Success

Eyes off the prize. Why having an exit strategy is imperative.

Be Prepared

Setting goals is important.  It’s a great way to see just where we are situated, and where we would like to be headed.  Setting goals helps us to prepare in advance for any potential events or consequences which may be deemed negative to our progression.  In my late teenage years I had the exact opposite view, however.  Plans never work out the way you had planned so what is the point in having one?

In some ways that could be considered right.  There are many factors and elements in life that are  beyond our control, as discussed in the article Focusing on others will only lead to ones own demise (You can’t control the wind, so stop trying).  Although one thing I have re-learned over time, thanks to what could be considered “trial and error”, in real life experience, is that one of the most important things in life is to Be Prepared.

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If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.  I don’t know the original source of this quote, but whoever it was hit the nail on the head.  It’s true that we all want to succeed.  When we start a business venture we want it to be able to meet all of its own running costs, with at least enough surplus to maintain what would be considered our own personal running costs (life expenses such as rent/mortgage, food, electricity etc.)  If you can achieve this, then you are operating a successful business.

But what if it all goes wrong?  What if everything begins to head in the opposite direction?  No matter how fast you run, your tiny little hamster legs just can’t keep that wheel spinning.  What do you do in this case?

Well my answer is:  You should be able to tell me.

What many people do not consider (previously myself included) is that when embarking on any enterprise, whether it be a business, entering into a personal relationship or undertaking a project of any description; You need to have an exit strategy.  

An exit strategy is vital, before you begin.

This is probably the most important element of any endeavour.  You need to know exactly what you are going to do if the worst were ever to happen.  Most people can tell you in immense detail how they will expand their business/company/family/career, in the event of success.  They will tell you how many employees will be working in how many stores that have opened in how many cities in how many states.

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But nobody seems to be able to tell you what they would do if the worst happened and they had to close the doors.  Nobody can tell you what they will do with themselves, if they were to have a relationship breakdown.

My theory is that we do not wish to focus on the potentially negative side of the equation.  I guess it may be borne from our ancient spiritual roots, avoiding the thought so as not to “awaken the spirit” of negative energy and stir it up.  We don’t want to curse ourselves before we begin, so we act as though it’s not there.  After all we need to be confident, and show that we are confident in order for people to have confidence in us.

Tackle your weakness.

This logic, however, is detrimental to the successful operation of any quest.  It’s like a football team (Rugby League is what we call football in my neck of the woods. GIDDY UP COWBOYS 2015 PREMIERS! YEWWWW!), sorry where was I?  It’s like a football team not practicing defense, because they don’t want the opposition to score against them.  It’s like a golfer not wanting to learn how to chip out of the bunker because he/she doesn’t want the ball to go in there.  At any given point, these scenarios, although obviously not ideal, will inevitably occur.  They must be dealt with head on.

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Hopefully this short article has provided you with some insight to the importance of being prepared, planning ahead, and demonstrated how absolutely vital it is to have an exit strategy before you embark on any endeavour in life.  You might not be able to control the wind, but you can control what you will do if it starts to get windy.

Focusing on what others are doing will ultimately lead to ones own demise.

You can’t control the wind, so stop trying.

Reading stories to my child is a mutually beneficial experience.  Some of the underlying lessons within these stories, blended subtly into the general plot, are quite profound.  Some months ago whilst reading a bedtime story I had an epiphany.

It was a classic story about a character (a toy) who lived in a land of toys, and his best friend (whose ears were not small).  They pitched a tent right on the beach, in what they considered to be a prime location.  They were quite enjoying their time when suddenly circumstances changed for the worst.  The wind began to blow a gale, and the tide came in.  What had moments ago been a peaceful splendid occasion had transformed itself into a tragedy.  To say the toy character was upset would be an understatement, and he shouted furiously at the wind to stop.  But it didn’t.  The ocean wasn’t listening to his cries for it to kindly go back to where it had been previously either.

It was at this point that I literally felt an odd sense of discomfort from within begin to emerge.  I realized the character in the tale was wasting his energy shouting at the tide and the wind to stop.  For you see these things are obviously beyond his control.

Trying to control anything other than your own self is an absolute waste of energy.  All associated negativity will only be amplified, and the resulting frustration can lead one into a vicious, self feeding cycle of gloom.

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Self awareness

Awareness

Self awareness, to put it simply, is the practice of being absolutely honest with yourself.  Although simple, it is not necessarily easy, due to the perceived expectations of society and our status within it.  For example an overly emotional person may not wish for others to see them as weak, so they attempt to create a tough exterior, a shield as such, to try and fool people into thinking otherwise.  In reality however the only one being fooled is the one who is holding the shield.

In a professional setting many people act like they know more than they actually do, or imply that they are more important than those around them.  Just as in the previous example this is an attempt to shield their inner self-doubt.  The person in question is “putting on a face” to shield their own insecurity.

Nobody is perfect.  If you can be honest with yourself then you are practicing self awareness.  From this angle it is much easier to notice when you make a mistake, and stop yourself before you follow through.

Whilst this is a great place to exist it brings about its own complications.

A new cycle

So you are at the point of being entirely honest with yourself.  You understand your flaws and are working towards repairing them when you notice them arise.  That is great!  You probably feel a sense of pride, which you absolutely should, because self awareness, as previously noted, is not easy.

However when one begins the journey of improving themselves via self awareness, it is at this point the entire thing can be turned upside down.  When you notice improvement within yourself, it becomes a lot easier to see the faults in others.  You begin to notice the shields everyone is holding up to hide their insecurities.  You notice their body language (something they are not even aware of).

This can give one a false sense of superiority and begin the entire downward spiral all over again, however this time around it is much more difficult to negotiate.

You’re aware of yourself now, why is all this bad stuff happening?  That other guy at the office obviously isn’t aware of himself, why is his life so great?  See where this is going?

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Don’t compare yourself to others.

Self comparison is something that must be avoided.  If you notice yourself doing it, stop immediately and remind yourself this is your journey, not theirs.

The only thing you can control is yourself.

So do it.  Take control of yourself.  Be the person in the drivers seat of the vehicle that is your life.  Don’t compare yourself to other people and don’t blame anyone else for your problems.  You’re driving!

The subjects discussed in this article are merely a gentle rub on the surface of a massive issue.  The reality of modern life can be overwhelming and make implementing good practices difficult.  That is what makes it fun though.

I often think back to that children’s book when I am placed in a difficult situation.  Telling myself “You can’t control the wind”.   Then I smile and carry on.

Thanks for reading.

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