The Journey to Success

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Some people seem to be born with an innate sense of what they want to achieve in life, or they become aware of it when they are young. In many ways, they are very fortunate because with their destiny in mind, they have effectively already taken the first step towards success i.e. finding their own vocation or calling – their life-purpose. So they can go straight to the next step which, of course, is planning the route.

It seems that many successful people had this inner knowledge early on in life. As an example, consider the story of Ian Callum which was the subject of a short BBC film. From the age of just three years old, he says, he knew he wanted to design things, and as he got a little older, he realised it was cars that he wanted to design. At fourteen years old, he wrote a letter to the head of design at Jaguar Cars. He got a reply that provided advice on how to become a designer. It recommended subjects he would need to study and qualifications he should obtain. So he allowed that advice to become his blueprint for success, and eventually, he actually managed to become the head of design at Jaguar Cars.

Ian's is an amazing story that shows how really successful people often have that sense of vocation very early in life, and it is by no means an isolated example of the phenomenon. As a child, I remember watching the 1963 F.A. Cup Final between Manchester United and Leicester City, which United won by three goals to one. During the game, the commentator, Kenneth Wolstenholme, mentioned something that had been written on the Manchester United winger, David Herd's school report by his Headmaster.

"David will never earn a living playing football."

Not only did David Herd prove his Headmaster to be completely wrong, he actually scored two of the three goals that won the cup for United that day.

Here's another example.

As with many successful bands, it began with two kids playing guitar together as often as they possibly could. On one occasion, just before they were about to sit their final exams, the two youngsters were found playing guitar at school, when they were supposed to have been studying.

The teacher angrily admonished them, "if you two don't start getting your act together, you are going to be in dire straits!" It turned out that they thought that would be a good name for their new band – you might have heard of them.

For people who never had that degree of clarity or perhaps, simply had no idea what they wanted to do with their lives at the beginning of their journey, the route to success is usually more circuitous. But such people can still manage to find success once they have identified their life-purpose.

Here are a few examples of people who took a little time to discover their true passion:

Leonard Cohen struggled as a folk performer until he made the decision to start performing his own songs. After releasing his first album The Songs of Leonard Cohen, when he was 30, his career took off.

Andrea Bocelli graduated from law school at the age of 30 and took a job as an attorney. After a year, he gave it up to pursue his love of singing. Three years later, he found outstanding success.

Vera Wang was a professional figure skater who competed twice at the US National Championships. She changed direction and went on to work at Vogue. Within a year, at the age of 23, she became the youngest ever senior fashion editor at the magazine.

There are many other people who 'found their voice' much later in life. But having that vision - that clarity of purpose - is the real starting point. If you don't have absolute clarity about what you want to achieve, it does not mean that you won't ever develop it. However, if you want to be successful, your first priority should be to identify your own life-purpose.

Once you understand who you are and why you are here, you can move on to the next part of the journey which involves planning your mission and setting the goals that will take you there. These goals are not just plucked out of the air; they are specific steps that will take you to where you want to be.

As your journey to success progresses, you will need to internalise the seven keys we have discussed. To internalise means to make these principles a part of yourself and you do that by practice.

It is only after you have identified your life-purpose, that you can possibly commit yourself to achieving it. But that step alone will make such a big difference to your life. After that you can apply the qualities of persistence, flexibility and passion to the creation and execution of your plan, whilst developing a winning attitude that embraces receptiveness (open-mindedness), faith and thankfulness (gratitude).

One of the most interesting insights into success and what it means can come about by actually meeting some highly successful people. Successful people, we discover, are more like ourselves than we might have at first imagined. They had an ambitious dream, they were filled with self-doubt and they suffered failure. But they applied the seven principles we have been discussing to develop their fundamental character and become winners.

There is nothing more certain than the truth that you will achieve your dream if you first allow yourself to dream it and then, apply the principles that are outlined in this little book.

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