I firmly believe that most people want to do better, get better, and live better. We don’t want to settle for less; we just don’t know how to achieve more.
We make New Year’s resolutions. We read books, attend seminars, and listen to self-help podcasts. We spend time dreaming about how things could be. We keep to-do lists. We make commitments and remain hopeful for the future.
The problem is that we don’t really know how to accomplish these things. We don’t know how to reach and sustain a high level of success, happiness, and health. We don’t know how to experience God’s best.
Why is that?
There are many answers to this question, of course. However, the main answer is simple: Most of us don’t understand that success is a process of day-to-day accomplishment.
Success involves putting one foot in front of the other every day, concentrating on reaching small goals that will eventually add up to help you reach your biggest goals.
Why don’t we understand this? Maybe it’s because we live in a day of instant gratification. The world is literally at our fingertips. With the click of a computer mouse, we can order dinner, plan a vacation, run a business, or gamble our lives away. We don’t just have fast-food restaurants; we have entire companies devoted to bringing dinner directly to our door. Hundreds of TV channels are available to us at the touch of a button, not to mention thousands of movies that we can watch instantly.
We’ve been sold a bill of goods. We’ve been led to believe that we can gain knowledge without studying, achieve fitness by taking a pill, and raise well-adjusted children without prudent parenting. We believe we can experience real life by popping in a DVD, develop top-flight organizations through well-articulated mission statements, and build successful businesses with slick advertising campaigns.
This reminds me of a story about a 40-year-old woman who gets hit by a bus, is rushed to the hospital, and dies on the operating table. She meets God and He tells her, “Don’t worry, you’re not going to die right now. I still have a purpose for you, and I’m giving you 40 more years.” Next thing you know, she wakes up in the recovery room, thrilled to be alive.
Later she thinks, “If I have forty more years, I want to make sure I look GREAT.” So after she’s healed from the bus accident, she immediately talks to a plastic surgeon and signs up for all kinds of work—a nip here, a tuck there. Soon, she’s reworked from head to toe. After the surgery, she continues her makeover with a dark tan, a new hairstyle, and a whole new wardrobe. Her makeover complete, she’s walking across the street and—bam!—she gets hit by a bus again, but this time she really dies. Now she’s standing before God, angry, and she says, “God, what happened? You told me I had 40 more years!” And God looks at her and says, “I’m sorry . . . I didn’t recognize you.”
It’s so easy for us to think we’re changing our lives when we change things on the outside. We believe we can get results without putting forth effort, and without the basic ingredients of perseverance, fortitude, and courage. We think that a new job, a new city, a new haircut will make everything better. But real change is an inside job. It starts with our attitude, our efforts, and our energy. It takes intention and action on a daily basis.
But we’re not a society that understands this. It’s not that people don’t have talents and innate abilities; they do. Our problem is that we have lost sight of the basic hands-on how-tos of high achievement. We’ve forgotten that it takes actual work every single day to attain our goals and live the life we dream of.
The key to any kind of success is day-to-day accomplishment.
Everyone has inconsistencies. We all have chasms between our ability and our actual performance. This gap keeps us from a life of achievement and makes us struggle with failure much of the time.
We take our gifts for granted, rather than intentionally developing them each and every day. We might have talents, skills, and intelligence, but we are not actively involved in the process that leads to achievement. We could perform at a high level every day, but we don’t. We choose to settle for less, rather than more.
For decades Sears, Roebuck and Company was a leader in retail and catalog sales. The Sears catalog was so popular that it became an icon in American culture and history. But in the 1990s, when people began shopping on the Internet, Sears was reluctant to let go of this time-tested approach and enter the world of online marketing. Why mess with success?
The problem was, nobody was buying from catalogs anymore. Because of its slowness to adapt and respond to challenges in the new retail environment, Sears lost considerable market share.
To this day Sears has not been able to regain the ground it lost. How simple it would have been for Sears to be on the cutting edge of technology and transfer its entire catalog to the Internet way back when we all first started shopping online.
While some people and organizations respond to challenges and grow beyond them, most utterly fail. They’re still alive, but they are just getting by. They fall short of God’s blessing time after time, yet they were created to be alive, changing, and not settling for less than God’s best!
Based on my experience working with people from all backgrounds, I believe anyone can break past barriers and become successful. Fulfillment is not the exclusive domain of a gifted few but a process of self-development that everyone can use to bring forth the best from themselves and others. It’s a matter of managing every area of life on a daily basis. Success, as they say, is hard by the yard—but a cinch by the inch!
Excerpt taken from I Dare You to Change! by Bil Cornelius
Copyright © 2010 by Bil Cornelius. All rights reserved.