Accomplishment & Success: Can’t Have One Without The Other

Success. Accomplishment. Most of us crave them in some form. My question is…Do we recognize them when we achieve them?

Often, no. Without knowing what you’re looking for, you’ll never know if you’ve found it.

Story time:

Seven or eight years ago now, I had a conversation with my mother which involved both of us describing our ideals of “success”.

I don’t remember what hers were. I remember enough about mine to laugh at the naivete. Among my thoughts—

  • I’ve published at least one New York Times best seller.
  • I have enough money to show up to my high school reunion on a custom Harley and wearing leathers studded with semi-precious stones. (Yes, you may point and laugh all you wish.)
  • I never worry about money, even if I spend several thousand dollars a month on stuff that doesn’t matter.

I’m disappointed, younger self.

See, while these are obvious signs of accomplishment to the people who don’t matter in my daily life, they don’t truly mean much. The reasons why?

  • The New York Times best seller list is a money game between the big NY publishing houses.
  • I care about very few people from my graduating class enough to concern myself with impressing them.
  • Yes, money helps, but what would I SPEND several thousand dollars a month in random cash on?

So what ARE we looking for?

The Twins: Success & Accomplishment

Ever owned a house plant? So far, I’ve owned two in my life. One was a bamboo. The poor dear likely ended up in a dumpster when we rushed our last move.

Now, I’ve got a parade rose on my desk. The orange beauties need daily light watering. Just an ice cube or two. Success in caring for a house plant is easy to see.

My roses get wilted, I’m not getting them enough water or sun.

My roses stand tall and proud? I’m succeeding in my job as caretaker.

Seeking success is a matter not of “getting there” but of small, genuine accomplishments daily, weekly, monthly. It’s the invisible twin that holds no recognition until many accomplishments have built up over time.

Accomplishment is the obvious twin. This twin can be found in the daily details of everything from running a household to running a corporation. Getting up in the morning. Keeping the files organized. Washing the dishes.

Seek genuine accomplishment and success will likely follow.

Genuine Accomplishment a.k.a. DO THE THING!

We all have that ONE project. It’s sat in the back of your head for six months, six years, or six decades. I don’t care how long. The vintage airplane to restore. The book not yet written. The painting not yet painted. The language not yet learned.

You want to do it, but you don’t do it. You hesitate.


Among the winners: No time. No money. Could be “more productive”.

Now, if your project is restoring a vintage airplane to operating capacity, yeah, okay. The money part has some validity. You need parts and stuff. Although it may just be a matter of changing your budget somehow.

Nearly every no time excuse is exactly that. An excuse. I didn’t have the capacity to see or count all the minutes I wasted on stuff like Netflix and Surf when I could’ve been writing. I just know I did it.

As for needing time to decompress, etc, yes, day jobs can suck out your soul, if you let them. Don’t let them. After all, it’s your soul, your passion, your determination and drive. Not someone else’s.

As for decompressing, if The Project happens to be a passion, doing it won’t be a chore. It CAN be your decompression.

Now why bother overcoming whatever mental and physical hurdles we have to do the thing?
To accomplish something. It’s worth the pain.

Now I ask you, what’s your ONE PROJECT? What do you really want to do? Share with me in the comments, and let’s have a conversation!

Shadow Games of Belief and How We Self-Sabotage

Ever tried to catch a shadow? I remember as a kid seeing shadows, mine and other people’s and playing a game with them. Looking back, the best term is probably Shadow Tag. I’d try to jump on the shadow to get either the shadow or the person to stop moving.

I truly believed I could catch shadows.

Over two decades later, I know now that shadows are created when a solid object blocks light, and thus I can’t catch them. As fun a game as it was, and is with kids, I never succeeded in catching a shadow. I never caught a person with their own shadow either. At best, I would jump into the dark place made by the shadow and proclaim I had won. 😀

Now, obtaining adult success often feels like chasing those shadows as a kid. Sometimes, those shadows lurk in our subconscious beliefs.

I know it’s not.

I also know that no one else’s idea of success looks quite like mine.

I do know we all fight similar troubles getting there, though, when we look past the superficial stuff and get to the core of the issue. The superficial stuff is the finances, the health problems, all those pieces that look different like shadows on a sidewalk.

The core is the beliefs that stop us from doing.

Don’t give me that look. I’m serious!

