“Miracles rest not so much upon healing power coming suddenly near us from afar… but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for the moment our eyes can see, and our ears can hear, what has been there around us always.”

— Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop

This is the final article on the four pillars of success. We have defined true success in the following way:

“Success is doing what you said you would do, consistently, with clarity, focus, ease, and grace.”

I call this true success because it looks not so much upon how much you produce. You can be driven to see how much you can do in a short period of time. There’s nothing wrong with that on the face of it. However, how many times have you set goals for yourself that are so big that you drive yourself to exhaustion trying to achieve them?

“Success is doing what you said you would do, consistently, with clarity, focus, ease, and grace.”

Yes, I’m repeating that definition. Is the word “driven” there? No, it isn’t. True success is best characterized by elegance, discernment, refinement, and dignity. “Consistently” ensures that it’s not simply carried out once or twice, but that success… your success… will be repeated over and over and that you, therefore, will never be haunted by regret. Regret that you didn’t live the life you were meant to live. Regret that you missed out on so many sweet moments because you were too busy or preoccupied or exhausted to see that which surrounded you always.

Returning to our fourth pillar: the gateway to grace is gratitude. You can ignite your grateful heart by focusing on what makes you feel glad or thankful about a given situation. In other words, by seeing what is working, rather than what is not working, about any person, place, or thing.

To automatically look for what is working is more difficult than it would seem. Our brains have been developed to look for “danger” before rewards. Our brain… yours and mine… hasn’t changed much in about 100,000 years. Back then, the people who looked for danger before anything else (like food, shelter, a mate) were the ones who tended to live. The people who didn’t look first for the “tiger behind the bushes” were the ones who didn’t survive those dangerous conditions.

So we are descended from the ones that did survive long enough to procreate. Therefore, your brain is naturally suspicious. Asking your brain to spontaneously relax and find things for which to be grateful can seem like a tall order. It is. However, you can train your brain to look for blessings, rather than breakdowns. This is how to do it:

  1. Keep a small notebook by the side of your bed. Each night before you go to sleep, write down three things that happened that day for which you are grateful. That’s it! It could be a beautiful sunset. An email from a friend you haven’t heard from in a long time. The smile on your child’s face when he or she sees you. Something that happened in your staff meeting that day.
  2. Do this for 30 consecutive days. If you miss a day, start over. You want to give your brain 30 days to develop a habit. That’s what it takes.
  3. If you hear your brain trying to talk you out of this… ”This is silly,” “I’m too tired to think of anything for which to be grateful,” or “You can do this tomorrow morning when you’re fresh,” say to your brain: “Duly noted,” or “Thank you for sharing that,” and go ahead and list three things for which you are grateful. It will get easier each day.
  4. Notice if your thinking starts to automatically turn toward being thankful. Is this affecting how you view success? Have you begun to relax a bit more? Are you thinking more creatively about how to solve the everyday problems or obstacles that occur as you work toward completing something?
  5. At the end of 30 days, open your notebook and read what you’ve written. I promise that you’ll find the Hand of Grace in your life.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you! Please let me know if you found this to be useful as you navigate your hero’s journey toward success as a way of life.


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