March 16 – Determination to succeed

“The only difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is extraordinary determination.” (Mary Kay Ash)

Some years ago I read a book called Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman. In that book, Goleman makes the point that whether a person is successful in life is far less dependent on their Intelligence Quotient (IQ), and far more dependent on their Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence attempts to get at how things like Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Social Skill, Empathy and Motivation come together to determine how successful a person will be, and whether they will rise up as leaders. I found this to be a very enlightening book, and have read a couple of his works since.

Today’s quote by Mary Kay Ash (the late founder of Mary Kay cosmetics), supports the ideas in Goleman’s work. A person does not have to have extraordinary talents to be successful. If that were the case, there would be far fewer successful people in almost any field. What matters is the individual’s ability to channel their focused effort, their extraordinary determination, to become successful.

Mary Kay uses these concepts to encourage women to become empowered, and to grow their sales capabilities while increasing their self-confidence. To be a successful Mary Kay representative, and earn one of those pink Cadillacs, does not take extraordinary talent for sales. Rather, it takes the determination to be constantly improving and growing, and working hard at the field.

In my own life I see this played out as well. There have been many things I have undertaken successfully, and many that have not turned out as well. Reflecting on them I can see that it was my determination, and not my natural talent, that made the difference.

One example for me was the building of shelves in my garage. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a handyman. I never really had the opportunity to learn how to use power tools, or how to create things out of wood. My first attempt in my life to create a knickknack shelf ended up looking more like a teeter totter than something on which to put valuables.

About 15 years ago (maybe more), I decided that to better organize my garage I needed some shelves. This was in the days before I could just use Google to find plans and examples, so I had a couple of conversations with friends, and decided on a fairly basic design. Not being a master carpenter, I kept things simple. I used basic materials, and some knowledge of how to strengthen shelves by stiffening them. I ended up building a set of shelves that went down the entire length of the side of my garage. They aren’t anything I would put on Pinterest, but they are functional and sturdy.

I succeeded in building them because I was determined to do a good job, and to overcome my limitations.

On the flip side, I tried my hand at selling my photography at art shows a few years back. I assembled a set of pictures that I thought were really exceptional. I had prints of them made, matted them, and framed some. I applied to, and was accepted at a local art fair. When the time came I had plenty of product, and I opened up shop. I was excited to start! The morning of the show I couldn’t sleep and arrived hours early to put the finishing touches on my display. When the show opened, I sat behind my booth and waited….and waited….and waited. As the hours wore on I watched hundreds of people walk past my booth without coming in.  Many of them were carrying things they had purchased at other booths along the way, but no one bought from me. I went the entire 10 hours of the first day of the show and made not one single sale. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

I finished the show, and sold a couple of hundred dollars worth of product – less than it cost me in my entry fee, let alone my material costs. I continued at some smaller shows in the fall, with similar results.

When the holidays arrived that year I shut things down. I still have hundreds of prints of flowers, lighthouses and landscapes (if you are looking for something for your home, contact me! I a more than willing to let you have your pick).

There are many reasons I can point to that would explain the failure. It was a down economy, photography wasn’t selling well at art shows, I picked the wrong media on which to print the pictures, and so on. But honestly all of those could have been overcome. What I lacked was the determination to suffer through the initial failure and come out the other side with more knowledge and a better chance at success.

I know for me personally that determination plays a key role in predicting my success. As I am embarking on my journey toward better health, I know that whether I stay focused and determined will matter far more than which weight loss program I choose, whether I have the right gym shoes, or what restaurants I frequent.

Mary Kay Ash has it right, it is determination to succeed that is far more important than just raw talent.

This entry was posted in Personal Reflections, Reflection 365 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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