The Three Main Highways to Success
Bill Cottringer

“Knowing how to succeed is the easy part. The hard part is in translating your desire into hard work and maintaining perseverance through inevitable setbacks.” ~ The Author.

If you do a Google search on “success” there are nearly 3 billion sources of information. For those who want to cut to the chase, because time is short, I have simplified matters for you. At the end of the day, there are but three main highways to success. However, in not wanting to oversimplify something that is so popular on Google, I will say that each of these three main highways have a lot of separate paths leading to them, that require exploring.

1. Desire.

The paths leading to the Desire Highway are many. Desire can be instilled by your parents, teachers, friends, or the heroes you read about in books or movies. Or it can come from setting goals and achieving them and then expecting these successful results to continue. An obscure hiding place for desire is in failure. When you embrace failure rather than trying to avoid or run from it, you often find the important clues you have missed before in trying to be successful at something. One thing is for sure and that is desire doesn’t ignite itself like in spontaneous combustion. It can come from inside or outside, but it has to be cultivated and harvested from somewhere.

I think I was born with a great desire for greatness, but it has never materialized as I had earlier dreamed. Maybe age has something to do with the fading of your dreams and desire and the efforts you are able to muster as the means towards this end. Or maybe the older you get, the more of life you accept, and things don’t have to have a high degree of desirability to enjoy and be content with. At any rate, the takeaway from this is to dream big early on and work extra hard to get where you dream of being with much effort and perseverance, always more than you imagine you will need.

The trickiest part of desire is also related to effort and that involves searching for the right perspective to see the object of your desire more clearly and see more alternative ways to achieve it. On the other hand, a wrong perspective about this can lead you down a windy dead-end dirt road, with no recovery signs to help. Success experts say that a balanced perspective, in between extremes, is the best to have because it lets you see the full 180-degrees at one time. And then all you need to do to get the rest of the 360, is turn around. We all pursue happiness with great desire and effort, but can we all define it clearly?

2. Effort.

Nothing much good gets done without a lot of effort. The paths to effort are practice, habit, self-discipline, motivation, and focus. Before any behavior can become a habit, it takes regular practice with self-discipline and strong intrinsic motivation. Like the real estate mantra says—practice, practice, and more practice, makes perfect. Once a habit of effort is established, it can increase both your desire and your ability to persevere past the obstacles in your way. Fortunately, there is useful reciprocity in all these three highways.

A good way to make your efforts payoff is to focus them on doing the right thing, in having the right perspective. The best results usually happen when you do the right thing in the right way, for the right reason and at the right time. An example is to listen carefully what someone is saying or not saying to you and then responding with just the right amount of words to get your thoughts across clearly without any unnecessary confusion. Or you really can’t tell you brain not to think prejudicially, but you certainly can control your mouth from speaking it.

Effort always applies to correcting mistakes. And mistakes always need correcting or they will just come back at you again with more fury and vengeance. The best mistake recovery strategy is to openly own responsibility for making the mistake, implement a quick fix to keep the problem from getting worse, offer a sincere apology and some penitence, and developing a long range plan to prevent the problem from reoccurring. One final point about effort—it takes great effort to forgive others for their mistakes, but such effort always has major payoffs.

3. Perseverance.

I thought my father was unnecessarily hard on me. In the summer he made me mow our own large front and back yard with a push mower and then in the winter I had to shovel up to 2 feet of snow from the 500-foot corner sidewalk that wrapped around our house. This was all before I could go out and make some money do it for other neighbors, in order to pay for my own school clothes. I thought this was a bit harsh and mean, at least until I got to Vietnam and my lesson in perseverance saved my life on more than one occasion.

No one can escape the inevitable adversities and setbacks that occur in life and no one can elude failure forever. Oddly, these are the things that can reinforce your desire and efforts to succeed, as long as you don’t prematurely quit and dismiss the adage of “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Many highly successful individuals first became experts at failing, including Abraham Lincoln, Babe Ruth, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Colonel Sanders and Bill Gates. The list could go on.

The main paths to perseverance are practice, patience, perspective, and resilience. Often, the success you seek is often just around the next corner you are inclined to want to give up on. Of course, there is an important caveat here. It is a smart idea to know the few things you should quit so that you maintain the necessary desire and effort to persevere onward. We have already hit upon perspective some, but here is a valuable foot note. When you plan a small but well-placed and well-timed intervention, you can get big results. What is the right perspective to have about perseverance? It will happen more often than you would like, so learn to be resilient now with the right attitude that gets you back to the right altitude! Here is some concluding advice from Dale Carnegie, a success guru worth listening to:

“The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.” ~Dale Carnegie.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); 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 (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Coming soon: A Cliché a day will keep the Vet Away (Another Dog’s Tale). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067 or