Goals, Opportunities For Success and Paying Our Dues

What are the paths that come together to provide opportunities for success? How will we know when they come together? Will we be ready to recognize opportunity and act to succeed? What can we do to prepare for those opportunities? What does paying our dues really mean?

Here’s a big part of the answer:

“It has been written that so much of life is preparation, so much is routine, and so much is retrospect that the purest essence of anyone’s genius contracts itself into a precious few hours.”

That quote is from “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors” by James D Hornfischer. A book about the heroism of the small ships – destroyers and destroyer escorts – in the Battle of the Samar Sea in World War II. It’s a true story of heroism, duty and honor. It’s also a story of paying dues.

I hadn’t thought about success in those terms, but so much of that quote speaks to success – in all parts of our lives. We all go through preparation, routine, and learning from our experiences and then, in a relatively small space of time, all that we are – our particular genius – comes together to contribute to our success. And, based on our willingness to seek out and accept opportunities, it happens again and again – and every time, the possibility of success is greater – based on the increase in our particular genius.

In sales, think of all the cold calls, all the presentations, all the demonstrations, all the lead chasing, and then, the opportunity to make a sale – and all the work done comes together to make that sale – or not. In either case, that event becomes preparation for the next opportunity, with a better chance of success – particular genius made good – made better. Dues paid.

In project teams, think of all the meetings, commitments, research, experiments, communications, proposals and presentations – and then the outcome that the particular genius of the team has created results in the successful completion of the project – and the seeds of particular genius increase for further success. Dues paid.

In people selection, think of all the recruiting approaches, process improvements, all the interviews, interview training and assessments, and then, the particular genius that results in the acquisition of the people needed to be successful. Dues paid.

In entertainment, think of a favorite singer or musical group – then think of all the rehearsal, all the one night gigs, all the travel, all the No’s, that came before the hit song – the particular genius created by all those steps, and then success. Dues paid.

The story is told of Picasso sitting at an outdoor cafe’ and being approached by a woman who asked him if he could draw a sketch of her. He did. It took five minutes. She asked how much she owed him. He told her $5000. Shocked, she protested it had only taken him five minutes. He corrected her – it had taken him 30 years to reach this place in his life as a painter. Dues paid.

How do we develop particular our genius – and pay the dues doing it?

We need to start with the end in mind – know where we want to go.

Get a dream, envision success, set goals, and then identify those things that will point us to our goals – in terms of preparation, learning from experience, taking care of the day to days – but always with the end in mind. Pointing our particular genius at what is important to us – and then focusing on that worthy goal. Doing that – keeping that focus – paying dues – creates success. Not doing that let’s genius disperse over too many unimportant things – and causes it to disappear in a flurry of busyness.

When our goals tell us that opportunity is in front of us- when our intuition has been honed by challenges and risks; by decisions made and their outcomes; by routine; by experience and preparation and by looking back as well as forward; then our particular genius puts us into action, and we succeed.

We succeed because we pay our dues to meet our goals – and in doing that we expand our particular genius. And paying them has nothing to do with how long we have lived, or how long we have been in a job, or how much seniority or time in grade we have. It has to do with focus on the important few, and placing proper value on the unimportant many.

Start today – check your own goals and how you use the routines, the preparation and opportunities in your own life. Check to see if what you do drives you toward the further development of your particular genius. Know that within you resides a genius unique to you. Bring it out – do it with goals, with preparation, and retrospect and routines – so that, when those opportunities occur, the outcome of your actions is success.