Personal Growth

The Three C’s and D’s of Success and Failure

These are the three words that describe how to achieve success, or how to fail.

Certain and Doubt

The first step toward success is to be certain we’ll achieve it. The first step toward failure is to doubt we’ll get where we want to go.

Think of a pie chart, where 50% is certainty of success, and the remaining 50% is certainty of failure.

To increase our certainty of success, we produce evidence that supports our ability to succeed.

  • When we increase our certainty of success, we can’t help but reduce our certainty of failure.

To reduce our certainty of success, we do the opposite and produce evidence that discredits our ability to succeed.

  • When we reduce our certainty of success, we can’t help but increase our certainty of failure.

For example:

A sales manager, excited that his team can increase revenue by 10% for the year, asks for sales reports over the past five years. He notes that sales have increased, max, in the first year alone, 5%, and has gone downhill since. He accepts those numbers as evidence that there is more certainty of failure than success. He believes, “This is not likely to happen.”

Doubt is a powerful emotion that says we’re accepting evidence that goes against our best interests.

Certainty is a more powerful emotion that says we’re willing to consider evidence that goes against our best interests, but we don’t let it reduce our ability to succeed. We remain focused on our goals, and find a way.

Courage and Discourage

The second step toward success is to have courage, which is taking action despite any fears that we’ll fail.

Discourage is the second step toward failure, which requires giving into doubt by not taking action.

When we are certain of our success, and we have the courage to take action, we may still fail, but we’ll have the energy and the drive to continue toward success.

Discouragement happens when we are so certain we will fail, that we let the fear of failure take over, which reduces energy and drive, and keeps us moving toward failure.

  • Courage builds on certainty, creating upward momentum.
  • Discouragement reduces certainty, creating a downward spiral.

Our goals are at the top of the mountain, not the bottom of the lake, so let’s focus on certainty and courage. In order to get there, though, we need…

Clarity or Distraction

Once we are certain of our ability to succeed, and have the courage to take action, we must have clarity, which is knowing where to go. In fact, success can be clarity, if an idea, understanding, or the truth, is what you wanted.

Clarity can also be defined as evidence: more money, time, love, etc.

Distraction is the final step of failure, and one most people keep themselves in. When we distract ourselves, we can’t possibly have clarity when we aren’t even looking in the right direction.

How can we possibly get through the jungle without looking at the path?

Most people distract themselves with something familiar, because it’s comfortable, and they know what to expect. Those two things guarantee stagnation, and stagnation eventually means failure, as nature will, at some point, command people to adapt or be left behind.

Success isn’t about getting left behind. It’s the opposite: it’s about moving ahead, onward, continuously. In order to do this, clarity is needed, so we headed on paths that take us where we want to go.

Even if we get lost, that doesn’t mean we’ve failed. Only if we choose to be stubborn and not get clarity have we failed.

Don’t be stubborn.