Is this the end for the Great Mouse? Press play to listen in.
Now that you are familiar with the success equation, Simon’s words
are particularly cogent. Whether your
concern is for your teenager, your significant other, someone you supervise,
your best customer, a friend, or refugees in a third-world country, their
success is not and cannot be your responsibility.
You can and do provide all the opportunities you can, the best output
of which you are capable. You assure they have the best raw materials available
as input to their individual success businesses. That input includes your
good-will, your encouragement, your patience, your persistence. They have the
finest opportunities you are able to put out there for them. How they use those
opportunities to expand and enrich their internal resources is a product of
their attitudes, their determination, their innate abilities, their commitment
to success, their capacity to capitalize on the opportunities at hand. It is
somewhat like the old poem:
You can lead a horse to water,
But you can’t make it drink;
You can lead a fool to knowledge,
But you can’t make him think.
You can do what you can do; but you cannot make it happen. No one can
operate your success business for you; and you cannot do it for anyone else, no
matter how much you at times may wish you could.
Success is always personal.
As you work to provide opportunities for other people to succeed, do
not make promises you cannot keep but do keep the promises you make.
You cannot promise to do whatever it
takes for people to succeed. You can promise to provide those opportunities you
can provide to facilitate their success.
You cannot promise to hang-in-there,
giving it your best effort forever. You can promise to stick with it so long as
they are giving it their best effort.
You cannot promise you will keep trying
whether they make progress or not. You can promise to keep working with them
until they succeed or it becomes clear to you they either will not or cannot
You cannot promise to do someone else’s
success work. You can promise to help them succeed.
Although most people understand and accept these facts of success
life, some do not. They try to make their success your responsibility and their
lack of success your fault. They do not see any other explanations when they do
not succeed. It does not fit into their view of things that success is a
day-by-day process and they are always fully in-charge of their success. They
cannot delegate it to you or to anyone else; and they cannot look to you or to
anyone else as the source of their lack of progress, although they still try to
make someone else their scapegoat. For you, though, the rules are simple:
Do not take on other people’s success
problems as if they were yours.
Do not expect anyone else to take on your
success problems as if they were theirs.
Your lack of success is never someone
Your success is a function of the people who have helped you succeed
and, in turn, of the people you help succeed. It works like this.
Successful people have developed services
lines you link into to expand and enrich your internal resources. Call those
opportunities you link to input .
You in turn mix the input with your
internal resources to develop your services line. Call that through-put .
Your services line, in turn, is success
input for others. Call that output .
Think of the input as the raw materials for your success business. The
through-put is what you add to the value of the input. If the input plus the
through-put does not exceed the value of the input, then you are not adding any
For example, if you spend your life doing only what you learned how to
do in school, you are not adding any value. You are simply taking the input and
using it, as is. If you do most everything exactly the same way you did it last
year, you are not adding any value. If you are only teaching your children the
same things you were taught, you are not adding any value.
Here is the success equation, the formula letting you know whether you
Success = O –
Your success is relative to the opportunities you have had and to how
much you have added to those opportunities. Consider these three people and ask
yourself who is the most successful, using the success equation.
A young woman drops out of school to care
for her disabled father. By the time she is twenty-years-old, she has two
children and the continuing responsibility for her father. She attends classes
at the community college and gets a secretarial job. She now cares for her
father, is taking care of her children, does work with her church, and spends
most days counting her pennies and feeling exhausted.
A young woman from a working-class family
finishes college, using scholarships and part-time work to finance her
education. After college, she works as a social worker and pursues her interest
in becoming a writer. Although she has not had a book published yet, she works
on it daily. For now, she is still living with her parents to save money and
focuses her energy on women’s issues through her writing.
A third young woman from a well-to-do
family graduates from a prestigious law school and is developing a good
practice with a large law firm. Her plan is to make as much money as she can so
she can continue living the good life and financially support and help with
programs for abused children.
Apply the success equation to each woman. Who is the most successful?
Who has added the most value to the opportunities she has had?
