Bill Cottringer

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” ~Winston Churchill.

We are all on a super success quest race with an unfortunate delusion that there are quick cures and instant problem-solving gimmicks to shorten the distance between where we are and where we want to be. Today, the self-growth industry is a billion dollar one right up there with cosmetics and there is no shortage of quick cures and sure strategies for dealing with any and all the obstacles to close this gap between us and our goals. But, the irony of all this which we eventually find out is that the only genuine “short cut” is in discovering the combination lock on our personal success door.

For most of us, finding this right combination on our success lock is a two part process that often takes a lifetime of trial and error learning to understand: (a) learning a general success formula as the common denominator to any success, and (b) learning what particular parts of this general success formula can be applied in our own personal situations to get the best results. This sounds rather obvious, but only to those who have gone through the process of actually doing this—in translating it all from their heads to their hands.

There are two parts of the general success formula that are common to any success, whether the goal is getting “A’s” or being popular in school, having a great marriage or relationship, progressing in a career or being happy in a job, running a business for profit or pleasure, creating a quality art product, or winning in sports. Knowing the truth of these two things and how you can personally apply them in your own ways are the real short cuts you can take to the bank on the way to super success in your life. Here they are:


For a long time we were convinced that physical brain power (IQ) was the main ingredient to the ability part of the formula (knowledge and skills) to achieve success. Then we began to talk about the “capability” part of human potential. This was a main paradigm change that was essential in unleashing creativity for monumental change. And now today, the good news for everyone from current brain research is: It is a personal choice to be a passenger on the bus and let your brain manage you or to get in the driver’s seat and manage your brain with disciplined smart thinking. Closing the gap between knowing, believing and doing this, is a big part of finding and the right combination on the lock to your success door. From there it is a matter of finding and using the right efforts to make the ability out of your capability.


A long time ago an MIT math genius friend of mine, Herb Gross, introduced me to the intriguing engineering concept of “perturbation point.” These were the few critical stress points of a building that could successfully implode a building in on itself. Over the years I expanded the meaning and use of this concept to become the little interventions, which when strategically placed and well-timed, could produce major results. Examples are using a real live event as a teachable moment, newspaper headlines and book titles and smartly applying principles of how life and people work to solve perplexing problems.

Here are 7 “P” points to consider as to how you might apply these “short cuts” in your own way to speed up your super success quest.


Learning the governing principles of how life works can save wasted time in unnecessary failures. But the first principle to learn is that no genuine, long-term success comes about without experiencing a lot of unwanted and unpleasant bruises, broken bones and bleeding that hide the success principles to supper success. The second best principle to learn is below under another “P” Point—Personalities. After that, it is a matter of learning and applying basic character traits that are essential, to some degree or another, in opening your personal combination lock to super success. These include the core virtues of honesty, humility, hope, perseverance, courage, charity, compassion, patience, balance and obedience. If your parents didn’t instill the ones you may need most in your life, then you have to learn them the hard way,


Most often the application of this particular “P” Point involves growing your sensitivity to seeing the point of no return in something before it comes and goes. And as Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “You always get two chances at the really important things in life and so it is very important to know when the second chance is before you.” Another good saying about this comes from Lao Tzu, “In anything, timing is everything.” When you slow down and notice what you have been failing to notice all along, you may stumble upon a perturbation point in your life, where the adoption of one of these “P” points may actually save your life or change it for the better forever.


A very useful principle about perceptions, beliefs and truth affecting the realities we act on to accept, reject or change is this: The certainty of what you see and know, has more to do with the particular place in space and time (where and when) from which you are doing the looking. The quickest and surest way to change realities you don’t like and want to change, is to move your viewpoint so you can get to a different angle and see a different, often more complete version of what you are looking at and seeing. Standing on the very edge of a flat earth will tell you for sure how far you can go without falling off. That is what the world trade travelers found out by doing just that—their new perspective opened the door to an entirely new paradigm of productive world trade and global economy.


“Paradigm shifting” is a very critical mental skill that will most often change a capability into an ability with unparalleled creative energy; but this process doesn’t come easy and it usually involves seeing the bigger picture by acquiring lots of littler scenes that eventually go into seeing the forest from the trees in the complete landscape. A common pathway to facilitate paradigm shifting is seeing how something is really only a half-truth and that there is another half to the rest of Paul Harvey’s story. For inspiration, think about some very valuable paradigm shifts that have changed our landscape for ever—flat world to round world, clock time to digital time, problems to solutions, competition to cooperation, traditional physics to quantum mechanics, manufacturing to information, manual to electrical and so forth.


Most often, achieving super success requires the courage and creative effort to sell the importance and urgency of a very unpopular truth that people desperately need to see and hear but refuse to open their eyes and ears to do so. It is wise to anticipate this likely rejection and to become more flexible in experimenting with ways to apply these “P” points or others that you invent, to overcome this obstacle between you and your passion. Changing other people’s minds about something can be best done by understanding and applying Ken Wilbur’s four criteria for objectively judging the quality value and impact of something:

• Is it truly unique and different from the competition?
• Was it difficult to do, not being easily duplicated?
• Was it delivered in a technically sound media format?
• Was an important and urgent message about a problem and solution clearly communicated?


There is an old saying—“practice makes perfect” which needs a slight course correction. A truer principle to apply in your success quest is, “smarter practice makes better.” This is the best way to translate a capability into an ability to get the best results. Of course the course correction practice that is needed is in shifting any instances of the tail wagging your dog, or your brain, time or circumstances managing you instead of you developing and using smarter thinking to control those things. Have you made the basic choice to manage your brain better to virtually eliminate self-imposed limitations to explode into your full potential, or are you still thinking about doing that?


Most success in anything requires managing good relationships with people. The only sure way to do this is with “likeable” communication. Likeable communication is when you convey critical things to others that give them the sense you are “real” and trustworthy. The communication flavors that best do this are empathy, honesty, spontaneity, agreeableness, positivism, politeness and acceptance. When you communicate with others in these ways, it is what you are not doing that matters most—not communicating the termites that create defensiveness and shut down communication. These are the antithesis of likeability and include insensitivity, dishonesty, manipulation, disagreeability, negativity, rudeness and judgment. These things do not please the brain at all and they remain as an ability, never to realize their capability.

Let me leave you with a story of well-deserved but unfound super success, for inspiration. The story is about “the greatest folk singer and lyricist than never was.” In 1969, I had the great experience in going to what I considered the greatest music event of all times, even Woodstock—the Newport Folk/Jazz Festival. The all-star lineup included legends from the following, but not all- inclusive list: Muddy Waters, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Don McLean, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, John Sebastian, Van Morrison, Led Zeppelin, Joan Baez, Ritchie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, James Taylor, Miles Davis, Janis Joplin, Allman Brothers, Jim Marshall, and Earl Scruggs, However, maybe even the greatest, was not on Stage—Rodriguez aka later known as “Sugar Man.” That was because his only fame was recognized in South Africa and Australia and not America and he remained a virtual unknown until the recent documentary, “Chasing Sugar Man. Maybe there were already just too many stars on the ’69 Newport Folk/Jazz Festival for this great one to get his first chance. At least he didn’t miss his second one!

“Sugar Man you’re the answer that makes my questions disappear.” ~Rodriguez.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the peaceful but invigorating mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden), and “If Pictures Could Talk,” coming soon. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or