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Taking Control Of Success

Taking Control Of Success

While serving as the Director of Mental Training for the St. Louis Cardinals, Dr. Jason Selk helped the team win their first World Series in over 20 years, and in 2011 he assisted the Cardinals in the historic feat of winning their second World Championship in a six year period. Considered to be one of the nation’s premier performance coaches, Dr. Selk helps numerous well-known professional and Olympic athletes as well as Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 executives and organizations develop the mental toughness necessary for high-level success. In this article for Forbes, Dr. Selk explains the key factor in achieving success:

You’ve heard the expression, “Focus on what you can control.” Good advice. Most of us have a natural tendency to focus directly on results, and unfortunately results are not something we can fully control.

Or are they?

The Key Factor In Success

I recently made an informal study examining the relationship between the amount of effort an athlete puts into practice and preparation and the results he or she achieves in competition. What I found was quite amazing: 80 out of 96 of those interviewed said that the amount of effort invested in practice and preparation was the single most significant factor in controlling success in competition.

This revelation should grab the attention of every business exec and small business owner who has ever felt mystified by a lack of profitability in a competitive market. “Effort invested in preparation is the single most significant factor in controlling success in competition.” That sums it up. The only way to control outcomes is by controlling the process.

Effort Put In Leads To Quality Of Results

To get an idea how effort level in preparation compares with competitive results, I asked these same athletes to answer the following two questions:

On a scale of 1-10 (where 10 is the greatest effort possible and 1 is almost no effort) how much effort have you put in to your practice / preparation this week?
On a scale of 1-10 (where 10 indicates great results and 1 is far less than desired results) how have your results been in competition(s) this week?

I found that 80% of the time, the effort level in practice and preparation was within 2 points of the level of results reported. This tells me that you really can control success–at least 80% of the time anyway–and the best way to do it is to take control of your preparation, something we can all focus on, if we just put in the effort.

Controlling The Process Sets The Stage For Success

Focus on what you can control—what a winning concept! Imagine how this approach can help you achieve success in your business.

Let’s say you’re about to meet a prospective client for the first time. First you would research everything you could get your hands on about their business, history, and people. Then you’d create a presentation that was dynamic, well-rehearsed, and targeted to this potential client. You’d then run your strategy by some trusted colleagues to get their constructive feedback, and even brainstorm some new approaches with them. You’ll also want to get plenty of exercise the day before, and plenty of rest the night before. Leading up to this big meeting, you would also have identified and achieved your daily process goals, three tasks that you have completed each day that make meeting your goal more likely—your goal of landing this client. Get the idea?

Success Isn’t Random

You can achieve the results you want by thinking—over-thinking, even—about all the ways you can prepare for and possibly control your success in business.

Simply put, when you make the commitment to put your best effort into preparing yourself both mentally and physically each day for work—whether it’s an office day or one where you will address a luncheon of a hundred associates—you are doing your best to control results.

Success won’t always take the form that you imagine, but if you can honestly say you are maintaining a level of 9 or 10 on the preparation effort scale, you are placing yourself in the best position to increase your success in the long run.

Get into the habit of defining your success by the level of effort you put into preparation—and you will typically find yourself happier and more successful as a result.

Dr. Jason Selk/Forbes/September, 2014