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From Fit to Stretch: Skills for Creating Success On Your Terms

Copyright (c) 2006-2021

Abraham Maslow once said we long to be "that which we glimpse in our most perfect moments." But, he also pointed out we are often afraid to live up to the potential we see in those moments.

As years pass and we fail to act on what we could be, the glimpses fade.

Instead of filling us with hope, our fantasies of success often trigger doubts, regret, and fear. In the success of others, we recognize our own failed potential.

We wonder, why can't I have the life and work I long for?

Why can't I succeed on my own terms?

Well, if you're willing to try something new, you just might be able to do so.


SUCCEEDING ON YOUR TERMS

Succeeding on your own terms is about creating what matters most to you.

It is, as late folksinger Kate Wolf sang, about finding something you really care about, and living a life that shows it.

But most of us do not know what we really care about. Or, if we do, we do not know how to consciously create it. No one, not our parents, not our teachers, not our bosses, taught us how, because no one taught them how, either.

So, by default, we react and respond to circumstances.

We focus on solving our most pressing problems. We sometimes succeed at things we think we "should" succeed at. But, because we don't know how to bring into being results we truly want, we rarely succeed at what matters most to us.

But, you might ask, what about all the coaching, career planning, consulting, and goal-setting approaches? Can't they help us figure out what matters? Can't they help us achieve the results we want?

Sometime, yes. But more often than not, they don't help as much we would like.


CONVENTIONAL VS. CREATIVE PLANNING:

At its best, conventional career planning is a kind of personal strategic planning.

You assess your resources, note your problems and weaknesses, set "realistic" goals, and then take action. You fit your goals to what you know you can do.

But, even in business, experts tell us this kind of planning doesn't work well.

"As 'strategy' has blossomed," says Harvard business professor Gary Hamel, "the competitiveness of Western companies has withered." Hamel, co-author of Competing for the Future, says fitting goals to resources is a recipe for mediocrity.

So what are we to do?

"Set no small goals," an old saw suggests, "for they lack power to stir our souls."

Successful goal-setters-in business and life-stretch for what matters. They create a "chasm" between their vision and their current reality. Creating stretch between vision and reality, says Hamel, is the single most important task" individuals and companies can undertake.

So, in spite of limited time, resources, and energy, truly successful people set "big hairy audacious goals," and then do what it takes to achieve them. Realistic goals then become strategic stepping stones to success.


FROM CONVENTIONAL TO INVENTIONAL

"Successful creators," says my mentor Robert Fritz, "are sometimes conventional, but more often inventional." They know what they want. They know what they have. And they know how to bridge the gap between the two.

How? Simple, he says, "They make it up!"

Fritz suggest an approach that is driven by vision, rooted in reality, and uses creative tension to energize and guide creative action toward desired results.

VISION: All creators begin with a vision-a clear, compelling picture of a result they want to create. Vision doesn't have to be perfect; it just has to be clear enough that you'd recognize your result if you created it.

You don't have to believe your result is possible, or have all skills or resources when you start. Creating is about learning, experimenting, and inventing what you need to produce what you want to create.

The key is to separate what you want from what you believe possible or realistic. Stretch! Go for what matters to you, regardless of what you have.

CURRENT REALITY: Although successful action is driven by vision, you must root it in an objective and accurate assessment of current reality.

Be honest with yourself about where you are and what you have.

Making things better than they are, or worse, distorts reality and makes your foundation for action less solid. So describe reality, don't judge it! Be objective about what happens to you and about what you have. It'll give you more power.

CREATIVE TENSION: Holding vision and reality in mind simultaneously sets up a useful creative tension, which produces excitement, anticipation, and a desire to act.

Creative tension is the engine of creativity, and the true source of success.

Creative tension forms in the gap between vision and reality. It sets up a magnetic pull-a kind of attraction-between where you are, and where you want to be.

Your challenge is to use creative tension to energize and guide your actions so you move toward desired results. Vision is important, but creative tension generates the real power you need to create what matters to you.

CREATE AND ADJUST: When vision is clear and compelling, and grounded in an objective assessment of current reality, you can use the energy of creative tension to take action, and build bridges to your dreams.

If the conventional works, fine. But if it doesn't, you can experiment, innovate, invent, and create what you need to produce the results you most want to create.

Create and adjust. Learn from mistakes and successes. Start small and create small successes. That builds momentum. Momentum is as important-or more-than motivation, because it keeps you going when motivation wanes.

FOLLOW THROUGH TO COMPLETION: Use momentum to follow through to completion. Celebrate your success, and use the energy of completion to start your next creation.

By crafting clear, compelling visions and grounding them in objective reality, we set up creative tension that energizes our actions and guides us toward the results we most want-and toward who we most want to be.


BECOMING WHAT YOU MOST WANT TO BE

We do not have to fear what we glimpse in our most perfect moments.

And those enticing glimpses do not have to fade. They can become the source of visions that you turn into successful results.

The key to succeeding on your own terms is honoring those glimpses, and then creating your unique bridge from where you are to where you most want to be. If you don't have what you need, make it up; create it.

When you're setting goals, remember: Stretch, don't fit.

Clearly specify and articulate the results you most want. Clarify reality. Then bridge the gap between vision and reality with persistent, creative action.

When I suggest this approach to clients, some are skeptical at first. "It sounds too out there," they say.

But, once they grasp the power of the creating process to produce outstanding results with limited resources, they admit, "Well, the planning I do now doesn't produce the results I really want. Maybe this can help me become what I've always suspected I could be."

In most cases, they're right.


About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
Bruce Elkin is a writer, coach, and consultant who helps individuals and organizations create what matters most-in spite of problems, circumstances, and adversity. His ebook Emotional Mastery: Manage Your Moods and Create What Matters Most-With Whatever Life Gives You is available on his website at: http://www.BruceElkin.com.

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