We can all look at successful people with envy and wish we could have the success that they enjoyed in their area of focus. Maybe we see someone at our company that has an extremely large salary and think “I wish I made that much!”
Or maybe we see a famous athlete and wish we had the ability to succeed at the pro level and play among the elite. Maybe we see our personal trainer and wish we had abs like he or she has.
It is really easy to pick and choose areas of success with others and want to apply those same levels of success to us personally. But the problem is that we are cherry picking.
We want the success in some areas while not being willing to sacrifice in other areas. This makes sense because when we look at others it is much easier to pass judgment than it is to actually change our own behavior.
So we pick and choose what we wish we had rather than seeing the full picture. If we look systematically at each case individually we will likely see areas that we certainly don’t want.
Maybe they sacrificed loved ones in their life to remain at work in order to get ahead and earn that enormous salary. Maybe they are miserable and using drugs or alcohol to compensate for their guilty conscious. The problem with only seeing their area of success is that we are often blind to the full picture.
Or maybe they simply made all the difficult decisions every day that we are unwilling to make. They worked out while we went to a buffet. They stayed home and studied while we went to a party.
The point of this article isn’t to pass more judgment, it is simply for us to take more of a systems thinking approach. We should look at the full system to better understand their success, and their failures.
This can help in our personal journey for improvement because it can clue us into what it takes to succeed in those areas. We can find numerous examples of success and then review the full systems at play. This will start to clue us into what our systems have to look like if we expect similar results.
Sometimes when I do this I think, “ok maybe I don’t envy their success.” Learning all of the ignored behaviors and sacrifices reveals a completely different picture. Without the hard work and tough decisions we just see success that resembles luck more than hard work.
In order to improve we can’t just sit back and hope and wish for luck to bless us. We have to decide that we control our future and we determine our own level of success. The way we decide, the habits we have, the sacrifices we make all contribute to our success and/or failure.
So start taking a look at the full picture in order to truly understand what we have to do in order to reach our highest goals. Then start to slowly chip away at that mountain of work by taking one small step at a time and turning it into habit.
Over time when we take steps that we systematize, we can add more and more and more. Rather than simply jumping around to different areas, which just gives temporary success, we can start to build the right foundation for long-term success.