The Achievement Factor

Kevin Hogan

Everyone wants to achieve.

In 2012, the Atlanta Falcons didn’t achieve their goal of winning The Super Bowl but they did have a successful year. The New England Patriots didn’t win the big game either but for the last decade they have been a great success story.

The Baltimore Ravens achieved their goal of winning The Super Bowl.

Success and achievement sound like the same thing but they certainly aren’t always the same thing.

You could argue that of the four teams that made it to the championship games, the teams that had a more successful season (more wins) didn’t advance to The Super Bowl.

You can be very successful at something or some aspect of life and still not achieve the most coveted victory in that part of life or business.

In this series of articles you’ll read about both success and achievement.

We all want to be good at something.
Some of us want to become good at a lot of things.
We all want to be happy and successful.

And by changing a few flawed persistent thoughts that most people hold onto…and making a few steps in the right direction…amazing things can happen.

We begin today by removing some myths and folklore about success so what matters in life becomes clear.

Behavior vs. Intention

Did you ever get a Christmas present didn’t fit? Do you remember seeing that there were no batteries in the gift for the boy and he became frustrated because he couldn’t play with his toy on Christmas morning?

Remember when the food wasn’t quite as good as you wanted it to be for the occasion. Maybe the turkey was a bit dry. But no one cared all that much. Your intention was good.

In areas of kindness and concern, intention goes a long way even if things go wrong. Intentions matter a great deal in life. All things being equal I like to hang around people whose intentions are good.

But intention is just that. It’s part of the “plan.” Most people’s “plans” are really “hopes.” I “hope things work out.”

You and I won’t make the mistake of confusing “I hope” with “here is the The Plan.”

And our intentions will be to do well. Very well.

Achievement begins with intention. Intention happens on day one.

That’s today.

Today it is *very* important.

Tomorrow, today’s intention rarely matters. Tomorrow it was step one in the plan. Tomorrow the intention has mostly become a small element in the success of any project. Tomorrow intention is much smaller and your behavior is much more significant.

Right here, you and I have talked a lot about observing the actual behaviors of people vs. their attitudes or their intentions. We’ve learned to watch what people do vs. what they say.

Positive Mental Attitude?

Is a Positive Mental Attitude the first Achievement Factor? “Attitude” is important in all aspects of life. And there is AN attitude that is one of the achievement factors. Attitudes are important in persuasion and influence. Attitudes matter. But if you were looking at a pie, “a positive attitude” might only make up a small portion of the factors in achievement…and frankly…it might not be in the pie. And if we look at the concept as it is considered by most people, it isn’t in the achievement pie.

You can have a “positive attitude” or a “negative attitude” but the impact of either of those attitudes on achievement will vary from person to person. A lot of people equate a good attitude with a big smile or a happy outlook on life. A sunny disposition.

These are very nice traits for people to have about life but they do nothing to generate most achievements.

Others equate a “good attitude” with a visible face of determination. Then there are those whose “good attitude” is really a focused attitude.

No matter what you think a “positive mental attitude” is, it often becomes an end in itself and that end typically leads to frustration and dissatisfaction. A Positive Mental Attitude can cause the extinction of the outcomes that the person was going to move toward. A lot of attitude related experience on generating success and failure depends on WHEN the PMA was being experienced. I’ll explain more later.

Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is different than a positive mental attitude. Positive thinking is where someone visualizes positive results with the belief they will experience those results.

Positive thinking is about talking to yourself with self-talk like, “I like myself,” “I’m a good person,” “I’m a winner.”

There is a place for this in life.

If someone is despondent then thinking, “I’m a good person,” could be a good thing.

When it comes to achievement the research is pretty clear. In most contexts it doesn’t work and certainly not the way most people wish it would.

The research shows that kids do worse in school, seeking jobs and in athletic perforance when they have visualized success.

Later we’ll get more specific and isolate the important exceptions.

People who think “positively” are more pleasant to hang out with. People who think negatively (as generally perceived by society) tend to achieve. And we’ll go deeper into this later as well. There are exceptions to both generalizations that you want to learn.

The antiquated notions of what caused success and failure were certainly often destructive to achievement. So what DOES cause achievement?

Achievement and Success

Achievement and success are both wrapped up in behavior.

I think of achievement in short term concept. Less than two years.

I think of achievement in terms of specific outcomes.

I think of success as a long term concept. Usually 5-7 years out.

I think of success in terms of more general outcomes.

You don’t have to adopt those frames, just think about them.

I remember watching a guy sit down and playing piano with his fingers moving over the keys like a bird flapping her wings. He just flew. The music was complex and beautiful. You never would have thought this guy a pianist. And he was truly brilliant.

“How the heck do you do that?”

“My Mom used to make me practice an hour every day after school.”

“For how long?”

“From the time I was 4 until I graduated high school.”

“You really wanted to do that?”

“Not at first…not for a long time. But then I did, yes. I started to love it in junior high.”

The same is true for Michael Phelps. It was true for Einstein, Edison, Jobs, Gates, Walton, Curie, Bell, Beethoven, Mozart, The Beatles. It’s the same for everyone who succeeds at anything. They lived many, many days and years with no reward for the reward came later. Success (not achievement) is about duration and excellence.

Behavior precedes Attitude in most cases and behavior tends to generate PASSION for the behavior itself.

Click here to listen to my latest podcast, “Deconstructing Your Sales Presentation Using the 80/20 Rule to Focus on What Matters!”