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.

Stop Complaining! What Are Your Solutions?

We all know people who complain a lot. Maybe it’s you, your coworker, or your boss. What we really need are solutions, though, and I hope you have one.

Complainers drag down the workplace, the dinner table, and friendships. Yet, that seems to be the place that people complain the most: places where solutions and love should be shared.

Look, if you have something to complain about, it’s better to ask yourself, “Do I want to solve this”, or “Do I want to just bitch and hope someone else will solve it for me?

Most people opt for the second question. They complain about their life. They complain about the system. They complain that they don’t have enough money. They complain they can’t get a job.

They just complain.

It’s an addiction that feeds upon itself. Eventually, with enough complaining, they’ll start fighting the thoughts in their head.

Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.

Yeah, well the definition of a bitch is someone who complains over and over again, expecting someone else to fix their problem.

Complaints are what caused us to create insane asylums. People back in the day knew how to handle these nutcases: locked ’em up so they didn’t have to hear it, and the rest of us got on with our lives.

We did away with the insane asylums, because someone complained about them. I think that’s why the Internet is full of people complaining about whatever the media tells them to.

If you’re the kind of person that wants their complaints to go away, then there’s good news for you. Two guys invented a search engine in the 1990’s called Google, and it’s very accurate at finding solutions to your complaints.

Might I suggest asking Google, “Why is my boss a jerk?

If you really need help, ask Google, “Why am I a jerk?

Don’t forget to include yourself in the evaluation.

You’ll never stop complaints, though. Complaints from customers. Complaints from the government. Complaints from suppliers, distributors, and clients. These are people you can’t do without.

The one thing you don’t have to tolerate is complaints from employees. I don’t mean ignore them, but ask them up front when they do complain, “Do you have a solution?”

If the answer is no, then they’re just complaining. They’re hoping you’ll solve the problem for them. As the manager, it’s your duty to address these complaints in a timely manner.

Some bosses fire complainers, which I admire. Get rid of the person who habitually complains. It’s a good indicator they’re not even doing their job in the first place.

Most bosses ignore complaints, and especially the complainers.

I’m interested in the bosses who help employees grow to the point that they stop complaining (so much). Useful employees hear a complaint in their head, and the solution is right behind it.

The best way to train your employees to solve their complaints is to make them available on the company bulletin board. Put the employee’s name next to it, so everyone knows. It’ll discourage complaining.

You can also encourage employees to find solutions. Make it a game: “Whoever clears the bulletin board of complaints the fastest, lunch is on me for a week!”

Congratulations, now you have a real problem solver.

Have a Solution

I emphasize the need for solutions, because that’s what makes complaints go away. If you feel stuck in your career, and you say to yourself, “My career is going nowhere,” then you have to own up to it.

The answer is usually in the complaint. “My career is going nowhere,” should point out that it’s your career, not someone else’s. Therefore it’s your responsibility – the ability to respond – to the belief that it’s not going anywhere.

Here’s a list of things you can do to improve your career.

  • Learn a new skill.
  • Learn more about your industry.
  • Change Companies (Maybe your boss is a jerk, and the new one won’t be.)
  • Show up to work on time with a better attitude.
  • Find a better attitude, first, though.
  • Re-educate yourself, through books, audio books, seminars, conferences, videos, articles, magazines, how-to guides.
  • Get a mentor. Someone else figured it out a long time ago; ask them.
  • Go surfing.
  • Go fishing.
  • Get out of the office for a while. Taken a vacation lately?
  • Knock over the water cooler.

Okay, don’t do that last one, at least not on purpose. Make it look like an accident.

The point is, your complaints will be your complaints until you turn them into your solutions. You solve something first by taking a step in the direction of what you’re complaining about.

Say you don’t like the lighting in your office. Solution: tell the boss, and ask him to put different lights in the office. Let him know they’re giving you skin cancer, and that will only, in the future, raise the cost of the company healthcare plan, and leave him liable for your health.

So I gotta ask…

What are your complaints,
and just as important,
the solutions to those complaints?

Your name will be listed with them in the comments below. It’ll encourage others to provide solutions, myself included.