Success is not a matter of where you are or how much you have. It is a
matter of how far you have come and how far you plan to go, how much your
output exceeds the value of the input. The extent of your success is only
limited by how much you will add to the opportunities available to you, how
much your success business adds to the success of other people.
As you evaluate the balance sheet for your success business, keep in
mind no one is interested in what you cannot or will not do for them. They are
interested only in what you will do to add to their success. Your success
business must add to its raw materials in ways increasing the value of the
output for other people. It is not a matter of what you think is important.
What actually makes a positive difference for other people is the only valid
measure of your success; so find ways to tell people yes, ways to increase
their success. This is the touch point, the place where you succeed together.
Your success is too important to accommodate anything else. Most
everyone has smaller goals and they even reach them most of the time. For them,
that is enough. Being able to pay the bills, having an adequate place to live,
driving a dependable car, holding down a good job, being able to provide for
their children, and perhaps a yearly vacation is about all they expect of
themselves and is about all they ever have.
Limiting themselves to such timid goals works for them and for others
who are not totally and unequivocally committed to success; but for you and the
rest of the creme de la creme who will never be satisfied with mediocrity, such
mundane goals are hardly worthy of being called goals. They are simply part of
taking care of business while you get on with taking care of your success. You
expect to use your internal resources, your potential to develop a services
line taking you into realms most people can but dream about, if they are even
aware of the possibility.
“But Simon,” you ask, “Where are these realms, how will
I have changed when I get there?” Simon can be your coach but cannot tell
you either where or what those realms are for you. They are your life-changing
goals, not Simon’s; but there are a few truths pointing you in the right
You cannot reach goals you do not have.
You cannot reach someone else’s goals.
Plan on where you are going before you
plan on how to get there.
Goal setting starts with understanding you cannot succeed without them.
Not having success goals is like jumping off a thousand foot cliff into a
raging river without knowing being able to fly is sometimes more important than
being able to swim. You are at a point in your life where you have never been
before and your success lies ahead of you. For most people, there is no real
issue in this. Their plan is to simply keep doing more of what they have been
doing and then retire. For you, though, there is much more at stake.
Your interest goes far beyond merely moving into your future without
too many problems or unforeseen circumstances. You expect to have a lot of
both. You thrive on problems; and if there are not a few big ones on your plate
today, you are losing focus. The challenge of expanding and enhancing your
internal resources and improving your services line is always there, complete
with problems to solve and opportunities to exploit. You are always moving into
new realms and cannot anticipate everything. There are always unforeseen
circumstances requiring all of your concentration and imagination. For you, big
problems and new territory are integral to who you are, to what you do.
You just assume the thousand foot cliff is out there somewhere and you
have to jump off of it sooner or later; and jump off of it you do. In the
meantime, you make sure you know how to swim and how to fly when the
opportunity to jump presents itself to you.
What are your success goals? Nine out of ten people’s response is,
“To be rich, to have a million dollars.” Well, okay. That would certainly
change your life, assuming you do not already have a million or two laying
around; and if that is your success goal, what have you done today to get
yourself further down the million dollar track?
While you are contemplating your next million dollars, take time to
consider other possibilities. For you, being a totally competent parent,
leading a winning team, being sure your community has the highest quality
schools, eliminating hunger, or writing the next best-selling novel may be more
important. How you define success is up to you. They are your success goals,
not someone else’s. Your challenge is to;
Develop a range of success goals, not a
single win/lose success goal,
Set success goals exceeding your reach
but not your vision,
Be clear about what success is for you,
how your life is changed when you succeed,
Be clear about what you need to do and
what you do to succeed,
Be persistent and consistent in your
pursuit of your success.
Simon has some tips you may find helpful. Wherever success lies for
Make something bigger
Enhance its function
Increase its flexibility
Make it more efficient
Make it more distinctive
Make it work differently
Make it more effective
Make it more affordable
Make it more appealing
Make it more convenient
Develop a substitute
Do it faster
Combine it with something
Arrange it differently
“Perspiration is only preparation for your success.” This is a fact
of success life easier to accept in principle than in practice. The problem is
just because you are succeeding does not mean you are enjoying the trip.
