Four Important “Yes, Buts…” About Success to Keep in Mind
Bill Cottringer

“Success is often what is left when you empty your toolbox of the failed solutions that are past their opportunity, but hard to give up.” ~The author.

Two very good cases have been made about our main purpose for being here in life. One comes from the best wisdom of early philosophy, theology, and spirituality and the other comes from the current positive psychology movement. The first says our main purpose is to live a good life by worshiping God and treating our neighbors as ourselves. The second says our purpose is to be genuinely happy. I believe that our primary purpose is really more about growing, learning, and discovering how to be truly successful in what we are doing (in either of these three things or any other ones) and how we are using our life to live out that purpose.

There is certainly no shortage of good information about the topic of success (undoubtedly too much; nearly 400 million hits on Google now), but here are four important “yes, buts…” about success to keep in mind.

1. Our main purpose in the ‘game of life’ is to be successful, but often our whole life is a series of efforts to first define what success is and to secondly discover how to go about being successful, both by the painful trial and error method. Most of the confusion has to do with clarifying what our purpose really is. And then the challenge becomes figuring out how to live out that purpose for the best results, and staying focused on that single priority without getting sidetracked with all the amusing distractions that can easily capture our wandering attention.

2. There is no getting around the practice of defining our own success in comparison with what others achieve, but that “keeping up with the Jones’s chase” seems never ending. And, sooner or later we all have to find our own private, personal definition of what success really looks like in our own back yard. In the end, success, just like happiness, turns out to be what you get from doing what you have to do to get it. Like anything else of great value, we are the only ones who know if we really have it our not; it either is or it isn’t and there really is no in between that somebody else can judge for you.

3. The rules to being successful in this game of life have already been pre-established and a major challenge in life is to discover what these rules are, especially how to do that. Using the right rules in the right way leads to success, and not doing that leads to everything else. It really is that simple, but we can waste a lot of valuable time by trying to invent our own rules with subtraction or addition or waste even more time by not learning from our failures and continuing them. But then again, the way to know what something really is, is to know what it really isn’t first. The road to that path can be long, windy, bumpy and full of dead ends for some of us. And of course our ego pride in being right about all of this, often keeps us from seeing the real truth, in spite of our incorrect and incomplete perceptions, beliefs, thinking and conclusions which we rarely want to confront or admit to.

4. Being positive, optimistic and hopeful about success is crucial in bringing it about with whatever purpose you have or whatever means you are using; but being this way all the time is easier said than done. Often, you have to become more aware of your own thinking and feeling and start catching yourself in the act of thinking and feeling subtle hints of negativity and doubts, which are sabotaging your success efforts. Revising such subtle negativity into more positive energy can be a slow and painful process (just like I am trying to do here!)

Sure, there are degrees of success, but when these four “yes, buts…” are recognized, accepted and put into practice, the shades of doubt begin to dissipate.

Here are four useful tips on how to keep these four important “Yes, buts…” in mind to be more successful:

1. Keep thinking about what it is that you ultimately want from life (asking why until there is nothing for the answer to hide behind), or what you are now doing at hand, until it becomes crystal clear beyond any second-hand agendas. Then ponder upon how successful you are being in knowing what that really is, what progress you are making getting it, and how all that makes you feel.

2. Start weaning yourself away from the popular “bell-curve” mentality of comparison with others and begin to focus on what it takes to make self-improvements to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Be sure and appreciate any gains you make, no matter how small.

3. Think about the value of slowing down and noticing the connection between what you currently think your purpose is, what you are now doing to live it out, and the actual results you are getting—all in a completely open, frank and honest way. Do this with all your thinking and feeling to notice the presence and impact of subtle negativity.

4. Never forget where the potential and opportunities for being successful come from and continually grow your humble appreciation of this ultimate reality that makes everything possible, including this article.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA and also a business and personal success coach, sport psychologist, photographer and writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, The Prosperity Zone, Getting More By Doing Less, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, “P” Point Management, Reality Repair, and Reality Repair Rx coming shortly. He can be contacted with comments or questions at 425 454-5011 or