YOu Handle it?
What is preventing your success?
What is preventing your success?
by Lena Robin
When you perform an inventory of your successes, failures, and subpar results, what do you see? I see some parts of my life with which I am quite happy. I went back to school and got my MBA. I spent an immense amount of time on my children, being involved with them and their activities, classroom parent, PTA board, Girl Scout Leader, band mom, just to name a few things. The two girls my husband and I raised are on their way to being thriving, productive members of society. They are still working on it, so cross your fingers for me. I’ve written two fairly successful science thrillers. The third book is still in the works. My small business, under the name, Lena Robin Writes, has been a joy for me. I get to assist others’ businesses in their communications, strategies, and marketing plans to help their businesses grow and succeed.
So why am I questioning success, specifically my own? I don’t think I’ve lived up to my potential. I used to revel (hopefully quietly, nobody likes a braggart), in the fact that with minimal effort, I could prevail and prosper. I don’t mind hard work, but I did not need to be outstanding, I just needed to do well enough. One day, I looked back at the arrogance of my underachieving younger self, and I became overwhelmed with sadness. Beyond that emotion, I was vexed. Yes, I said it…vexed. As I’ve matured, and especially watching my own children grow, my mediocre results with minimal effort was not enough. Finally, I saw it. I was not the person I wanted my children to emulate.
What gave me the right to expect more from my children and others than I was willing to undertake myself? Even if my girls wanted to be nothing like me, I wanted to be able to take pride in the example I set for them. I wanted to succeed at a level worthy of the abilities and experiences I had accumulated over the years. I wanted to put in the kind of effort I put in to raising my girls in a manner I could appreciate. I wanted a lot and I did not possess it. So, I began to push myself trying to succeed beyond mediocrity.
Having an epiphany of such great weight is not one that easily emerges in your brain, then you move on with life the next day. No, the revelation was a painful slow process. I experienced many days and weeks of depression and emotional eating. The anger I had at myself was hard to bear. Had I wasted my life thus far? The tumultuous experience of self-revelation only multiplied while I dealt with my mother’s failing health, my (step) father-in law’s battle with cancer, my father-in-law’s life falling apart and my mother-in-law’s debilitating early-onset Alzheimer’s. When my MIL entered a comatose state, she moved in with us. While my husband was at work I took care of her. Did I mention emotional eating? I acted as if I had it all together, but I did not. Anyone have another cookie? I think back on and know that I used all the craziness as an approach to not deal with my disappointment in myself. I love all these people dearly, but was I that devoted? I think not. Life was stressful, yet the people and events that occurred around me had nothing to do with the person I had chosen to be. That person, that disappointment, was all me.
My enlightenment, as turbulent as it was for me internally, was essential to my growth as a person and a writer. However, to really understand the depths of growing into the person I wanted to be, I needed data. I needed goals and to arrive at those goals, I needed understanding.
Over the years I’ve found many reasons why I had not succeed in the way I wanted. Sometimes the timing was not correct for a project to succeed. At other times, I had played fast and loose and taken too many chances…ahh, to be young and dumb. I could go on listing every mistake or shortsighted decision, yet anyone who has ever found success knows chances must be taken. And, there are often failures to build on. The list can go on for days. I matured quite a bit before I had my own children, having them changed the conversation for me. Now, my list or reason for not succeeding is shorter and much more succinct. All the reasons I see for failure and subpar results can be broken down into three categories.
First and foremost, I saw excuses. We all have a million reasons to give up. Every reason is merely an excuse, which takes control. Some days, success seems out of sight. What we want comes slower than we would like, or at least I would like; however, to truly desire a result, delete excuses from your repertoire. The perfect example from my life is my book writing. My books aren’t selling at the rate I’d hoped. Come on, now! I’m supposed to a “Michael Crichton” or “James Rollins” by now. Yes, you should definitely check out, The Andromeda Strain, and “The Seventh Plague” for some hair raising science thrillers. My book, Hour of Trial, is a slow burn. Unknown Hours, picks up speed with a ton of adventure. Final Hours slows back down a bit. Yet, at the time of writing this article, you won’t find Final Hours, BECAUSE I HAVEN’T PUBLISHED IT YET! Oh, I have excuses for not finishing, too. Covid hit and messed with my head. I’ve been too busy to finish final revisions. I need to help my clients with their writing. My office got moldy and I had to move out to have it fixed. And, the excuses could go on, trust me. Did you notice how I let the excuses take over? Excuse, after excuse, after excuse. Do you ever suffer from excuses taking over your will to be successful?
Lack of Preparation
As a marketing and communications strategist, I’ve learned the importance of preparation. The proper business and marketing plan can be the difference between scrambling to catch up and leading the pack. Knowing your business intent and plan, then having measurable goals and a strong strategy to meet those goals, can put you on a road straight to success.
A key part of any strong business plan is a marketing plan and a communications strategy. Establishing your target audience, as well as, how and where you market and communicate your fabulous products or services removes the fickle lady luck. Your success transforms success from a coincidental and fortunate possibility to a decisively well-planned and hard earned accomplishment. Business plans, marketing plans, and communications plans needs to be revised and updated regularly. When was the last time you considered your goals and preparation in relation to your success?
A perfect plan and a ton of hard work, success is assured, correct? Never. That realization can instigate a small pearl of anxiety that can grow into an agonizing paralysis if I let it. Only one reason remains in my categories of what can be preventing your success and mine, fear. Usually, I am overflowing with confidence. I regularly have and do help others succeed and meet their own goals. With my own work? I ended up feeling as if I was a non-entity. Excuse filled and ill-prepare, because I was too afraid.
I had to ask myself, afraid of what? Staring into a void without the ability to move forward? Fear of finishing? Fear of not being good enough? Why are people afraid of success? Well, I felt all the reasons (excuses) and there I sat, as I peeked out hoping that someone or something would come along and pull me from the wreckage of my debilitating fear. What a terrible way to succeed.
Excuses, lack of preparation, and fear are the three principal reasons why success eluded me in the past. Growth as a person, especially when I used to like myself is akin to a rough tumble down a hill. I flitted along, then down I went. Surprise! All the way down I scraped and scratched and broke down my weaknesses. The fall also gathered leaves and dirt and other not so delightful discoveries. Down and down I tumbled, gathering experience and wisdom. Eventually I arrived at the bottom of the hill to a valley of despair and realization. I’ve always been a get and brush myself off type of individual. So, that is what I did.
The short stint of disappointment in myself was also the fuel I needed to figure out how to be a person I could like again, not just an individual I meandered into becoming. I started planning and working toward being the person I saw in my head, the woman I knew I could be for my family but even more, for me. My books and my communications business came into the forefront of my life. Now, I am trying to expand and work on a larger sphere, one where I can affect more of the world around me. I am still working on being that person, the woman my daughters could emulate if they chose. The journey never ceases. However, if I take my lessons and continue to apply them properly, you will be hearing from me again!