Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Secret Element for Success

Devils Tower in WyomingWhile traveling through WY, I stopped at the first US National Monument, the Devil’s Tower.

Some of you may remember this artifact from Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind with Richard Dreyfuss.

There are a number of trails in the area, one of them encircling the base of the Tower.

While hiking around this trail, I came across several climbers scaling the side of the Tower.

As I looked up, an old worn phrase came to mind: “It’s lonely at the top.”

In the past, I’ve always taken this to mean that to get to the top, you had to sacrifice your relationships, be ruthless and step on the bodies left in the wake of your quest to be successful.

In short no lasting friendships. Only shallow relationships and business acquaintances.

After looking at these climbers as they scaled to the top, I had a different view of this phrase, effectively reframing it to mean something new.

These climbers weren’t mavericks or cowboys. They didn’t try to do it on their own, go it alone, or step on each other on the way up.

They helped one another.

At any given time, the person doing the climbing had someone at the bottom giving encouragement and feeding the line, and someone at the top, giving encouragement and holding the line, both giving support in every sense of the word.

The climb to the top requires a personal vision and commitment, something that only you can provide.But the climber ultimately had to make the climb themselves. No one was going to pull them up, no one was going to get under the climber and push them up. Their team could provide assistance, support and encouragement, but ultimately, the individual had to make their own effort.

I doubt that any of them said, “Well, I really would like to get to the top, but I’m kind of tired and out of shape. Why don’t you guys pull me up?” And I seriously doubt that any one of them got halfway up and said, “OK. I’m kind of tired now. I have had enough. I want to go home now.”

Reaching the top and being successful has less to do with stepping on bodies and destroying relationships and more with a personal vision and a strong commitment to reaching your goal. Those climbers were getting to the top because they wanted it. They owned it.

Yet, on any given night, you can find at least 10 infomercials on TV that expound on systems for getting rich or losing weight. Just follow these steps, do what everyone else has done and you can be richer than Trump with a body like Schwarzenegger.

Sounds simple enough. And that is why many people will buy these programs. They are looking for a quick fix or a magic bullet to make success easy. They will go through the motions of the program with no passion or commitment. And when they fail to produce the desired results using the program, they shelve the DVDs, use the exercise equipment to hold clothes, and state that the system is nothing but a gimmick.

The reason it’s lonely at the top? It is lonely at the top because many people have not taken the time to decide what they want, create a vision for their life and devise a plan on how to get to that point.

If you really want to be successful, sit down one Saturday morning and write down all of the things that are really important in your life and create a vision for your life that encompasses those things.

Many people can make suggestions and offer their help. And some will even try to tell you what you should be doing with your life and what you need to do to be successful.

But the only person who can decide what you want for your life, is you. Might as well get started. Looks like it can be a long climb up to the top.

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