Remember the children’s story of “The Little Red Hen?” The Hen found a grain of wheat (opportunity) and decided to make bread (success). She then proceeded to take the proper steps to plan and prepare for her desired result. She planted the grain, tended, watered, and harvested it. She took the wheat to the mill to be ground into flour. She made the dough, let it rise, and, finally, put it in the oven to bake. At each step in the process, she asked her neighbors, “who would like to help me . . . ?” And, each time they responded, “Not I!”
Finally, the bread was ready. She set it on the window sill to cool and its sweet scent floated up and down the street. “And now,” she said, “who will help me eat the bread?” All her neighbors responded enthusiastically, “I will!”
“No,” said the little red hen, “I will eat it myself.” And she did.
We may think the hen was rather harsh in not sharing the bread with her friends. But, in reality, no one can give you success. No one can force you to achieve. No one can do the preparation, planning, and the work for you. If we are to achieve true excellence, we must take responsibility for our own success and do the work to make it happen. Here are four steps to help each of us in our quest for success.
Plan – The old saying is still true, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.” No one can effectively achieve an objective that he or she doesn’t have clearly defined. Think things through. Decide what you want, and write out your plan. Only then can you do as Dr. Stephen R. Covey suggests, “begin with the end in mind.”
Prepare – We all know things that we could be doing right now to prepare ourselves to reach our objectives. Study, practice, take a class, exercise, listen to tapes, nurture a relationship, read that book. The important thing is to do something today that will make the path smoother tomorrow.
Perform – David Schwartz made this simple but profound statement, “the only way to start, is to start.” The simple fact is that the best laid plans, the most comprehensive preparation, can still lead to nothing unless we take action. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale observed, “If you put off everything until you’re sure of it, you’ll get nothing done.” Nike has the right idea in their simple slogan, “Do it!”
Persist – Will we have adversity? Yes! Challenges? Of course! The difference between the successful person and the one stalked by failure is not the adversity — we all have that. The difference is your response. Do we regroup and hit it hard again, or do we lie down and quit? Setbacks can be the foundation upon which we build future success or the final excuse for failure — the decision is yours.