Creating and Celebrating a Success Cycle

Creating and Celebrating a Success Cycle

What if you were to consciously practice developing a “success cycle?” No doubt, you have heard of the term “vicious cycle”.  It’s that incredibly frustrating experience of repeating the same patterns over and over with less than desirable outcomes.  It is “vicious” because every time you think you have outsmarted the cycle, somehow there it is again.  It can seem like there is no way out!

The good news is that there is a way out of the grip of the vicious cycle – consciously implement a Success Cycle.

The Success Cycle offered below is a simple, intentional process that can help you get on the path and stay on the path to success. Even your best laid plans are bound to be disrupted by the unexpected. Some disruptions may throw you off track for a day like an illness or an unexpected request from your boss. While others disrupt your entire life in uncontrollable and unpredictable ways like the 2020 pandemic.

By implementing the practices of this Success Cycle you can adapt rather than react no matter what life may throw your way.

The 5 Practices of the Success Cycle

success cycle - 5 in circle
Photographer: Siora Photography | Source: Unsplash

Get Clear 

Clarity is power.  Get clear about what (the outcome) and why (why this outcome is worth pursuing) before you begin ANYTHING.

A few clues that you are not clear in any moment are when you feel overwhelmed or are being indecisive.

Whether it is your day, a meeting, a project, a team or a company, as a leader you need to be clear about what success looks like at every level. Another word for this is to be strategic in everything you do.

Narrow Your Focus

It’s not enough to have clarity though if you want to add velocity to your Success Cycle. You need to narrow your focus to what you can and will accomplish. That’s because satisfying progress requires a sufficient concentration of effort. Spread yourself too thin on a day or over a year, and you will sacrifice your productivity.

Bill Gates wisely pointed out that “We overestimate what we can do in a year, and underestimate what we can do in 10 years.” Apply that principle to a shorter timeframe and consider that we underestimate what we can do in a year, and overestimate what we can do in a day.

That’s why a clue your focus is not narrow enough is when you consistently fail to accomplish your daily to do list.

Also consider that your best laid plans for your day may actually be an off ramp from your success cycle when you continually make a plan and fail to achieve it. Over time this leads to discouragement.

When you find you are having trouble making progress, no matter how hard you work, consider that you may need to narrow your focus even more. In fact, narrowing your focus is a key step in working smarter, not harder. This is why it is such a critical practice in the Success Cycle.

Do the Work

Do the work – the real work that truly matters to accomplishing your goals. Be mindful of confusing activity with actual work. Checking things off your to do list doesn’t not mean you accomplished something that matters.

Clarity and narrowing your focus are practices in the Success Cycle that will help you to make great decisions on what work to do. But you must nonetheless choose what work you will do and then actually do it. Each day ask yourself: what are the most mportant actions I can take to make meaningful and satisfying progress today?

Remember that everything you do is an investment – an investment of time, of energy, and of mindshare. Invest wisely.

Being productive or experiencing flow are indications that you are doing the work that matters. One of my favorite resources on how to choose and do work that matters is “do Do the Work by Steven Pressfield.

Clear Your Mind

Unproductive or self-destructive mental chatter is an impediment to your personal success, just like weeds can be an impediment to an abundant harvest from a garden.  Mental “weeds” include things like thoughts of self-doubt or judgement, worry and fear, or limiting beliefs. You can do every other practice in the Success Cycle expertly, but be derailed by your own mind. This is why you need to discover your own practices for clearing your mind often.

When you notice you are stuck or your motivation is low, consider that it’s time to start tending the garden of your mind. Some of the ways to do this are things like meditation and yoga which are designed to help you quiet your mind. Those things are not for everyone, of course. You may prefer to simply practice redirecting your mind to something other than work such as a hobby or a sport to give your mind a break. Intensely focusing on something you enjoy can quiet your mind and release if from those downward spiraling or repetitive thoughts that could be impeding your progress. Alternatively, you can work with a coach who is skilled in helping you identify the thoughts and ways of thinking that you need to clear, and guide you in clearing you mind.

Keep in mind that clearing your mind is a practice. it is not something you do once, but rather a practice you build into your life and work as a key element of your personal Success Cycle.

Celebrate Often

Being able to see and acknowledge your progress will fuel your motivation to keep going, especially when you need it the most.  Mark your progress periodically by celebrating both your successes and the successes of your team. Take time to acknowledge what you have all accomplished, what you have learned, and how you have grown individually and together throughout the year.

Even with your failures whether big and small there is still much to celebrate. You took action, perhaps even took a risk, and learned something in the process.

The purpose of celebrating as a practice in the Success Cycle is to generate uplifting energy. This positive energy is potent fuel for your success and the success of your team. Celebrating reminds you that the hard work you and others do is worth it.

Also consider that celebration doesn’t have to look like a big party. You can celebrate in simple ways such as sharing a success with someone who cares about you, or sending a note to your team to acknowledge something that went well or was done well.

Finally, celebration is a practice – something you need to do consciously and consistently for it to fuel your success. Instead of waiting for something to celebrate, seek something you can celebrate every week or even every day. This is a lot like the practice of gratitude in that the more you practice celebrating the more things you will see to celebrate.

Success Cycle Practices Are Practices For Effective Leadership

balancing success cycle practices
Photographer: Martin Sanchez | Source: Unsplash

Every practice in this Success Cycle is not only a practice for leading yourself. Put these practices into place with your team and you will elevate your ability to lead others effectively as well.

Here is an example of each how each practice can be applied to leading others.

You provide effective leadership when you…

Get Clear: Provide clarity about purpose and goals for everything you ask of others, and when you actively work to bring clarity when there is confusion.

Narrow Your Focus: Help others to narrow their focus when they are faced with overwhelm or uncertainty.

Do the Work: Make requests for people to do work that clearly matters – to you, to them and to your organization.

Clear Your Mind: Clear the “mind” of your team members and your team by providing a safe environment for talking about difficult, yet highly important topics.

Celebrate Often: Making the effort to routinely celebrate accomplishments, big and small, and appreciate people for their specific contributions.

How will you apply these Success Cycle practices to lead yourself and elevate your leadership of others?

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