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Essay # 2: My Five Basic Skills For Success in 2021 and Into the Future

Updated: 3 days ago

Success Series

Why are there so many books and experts on success, when the basic principles of success are what we use every day?

Summary: We think of success as a goal on a much larger scale than our normal activities. But it's really a matter of your perceptions and practices. In pursuit of my own recent goals, I identified, and relearned, the five fundamental concepts to achieving success. They all seem obvious, some are misunderstood, all are connected, and all are under your control. You have to learn to recognize, prioritize, and manage the fundamentals of success.

I found my five basic skills for success:

#5. A Realistic Goal

#4. Do the Work

#3. Recognize, Adopt, and Adapt

#2. Success Is a Continuous Effort, Not a One-Time Event

#1. Control Your Psychology, Self-Talk. Sustain Your Confidence, Beliefs, Positivity

But before we get into the these five basic skills, we should first discuss what success represents.

Humans have a natural capacity to make a lot of simple things overly complex. And if you want to make a business out of a simple idea, it seems you have to make it more complex, require a long time to complete, and often make it expensive.

I believe it's time to simplify and modernize the fundamental ideas for how to achieve what we describe as "success."

These basic skills have been known for a very long time but have suffered from too many add-ons, hype, lack of education, and practical applications.


What is success?

We all think we know what success means, but I’ll clarify my interpretation. First, we all succeed every day in many things — family responsibilities, jobs, education, good deeds, hobbies, and small successes from completing a work assignment to getting a reservation at a restaurant.

Life works because it's based on continuous, often modest, successes.

But in the "success" world, success is typically associated with achieving a goal on a larger scale than in our normal routine. Success is associated with ambition, dreams, the future, all of which will take months or years to achieve. Success will bring emotional, intellectual, or material rewards. I want to get a college degree, I want a promotion, I want to get rich, I want to lose weight, I want to be a star athlete or entertainer, etc.

Success is based on overcoming the inherent human negativity bias – fears about things that are new, different, bigger, require new resources. The unknowns create the success syndrome: How did others achieve success? How can I achieve it?

Success Helpers?

Success is a big business. Books, seminars, advice, coaching and consulting keep selling more every year. There are anecdotes, workbooks, case histories, academic courses, all offering the "how-to" achieve success.

I started my research believing that buried in the endless success literature were useful and practical truths, but they were lost in information overload and noise. I love information, but there was too much for me.

I wanted what might be called a universal theory of manifestation and positivity. I needed to understand what to do, how to do it, with concepts that were believable, and be able to measure my progress.

I've adapted practical ideas from the conventional success advice in my three part manifest success research analysis:

(Existing practical knowledge) + (reassessment of people I've known and in public life) + (applying a manifest success formula to my goals) = A Manifest Success Concept.

Be careful — success is just a word; it's not necessarily your friend.

  • There is no judgment or morality that affect success: We generally think of success as an achievement with a positive or beneficial outcome, at least at the personal level. But in practice, and throughout history, success has been achieved for harmful and truly evil goals. Dictators, criminals, and just bad people are successful in achieving goals that are harmful to others.

  • Success is nonjudgmental: Fortunately, our human and societal nature is that most success goals are at least benign, and many are beneficial and for the greater good. For my observations, I am talking about personal success goals that are usually beneficial for ourselves, our families, and how we want to live.

  • Achieving success vs. a successful life: Achieving success for a specific goal does not guarantee that a person is always successful in everything that they do. Some fortunate people can extend their success practices into other aspects of their life. And many people achieve extraordinary success for one goal and then fail, sometimes fatally, in other aspects of their life. We all wonder why "successful" celebrities can't be happy with what they have — and die from suicide, overdoses, have broken families, and other damaging behavior. Two people come to mind about flawed success: Anthony Bourdain and Bruce Springsteen.

    • Anthony Bourdain achieved his success as a celebrated, glamorous, and adventurous food/travel celebrity. And yet, whatever demons he had killed him. One of his colleagues was astonished — he said what so many people thought — "we all thought we wanted to be Anthony Bourdain."

    • Bruce Springsteen — Bruce! One of the most accomplished and successful entertainers in modern history. Over the last few years, he has revealed his lifelong battle with depression and insecurity and the darker aspects of his thinking. I've wondered how an acclaimed, generally beloved entertainer, with homes across the country, still in control of his talents, worth $500 million+, can still talk about being unhappy. We know that psychological and emotional damage can stay with people throughout their lives. But we also see that some people have the ability to overcome and control the negative aspects of their life that could defeat their successes.


