I can give you a six-word formula for success: “Think things through – then follow through.” – Edward (Eddie) Rickenbacker
What does that mean?
Success, it means a lot of things to a lot of different people. But the path provided in this quote is fairly universal. Think, then do. Does success mean a Million Bucks? Think, then do. Does success mean a role in a movie? Think, then do.
Thinking comes first, right? Think about where you presently are as well as about your present skills and knowledge. Think about who you have to be to achieve your success as well as the skills and knowledge you need to have to be that person.
Think about how you will get from who you are to who you want to be. Think about a plan to get you from here to there. Think about how you will get from where you are to where you want to be. Think about a plan to get you from here to there.
At this point, you’re ready to follow through. You are ready to do what needs to be done. However, unless it’s a trivial task, you will almost certainly iterate – that is return to thinking when something doesn’t work as expected. And that is to be expected. Just remember to keep at it.
Why is persistence important?
How would your life be different if you tried things once, and gave up if it didn’t work as well as you expected? How often would you have gone on dates? Would you ever have learned to walk, feed yourself, or get dressed? Would you have learned to drive, ride a bicycle or even cross the street?
Fortunately, we tend to be a little more persistent in the things we really want. Whether it’s dating or learning to drive, we keep at it. We think about it, we plan it, we learn from our last experience, and then we do something a little different, and then start all over again.
Persistence, being the opposite of quitting, is what ultimately gets the job done. However you define success, unless you’re lucky on the first try, persistence is what gets you from where you are to where you want to be. Success is an iterative process, defined in the six words of this quote.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Easy successes tend to breed sloppy habits. This six-word formula, while simple in statement, is a very precise and well refined machine. Thinking includes results analysis, problem solving, plan formulating, and a host of other mental exercises.
Thinking, without doing, isn’t going to get much done on it’s own. Sometimes it’s interesting, even enlightening, to engage in pure thought, in examination of self or others, or even the world around us. However, without doing, nothing much has been accomplished. Even typing or writing is a form of doing, to record the thoughts.
Doing, without first thinking, is the stuff of slapstick comedy. That rarely ends well for the people involved, although the onlookers often laugh well at all the silliness going on. I don’t know about you, but unless I tell a joke, I generally don’t want people laughing at me.
By doing both, and repeating, you eventually get somewhere. If you do well with your analysis of your last attempt, solve whatever problems arose, and plan the next attempt well, you stand a chance. If you can then do, and execute the plan, you have at least gathered more data, and hopefully moved a little closer to your ultimate success.
But the road to success is typically long, confusing, and will probably involve getting lost a few times. Those of us with short attention spans have to work to stay focused, to continue doing that which needs to be done to move closer to success.
Persistence is when you give it one more try. Again. And again. Because you can be a quitter, or you can be working toward your next success. There aren’t too many other options, are there? And that’s why we keep after things, doing and trying until we get what we want, or become too frustrated to continue.
But if we want success, we have to remember to think, to do, and to repeat until we get there.