Steps To Success: Working Harder and Smarter

Newspaper reports, including the OBSERVER, have highlighted that a strong economic growth period is in place. Our economy created more than 308,000 new jobs in March, the largest monthly increase since April 2000; and in the first quarter of this year, 513,000 new job were created. At this pace, roughly 2 million new jobs could appear in 2004. This is a significant indicator that the health of the economy is on the rebound. Most significant is that with job growth, there is a record productivity growth. Productivity is key to increasing overall wealth because it allows more production with fewer resources being consumed. These facts point to a healthy trend as more enter the job force and strive to be successful in their undertaking. Within the next two months, school graduates will also be eager to join the job force. And it is to this very subject we wish to address in this column.

When one enters the job force or moves up within the employment structure, one hopes to be successful. However, one also may encounter some self-doubting moments and a feeling of frustration. Nevertheless, one can discover success even in a momentary discouragement. And, we wish to address that point in this week's column.

Success at work, school, recreation or wherever is important at whatever age level and at whatever capacity. But, being the realist we are, we know that success is not a gift; it is earned and usually the hard way. All of us know the joy of success but we need to appreciate the value of disappointment when it happens. Everyone knows that success and failure are two sides of the same coin. We are living at a time, where an instant concoction, ready mix recipes and "fast food" methodology is the word of the day. Immediate positive results are the objective. Often, we become uneasy when the "instant" result is a "waiting" result and the "negatives" seems to overshadow the "positives." There are some that look for the "instant" result and wish to start at the top. They may even feel that they have failed if it is required that they must work their way to get there. Often, it is the patient "doers" who are the more abundant long-term "achievers."

In a desire to overcome the potentially destructive effects of negative thinking, we often forget the important lessons that one can learn from disappointment or failure. This is particularly evident at work, school, recreation, or in other settings involving others. When failure occurs, little time is spent in productive analysis of past events, activities and actions. Finger pointing, playing the blame game, and claiming past successes is just not productive. Lest we forget, it is not only the end results that count, but also the road that was taken to get to that point is of substantial value.

Failure, demoralizing as it is, can be a great teacher. Success, particularly if it comes without much effort or little ingenuity on one's part, does little good. Rarely are lessons learned as thoroughly as those lessons we learn from failure. Failing is both sobering and enlightening and after the immediate discouragement has passed the key is to see it as a step toward ultimate success.

Every success story from the corporate boardroom, to the classroom, to the athletic field is filled with examples of discouraging failure, missteps and just plain errors along the way. Trying to avoid mistakes is nowhere near as reasonable as trying to avoid making the same mistake a second time. All of us have heard on occasion, "good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from errors in judgment." Every time a bad event in history repeats itself the price for that mistake goes up. By not learning from our mistakes and the mistakes of others, we doom ourselves to traveling a difficult and unnecessary possible road.

Absolute certainty in most things is close to impossible. Rather than trying to avoid the unknown, one should seek to appreciate it. Keeping your curiosity and interest wide open helps one to appreciate and embrace new opportunities. As tempting as it may be to build walls to protect oneself, being vulnerable does not mean emotionally defenseless or at the mercy of others. If you can guard and value your vulnerability, it will help you listen and be sensitive to one's own and other people's vulnerabilities. Success is achieved through a series of baby steps; you take your first step, then another and another, learning as you go. This is true in employment, in school, in recreation and even in social relationships.

Working harder and smarter in whatever your endeavor is not be to undervalued by dwelling on negative experiences. Looking ahead and moving beyond bad experiences has its place and we can learn much from that. We know; we have been there. It is all a part of the growth pattern and, in the long run, we are richer because of it. And that is the way we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.