Most people associate success with “the good life” or with
“having it made.” For them, people who are successful only work when
they want to work; and when they do work, they only do those things they like
to do. The rest of the time, which is most of the time, they do mostly whatever
they want to do, whenever they want to do it. The principle is being successful
makes it possible to be self-indulgent.
Success is about as far from self-indulgence as winning the
liking to drive. It helps to enjoy a lot of the thousand things you do to
succeed; but it is very unlikely you enjoy them all and equally unlikely you
enjoy even things you do like all of the time. Success is not about having fun;
it is about succeeding. In the long run, this may be the single most important
factor separating you from people who only dream about success.
The dreamers believe enjoying what they do is truly important. You understand
your success is the only thing that matters. The ironic twist is you are having
a lot more fun succeeding than the dreamers are having complaining about what
they have to do in order to have time to do what they like to do. You are
succeeding and by any measure, success is a lot more fun than the alternatives.
There are two additional elements separating you from the dreamers.
First, they save their personal best for those things they think really matter.
Second, they adjust their level of effort to how important they think something
is. The result is most of what they do does not reflect their best work. It is
more enjoyable or at least not as unpleasant for them that way.
For you, though, a different standard operates. Your self-discipline
”If what I am doing does not warrant
my personal best, I am probably doing the wrong thing.”
”I do whatever I am doing as if it
were the most important thing I have ever done.”
You have likely heard the story about the self-made-man.
“I am a self-made-man.”
“It does look like after all these years you would have gotten
better at it. The next time, you may want to consider out-sourcing the
Since you cannot out-source your success, everything you do matters,
nothing you do is unimportant. You are working for you; nothing but your best
effort will ever do. Your success deserves no less than your best, the first
time, on time, every time, with everything, no exceptions, no excuses.
Listen in on a conversation Simon is having with a friend.
how are things? What have you been up to?
not much. I’m retired.
I can’t believe you are retired. You have my most sincere condolences.
you have it all wrong. I am very happy now I am retired.
okay. So what’s happening? What are you up to?
not really up to anything. There is plenty to occupy my time. I am enjoying
doing what I want to do for a change.
Good for you. Tell me about what you want to do.
nothing special. I like to be spontaneous. I don’t want to be tied down with
plans. There is always enough to keep me busy.
see. You are into busy work.
wouldn’t put it quite like that.
There you go. The only problem with not having anything to do right
now is if you do not take charge of your success, the busy work may just last
forever. What it took for you to succeed is not the same as it takes to be
successful. His friend most assuredly succeeded in the past but shows no signs
of being successful as time goes on. He decided to rest on his success; and
that is a shame, given what he could have potentially contributed to the
success chains of other people, e. g., children or young adults who aspire to
be where he has been, the work of his church or the well-being of his
A similar track is followed by people who believe the good job they
did yesterday is still a good job today, the services line they have today
serves their success tomorrow. They do not bother themselves with expanding and
enhancing their internal resources, improving their services line, or marketing
their services to the world. They have it made, they think. They are also the
people who are confused and shocked when there services are no longer needed,
not wanted anymore, when they are dropped out of the success game as excess
baggage not contributing to anyone’s success chain. Life can sure be unfair at
times, can’t it?
Once you have succeeded, more of the same does not make you more
successful. There is a small, new twist here. Suppose your primary service is
resolving disputes. It does not matter whether your special expertise is with
disputes between labor and management, your children, government agencies and
private corporations, or race horses and their jockeys. You are an expert. People
need your services and some even want them.
Further suppose you believe you will be more successful if you provide
more of these services. You have two choices: you can provide more dispute
resolution to the same people or find others who need or want the same service.
Either way, you do more of the same, believing more is better, more makes you
The first approach means you provide more service to the same people,
whether they need it or not. The second approach means you are serving a
broader market with yesterday’s skills, yesterday’s knowledge, yesterday’s
expertise. Whether you provide too much to too few or outdated services to many,
you are not succeeding. You may continue to be successful for a while; but
eventually, people catch on. You may think the person you are serving today is
not the sharpest knife on the rack; but you inevitably find yourself cut off at
the knees one day, wondering what happened, without a clue about when it
happened or why.