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The 3 Biggest Keys to Success & Happiness (The Things I Wished I Knew When I was 17)

graduation1I was recently asked to do a ‘Commencement Speech’ for an international school in Bali. I thought, that sounds great. Now what the heck is a commencement speech?

It turns out I will have a chance to impart some advice to a number of school leavers and add to their wisdom for the path ahead. Cool stuff! Maybe if I had been all ears when I was 17 I may have passed first year University; not ended up paying that $40 bail after getting selected by a police officer as too drunk to safely walk the streets at midnight; and not ended up in a wheelchair for a few days after doing a back somersault off the bar. Who knows? So what do I wish I had paid more attention to when I was 17? You are about to find out some of the biggies that I will be sharing tomorrow with a younger version of myself.

There is a caveat before I get started: “It is never too late!” Quite often the best time to have done something was a long time ago (maybe decades) and the next best time is now. So if you think there is room for improvement or you are a human being, please read on. 😉

Here are my 3 Key Ingredients to experiencing more happiness and success in life (a couple of things I figure we all want)

Ingredient 1: Find your Passion

Now this is pretty self-explanatory and it is the number 1 key ingredient of the most successful people across all industries and fields of endeavour. The highest achievers are the most passionate about what they do. They love what they do. That old line does apply: they would even do ‘it’ if they were not getting paid. The Bill Gates’, Michael Jordan’s and Mark Zuckerberg’s are a few that spring to mind. The other thing about finding your passion is that it can arrive early or be unearthed later in your life. Some people know it, and some of us stumble into it a little further down the track.

For me, it was two passions that I combined (later in life):

  1. My love of figuring stuff out. Trying to understand the why, so I can most effectively work on the how. I LOVE strategic thinking and planning. So much fun! And yes I am a little weird.
  2. I love making people laugh (and be happy). I used to do this by being a crash test dummy (aka the village idiot) while drinking or being a clown when everyone else was serious.

So in my case this lead to me becoming what I call a Happiness Strategist. Helping people come up a plan to work on the most significant DO’s and DON’Ts for increasing their happiness and success. The biggest return on investment for the least amount of resource expended.

Have you found your passion yet? If not, please feel free to keep looking. 😉

 

Ingredient 2: Choose Meaningful Goals

I think it is pretty clear for all of us that are reading this that having Goals is a good thing and there is enough research to suggest that having goals will increase our probability of achieving them by up to 400%. We need a target to feel content in life. That is a given. However the next level up if we really want to increase our happiness quotient in life, is to not only have goals, but have meaningful goals. Or put another way; goals that are full of meaning. If we are going to aim at a target, we may as well aim for the one that does the most amounts of good. Something that is good for us, good for others, and good for the greater good. This will actually make us happy in every cell of our body.

Remember this: You are special. Very special. Unique in fact. Like none other in the 7 billion people walking the earth. I truly believe we are all gifted with something uniquely us and ours and the right meaningful goal allows us to tap into that amazing spring within us all. The right goal allows us to be and express our authentic uniqueness. The right (meaningful) goal challenges us to show up as the best version of ourselves.

Are you expressing your unique self on the journey to a meaningful goal?

Side note: Just so you know. In the science of happiness, the final attainment of a goal is less important than who you become on the way to achieving your goal. There is a LOT more happiness experienced on the journey – even with all of the challenges along the way – than getting to the final destination. We are just wired that way. Unfortunately we ‘adapt’ to the new result more quickly than we would like.

 

Ingredient 3: Persistence is the winner

Have you ever heard the story about the hare and the turtle? Or was it a tortoise? Just joking! Of course you have. And the more I study and personally experience the more I realise the truth of the fable. The most successful people are the ones that stick at it. That don’t give up. That keep going when the going gets tough. They even lean into the challenges. They realise in the gym if they lift Styrofoam weights, which pose no resistance or challenge, they will not get stronger. They also realise the same about life. It is through the challenges and resistance in life, that they get better and better. They welcome and thank the challenges they face because they know they will never be their best without them.

There is a saying in NLP, which says: ‘There is no such thing as failure, only feedback.’ I also like how Michael Beckwith talks about mis-takes. They are just missed takes. No one expects a movie to be made with a single take. It requires several ‘takes’ to get it right. The same thing with life. Success and and this thing called failure walk hand in hand. The most successful have also made the most mis-takes. Michael Jordan is known as being one of the players who has accumulated the most missed shots. He shoots. He misses. He says ‘so what’ and then gets on with playing the game. So…there is no such thing as failure, only feedback.

Is there any area in your life where you are holding back for ‘fear of failure’? Remember that it does not exist. It is just part of the journey of life. 😉

 

A few other things I wish I had time to say…

I am used to speaking for 8 hrs in a day, so to have only 10 mins to impart the greatest amount of wisdom is a toughie. So here is some other stuff I would have liked to say:

  1. In your quest for success, do not forget to take care of your relationships along the way (with intimate partners, friends, family and colleagues).
  2. Work on honing your instincts. Trust those feelings you have that you cannot intellectually explain. Your subconscious mind is plugged into a super powerful ‘something’ that science has not be able measure and therefore acknowledge.
  3. Know that talent is not fixed or passed to the chosen few. It is honed through passion, focus, persistence and perspiration. You get better at anything you fully apply yourself to.
  4. If you want to be really successful you need to look broad, but then focus your attention, intention and energy. The most successful are usually only really good at one, or at most, a few things.
  5. Be your own person. Don’t live your life through someone else’s lenses. Be it a marketing company wanting you to see things in their way (and buy their product), a ‘news’ station that wants to stimulate your fight or flight response to increase viewer ratings, or someone who wants to live their life through you. Don’t waste all your energy on being someone you are not. Be the same on the inside as the outside and you will rock this thing called life.
  6. If you are not getting called ‘a little weird’ you might not be pushing the boundaries enough. It is the fringe dwellers, stepping outside of the box, that make the biggest difference. So if you are not being called different, then you are not fully being yourself – which is different from the other 7 billion people.

And now…my time is definitely up. Have an awesome day and remember it is never too late to learn, to show up in a bigger way and to get a whole new set of results in this precious thing called life.

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