I know, you probably believe that you have no beliefs holding you back. Like me all those years ago, you’re also probably wrong. Sorry. You’re not the first.

I was wrong when I believed my lack of success stemmed from a bad hand and bad luck. It came from holding beliefs about success inconsistent with logic and natural law.

Like the idea that I had to be capable of paying $32K in cash for a brand new car to be a success. Or I had to be able to pay cash for my house in order to be a success.

Logically, because I come from quite humble beginnings, there was no reason to believe these things were common or realistic, but I believed them.

As for natural laws, well no crop will grow that hasn’t yet been planted. I hadn’t done the planting, and so such wealth was beyond me to obtain. I had to look at my beliefs, and find the one driving my behavior on an instinct level.

I didn’t like what I found.

If I follow the advice of [a parent with little understanding of money or economy], I can become wealthy.

If I am wealthy, I am successful.

I don’t think so. Once again, I had to change my beliefs in order to change my instinctive behaviors. Worth it, BUT NOT EASY! First, I had to figure out what beliefs would actually lead to behaviors that would prove useful to me.

If I follow the advice of individuals who understand success, I can become a success.

If I am a success, I may become wealthy.

If I want wealth, I must understand currency and economy. (We have currency now, not money. Money would mean actual gold coins in your hand. I digress.)

I adopted these beliefs. And when I adopted them, my entire mode of action and behavior changed with them. Instead of waiting for opportunities to “get rich”, I did some serious soul-searching to find what I excelled at—what I loved doing enough to do it EVERY DAY.

I changed my definition of success to include a planet-load of work.

I started reading books on success, on business, on finance, and began building a plan. Granted, this took a solid ten years to see fruition. As I said, worth it. Not easy.

However, I can now say I consider every day that I work on that plan a success. Does that make me a success? Who knows.

In the meantime, what beliefs do you suspect in yourself that may be leading your success? What about the ones driving your failures? If you found the beliefs above in yourself, would you have replaced them the same way, or done something different? I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment below!

The Strangest Secret to Success. The Worthy Ideal

How do I succeed? How do I become a success?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve asked myself both questions in a thousand ways over the course of my life. Mostly because once you’re accused of failure enough, success starts feeling like this.

I agree, Tulio. I agree. So, I skated by high school with C’s and D’s and the burning desire shared by most teens to “change the world”! So far, I have not changed the world. But this post is about success anyway. I don’t have to be a superstar to get it. In fact, I’d wager some superstars still think themselves utter failures. 😉

So What Is Success, Anyway?

I’ve found only one definition I can stick by. Mostly because it doesn’t sound like those cheap, clichéed posters plastered all over my high school walls. You know, the ones shouting about how your Attitude Determines Your Altitude and all that?

Last I checked, if all you have is a positive attitude, Everest will STILL give you frostbite. Sorry, positive thinking people.

So the definition? Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. I encountered this definition in a sales presentation from 1956 by Earl Nightingale. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. The Strangest Secret.

This 32 minutes can change your life. Highly worth the listen. The definition of success I gave above can be found at approximately 1:45 into the video.

By that definition, both my degree in theater, and my certificate for massage therapy, and my massage license were abysmal acts of FAILURE. Because my ultimate goal is to make a living AS A WRITER. I learned a lot. I wouldn’t give up that world experience for anything. But during those years, I was not progressively realizing the ideal of making a living through my writing.

And let’s look at that final phrase. Worthy ideal. Who decides what a worthy ideal is?





I mentioned this post to Shay last night, and after some attempts to understand each other, had this question posed to me:

How do you define your personal success to someone who has loftier goals in mind FOR you?

In my mind, the simple answer is, you don’t. They have already defined a particular brand for success in their mind. What you are doing does not fit this brand. Thus, you are not succeeding. Much of it goes back to this concept of the worthy ideal.

The Worthy Ideal

Everyone expects Elsa, but I feel like Gru in a dress…

Most people get the Ideal half of this phrase. That’s setting a picture of the goal in your mind and going for it. The problem I observe is that so many of us get stuck trying to thrust OUR idea of Worthy onto other people.

Back to Mount Everest. Both climbing Everest, and living a positive life can be worthy ideals. However they are not instantly interchangeable. Living a positive life because you are a positive person in no way makes you fit or experienced enough to climb Mount Everest. And some of the folks who do climb Mount Everest? Well, they did it for personal reasons that had nothing to do with positivity.

