In the end, success in life isn’t about who comes up with the best ideas.
Success is about who, in as many moments as possible, chooses brilliantly. Life is about execution, not about concepts. And I say that as a gal who loves concepts.
Knowing the concepts may well help you to make better choices. As Eisenhower is reputed to have said “Plans are useless, but planning is crucial.” No plan ever survived its first encounter with real life, but failing to plan is planning to fail.
That’s why generals understand that usually every campaign falls or rises not on long term strategy or up close tactics but rather on plain old logistics, on having the power to execute your visions. Successful plans must always be deeply grounded in the realistic and the possible, not in the ideal and the desirable.
The only way to make brilliant choices is to learn from the choices you make that were not so brilliant. Understanding failure not as a stopping point but rather as a teaching moment lets you sharpen your understanding, lets you hone your skills.
The only moment we have the power of choice in the world is the moment between stimulus and response. Once we make our choice, the effects from that ripple out into the world beyond our control. The only way we can affect what happens is to choose again, to use the next moment to make another choice that magnifies or modifies our last choice. Choose again.
At the heart of all success in the world is brilliant execution, excellent, precise, considered, professional, polished, wholehearted execution. The better you understand what can be done, the better you get at being able to accomplish your plans, the more success you have.
The mark of an amateur in the world is not starting from am understanding of the real situation and the present resources that exist to execute any plan. It’s easy to sit in a room and blue sky the world, imagining best case scenarios that someone else should make happen to get to your dream goal, but once the rubber hits the road, those plans always sputter out.
Unless you are allocating the resources, unless you are paying for it, it is always the people who actually do the work who shape the results. Telling people what to do, what the ideal result and process should be is just a little fantasy trip unless you are supplying the muscle or the cash. This is a challenge in community engagement where people want control without buy-in, want to tell others the right things to do without contributing the resource to help make it happen.
The minute you zoom into the future you zoom into a world outside of your control. No one riding a surfboard needs to imagine how they will show off to their friends after the ride, because the moment they do that, they lose focus and pretty much ensure that their ride will end with a splash.
What can you do in this moment to head towards a better outcome? Sure, knowing what good outcomes might be is a nice thing, but the choice to be made is now, the next move, the next step, and the responses will not always be what you might expect.
How do you execute with confidence, grace and competency that will leave you proud of your choice right now? How do you be open, aware and humble enough to see the results of that choice and alter your next choice to be more effective?
Mastery is never a theoretical thing. Mastery comes from having a deep enough understanding of the situation and the possibilities to make choices that appear brilliant and instinctive to others. Mastery is the synthesis of lessons, of huge amounts of success and failure, that allow us to be in the moment executing with excellence and humility.
When we are caught up in our own challenges, our own fatigue, pain and scars, it becomes very hard to execute at a high level. We become bound up in our humanity, tripped up by our frailty. We end up choosing to serve unspoken or unhealed needs rather than serving some idealized success. After all, nobody has infinite resource available in this world and any choice for one thing is a choice against something else.
Our choices are shaped by our priorities, which are always present but often not explicit. Because we can no more see our own hearts or minds than we can see the back of our head, one of the only ways to understand what we think and feel is by studying our own choices to determine our deep and hidden priorities.
We succeed at what we value most. That success is always rooted in our choices, defined by the way we execute in each moment of our life. Success isn’t based on how brilliant our ideas are, rather it is shaped by the choices we make. And the choices we make are completely based on what we value enough give attention and effort towards, what we set as priorities for our limited and usually diminishing resources.
Choosing not to be in the moment with our choices but rather to run ahead of them into our own fears and expectations takes away both the power to make better choices that are more effective and the lessons we can learn about ourselves from understanding the choices we do make, understanding why we make them.
Success is about choosing well. Choice is power, and respecting that choice is not always rational or to plan is the only way we can own any control of our own choices.
Because in the end, our life is defined by what we choose to execute on, not on what shoulda, would or coulda been true.