it would expand and darken as he grew. This time Dylan chose to have surgery himself, a doubly-hard decision because now Dylan knew how painful past procedures had been. But like a brave little soldier he told his Mom, “Please schedule another laser surgery for me.”

This treatment was a group effort. His father, a doctor, visited Dylan’s school to explain the procedure to his teachers and classmates and prepare them for what Dylan would look like for the next few weeks. His mother showed Dylan photos of his shrinking birthmark and helped him visualize it shrinking again, or even disappearing. The night before, Dylan was anxious. No, he hadn’t changed his mind, but memories of that laser striking his tender skin, of burning, bruising and swelling, of people staring kept rushing in.

The next morning in the operating room Dylan held his arm still as the anesthesiologist inserted the needle to put him to sleep. Even though Dylan woke from the anesthesia fighting and screaming, even though he dreaded having his mother apply the prescribed cream to his tender face, even though players on a visiting team called Dylan “a grape head” his first day back on the soccer field, Dylan sailed through the healing process knowing, “I wanted to do that and I did. And I can do that or something even harder again if I have to... as long as I continue to hold my outcome."

Dylan’s birthmark had brought a blessing. He’d learned a Success Skill that would assist him whenever he sat down to do homework, whenever his team was behind on the soccer field, whenever he had to buckle down to do the hard work needed to succeed in business school and life.

(c) Susan Ford Collins. Contact me for permission to use it.

* For more on the 7th Success Skill, how to stay on course to your desired outcomes, read The Joy of Success: 10 Essential Skills for Getting the Success You Want.

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