So what you see as a worthy ideal will not necessarily be the same as what someone else sees as a worthy ideal. I love writing. I see being a writer as a worthy ideal. Shay loves art and sees being an artist as a worthy ideal.

Many thousands of people see both of these goals as impractical and ridiculous, even childish fantasies, rather than worthy ideals, because they just “aren’t practical”.

A Final Note On Practical

First, set aside half an hour, and go watch that video. I’ll wait. Nightingale NEVER specifies what KIND of worthy ideal he’s talking about. Or how practical it has to be. Here’s why.

Goals are not, by nature, a practical thing. There, I said it. Goals are concerned entirely with what you WANT to happen, in a way, the theory or idea of it happening, and not the actual doing or use of something. Goals DRIVE practical behavior. I want to be a writer, so I write. Shay wants to be an artist, so they agreed to illustrate Dragon Hoard Books. (Don’t forget, another one this Saturday.)

When someone tells you, “That goal you have isn’t practical,” what they’re saying is, It doesn’t fit in my concept of worthy ideal.

In fact, I TRIED going the practical route. I got fully licensed as a massage therapist in Idaho. Then, not only could I not find a job, but anyone keeping up with my blog saw the health crash that happened. I physically COULDN’T be a massage therapist. So the get training, get a day job that pays $20 or so an hour, and then build my writing career slowly if I remembered? Wasn’t practical.

So what do you think? Are your goals worthy of your ideals? Do you see your ideals as worthy? What kind of success do you crave, and what’s your plan to get it? Watch the video, and then let me know in the comments!

The Law of Attraction: Draw, Hype, and Reality

Show of hands, how many of you have heard of the Law of Attraction?  Everyone?  Now I see a lot of you rolling your eyes.  I get it.  I do.  You think I’m about to say you can have, do, and be anything you want, just by virtue of wanting it because reasons.

Instant Redirect!

Here’s the thing.  No one ever made anything happen just because they wanted it to.  I can want my Pepsi to rise up via the Force and pour itself into my caffeine-parched lips without any effort on my part, and it won’t happen.  It’s a point JP Sears actually addresses wonderfully in this video, which I ran into while trolling YouTube in the apparently not-so-vain hope of finding a blog topic this morning.

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Now, if you don’t want to spend six minutes watching the video this instant, fine, don’t (although I’m watching you, so you’d better do it later.)  There are two main points he brings up.  Just believing the Law of Attraction works is not enough, nor is the Law itself enough.  And do you really want your ego in charge?  Because both points are excellent points.

In the movie (as well as the book of the same title) The Secret, the Law of Attraction is presented as the method by which absolutely everything in our lives comes to us.  Failure, success, money.  Mentally, it looks a little like this, in my mind.

Show me the money!

Here’s the reality of it.  The Law of Attraction as portrayed in the movie and the book both titled The Secret are merely a candy-coated incarnation of a much older, and consistently applied concept, illustrated in a quote found at roughly the 11:25 mark of the video inserted below, which holds a recording my brother introduced me to long before Oprah adopted The Secret.

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It’s know as The Strangest Secret, originally recorded by Earl Nightingale for a small group of salesmen, Colombia Records recorded and distributed it in 1956.  It sold over 1 million copies, and became the first spoken word record to receive a Gold Album.  The quote I’m referring to is this.  Man becomes what he thinks about.

Just before he drops this quote, Nightingale refers to it as both the key to success and the key to failure.  Unlike the Secret, however, he doesn’t begin to say it is absolutely responsible for EVERYTHING in your life, simply the major trajectory of your life.  In fact, at one point, he compares success to baking apple pie.  If whoever is making dinner that night never decides to have apple pie with dinner, then they won’t think about getting a recipe for apple pie, nor will they make an apple pie.

The Law of Attraction, the Secret of Success, whatever you want to call it, is essentially this concept.  It is the idea that we must learn a genuine sense of gratitude for what we already have, and then begin to build on those dreams in our lives that represent what Nightingale describes as “the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”  That is the reality.  Take of the mask of a shiny little key to the lock of success and realize what looked like a key is actually a wrench to help you build the success you want.

Check out both videos, and let me know what your thoughts on success are.  What patterns and strategies have brought you closest to your goals and dreams?