What does success mean to you – money, happiness, playing that one amazing piece of music, building your dream house? Whatever your personal definition of success, there is a path to get there, and it’s not just hard work.
Think of the metaphors we use for hard work. We put our heads down, our noses to the grindstone, burn the midnight oil. We think of success as the result of grit and determination.
But if you read the “success stories” of great achievers – inventors, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs – you discover that their hard work was just one component of their path to greatness. And you can discern a pattern, certain common ingredients that were necessary for their hard work to get them to the finish line, to the end of the road.
For Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz the yellow brick road was her path to her dream of returning home to Kansas. “Follow the yellow brick road,” the Munchkins told her, and so she did, through fantastic difficulties and dangers.
Dorothy’s yellow brick road journey is an excellent example of six essential elements found behind every achievement. Whether you want to get out of Oz, win an Oscar or knit your first sweater, you need these “bricks” to pave your path to success. Before you read on, I would challenge you to think of one goal, one thing you want to achieve and as you read, consider which of these bricks you already have in place and which you may still need to pave your own path.
The First Success Brick: B is for the Big Idea
What is your big idea? The success of the journey is determined by reaching the destination. Be clear about your destination.
Dorothy wasn’t just leaving Oz or wanting help. She wanted to go home – success was getting back to Kansas and Auntie Em. She wasn’t sure where Oz was in relation to Kansas or how she was going to get to Kansas, but Kansas was where she wanted to go.
You must have absolute clarity around any goal you want to achieve. The steps may be uncertain; the length and difficulties of the journey may not be clear. But know where you want the journey to end.
The Second Success Brick: R is for Resources
Would Dorothy have ever gotten home if she had to do it all by herself? She had resources and she used them: Glinda the Good Witch of the South, the Munchkins, her friends, the Wizard and eventually the ruby slippers.
Resources are available to you no matter what your goal. They may be teachers or coaches, mentors, colleagues or friends. There are books, videos, any kind of help in the real and virtual worlds. Wherever you are trying to go, someone else has been down that road before. Find the one wearing the shirt that says, “Been There, Done That, Got the T Shirt.”
The Third Success Brick: I is for Instant Win
Why save the parade for the end of the journey? Dorothy started her journey with a significant instant win. She arrived in Oz to the cheers of the Munchkins for having liberated them from the threat of the Wicked Witch of the East.
People often cite the lack of motivation as a major obstacle in following their dreams or even getting started. Creating an “instant win,” an easy, quick mini-success is one of the best ways to start to build the drive you need. A little affirmation at the outset and at regular points along your journey can keep you focused and help sustain your momentum.
The Fourth Success Brick: C is for Commitment
Did Dorothy quit when the going got rough? Of course not, and neither will you.
But your success will depend not only on your persistence, but also on the commitment you make in terms of time and energy (and perhaps money). Saying you are committed to your achievement is not enough. Your actions will reveal the actual strength of your commitment.
The Fifth Success Brick: K is for Kindred Spirits
I do not believe we were meant to travel difficult roads alone. You have friends, family, colleagues who will support you in your goal, celebrate your wins with you and lift your spirits when you need it. Make sure that those you gather around you will be positive forces. Who will be your Scarecrow, your Tin Man and your Lion?
The Sixth Success Brick: S is for Spirit
Your success depends on your spirit – the passion and purpose you bring to your goal. Your goal must be of personal significance to you; without a deep investment at the spiritual level, you won’t be able to withstand the challenges along your way.
Your goal can’t be something that seems like a good idea or something that might be fun. It needs to matter; it needs to matter to you.
Remember that Dorothy wasn’t just taking a trip to Kansas. She was going home.