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Career and leadership tip - Is hard work or luck the secret to success?

04 Nov 2013

When is a seemingly positive belief actually a limiting belief? Many self help gurus and some career and executive coaches might encourage us to believe that life can be easy. Simply think this, do this and be this person and you’ll be as successful and happy as I am. But like all things, this is relative. Yes, maybe we can overcome traumas through a simple Paul McKenna visioning exercise or learn to step up in front of a 1000 people and give a speech but that doesn’t make life easier. But there’s a magic tool in box that will fix all your problems they say. As M Scott Peck states in opening to his book, The Road less Travelled ‘Life is difficult’.  People have come to believe, to crave, an easy passage to riches and happiness. Why else do they watch the X Factor in their millions? What’s being portrayed is a fantasy:

‘Look how easy things can be. Things can be easy and they’ll be easy for me too with a bit of hard work but mainly with luck. I just need to get lucky’.

And very often when the judges and the wonderful pantomime cad Simon Cowell has given a contestant their marching orders the contestant starts to sob, plead:

‘This is my only chance. This is all I ever wanted. Please please please let me through to the next round. I need this. Please!’

What they’re really saying is:

‘I don’t want to have to work hard ever again and when I become a millionaire people will like me and I won’t have to change when I’m rich and famous. I can do what I like when I like.’

The behaviour of many singers is testimony to this. So it follows that by buying a lottery ticket we’re getting something for nothing. Yet the things in life that come easy are not the things we really appreciate. And when we see someone who is handed everything on a plate we may wish them ill.

People admire – and that even includes the Australian press – the rugby player Johnny Wilkinson for his sheer hard work and determination. He’s not naturally talented. He can’t side-step naturally like a Fijian nor could he ever learn to due to his anatomy and he doesn’t have the natural grace of many of the great French players but what he does show is the highest level of self discipline both in his emotional and his physical training. Compare this with an undisciplined yet naturally talented sport star or pop start like Liam Gallagher, someone people like to vilify and take schadenfruduer when they see him laying the gutter (literally) or locked up. People like to know that through hard work they too can excel, and it’s not down to natural, innate talent they either have or they don’t. When we achieve goals that are too easy in the first place we’re left with a feeling of emptiness. Why do Warren Buffet and Richard Branson not retire with their billions? They thrive on challenges and on proving themselves. These challenges are part of their vision and life purpose, which is what our future blog postings will explore.

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