The Five Fundamental Skills For Achieving Success

#5. A Realistic Goal

It seems obvious, but often our ambitions really are beyond the probability of success.

"All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do." —Norman Vincent Peale

Setting a goal is often difficult because it requires you to make a decision, and a commitment, without complete knowledge of what will be required to achieve the goal.

Let's get one anecdotal concept out of the way. Yes, there are people who, as a child, wanted to be a pilot, a doctor, an athlete or a teacher, and that became their driving force going forward, and they succeeded. This type of success does happen; that's why we have our category of "successful people." Does every person who has a youthful ambition to be a pilot achieve their goal? Of course not. We all succeed at some things, but we don't all succeed at everything we want to achieve.

“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible." —Orison Swett Marden

In my context of common denominators, the challenge is to set a realistic goal

I believe more people could achieve their goal if they learned the nature of a practical success process. Every success role model is an inspiration, and a person should not automatically reject pursuing a goal that seems impossible until they do a realistic check.

Realistic means practical considerations

I loved basketball in high school, but at 5'10", I was never going to be an NBA forward or center. As I write this, I'm 76. I would like to be a medical doctor, but that's not going to happen. Although theoretically impossible things do happen, you have to be realistic considering your physical capabilities and resources. I'm working on my practical, realistic goals — and even what might seem unlikely is not totally impossible.

My current realistic goal: Successfully market my Manifest Positivity Program, sell a few thousand copies a year, maybe an app– I will consider that a great success.

My highly unlikely but not totally impossible goal: I want to be worth $100 million. In the next 12 months, my Manifestation Formula Program will be recognized as the best positivity technique for psychological and emotional management of thoughts, choices, and behavior. I'll get publicity, millions of users, go viral, etc., and sell the program to Google. This scenario is not likely, and the probability is low, but it could happen even at my age and with my resources.

The small successes are the path to the big one. On my way to the sale to Google, I first have to become a best seller.

Realistic means: Do you have the interest and desire, the physical capability, access to the necessary resources and time required to pursue your goal?

#4. Do the Work

You have to do the work. But work alone is not the predictor of success. My advice: don't focus on the number of hours you need to achieve working your goal, whether it's developing a new business or developing a fitness routine. Focus on making and measuring progress, making corrections as needed- that's the way to reach a goal.

"The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary." -- Vidal Sassoon
"I think goals should never be easy, they should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time." —Michael Phelps

Doing the actual work, whether physical, intellectual, social, creative, is mandatory to pursue a goal. I don't believe in magic or prayers being answered without any effort on my part. You've heard the phrase, "work smarter, not harder." There is truth in that adage, but it's only part of the overall context.

It's an observable fact that just working hard, putting in the hours, probably has the smallest contribution to success.

We all have the same 24 hours a day, and plenty of people worked very hard as measured by hours but have little success to show for it. A low-income earner, working two jobs a week, putting in 10 to 12 hours a day, is working as "hard" or harder quantitatively as the millionaire tech creator.

You have to put in the time necessary to follow whatever is required to achieve your goal.

If you try to schedule and limit your efforts, you have a hobby, not an ambition. Sure, I may schedule my writing for 6 AM to 8 AM every morning because that's necessary to coordinate with my other work. But that schedule is the minimum, not the max that I will put in. I have to get the minimum done and add all other time I can devote to writing where and when I can.

Maybe I can develop an app in four weeks, write a book in six months, lose 20 pounds in four months, become a doctor in 10 years. Some goals have more stringent, time-based requirements, and some are a matter of the sheer quality of the creative effort.

Don't let the physical time be the deciding factor; it's being committed to the time that will make the difference.


As many smart people have advised, once you get into your committed routines, you often reach what is called the state of "flow." Flow is a concept where you are so involved in the work that you actually lose track of time.

And once you learn flow, you are more likely to discover new ideas or opportunities.

Concentrating on a task - one aspect of flow

In positive psychology, a flow state, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does and a resulting transformation in one's sense of time. Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in 1975, the concept has been widely referred to flow state across a variety of fields … the concept has been claimed to have existed for thousands of years under other names.

#3. Recognize, Adopt, and Adapt.

Every success story I've read about, or observed with people I know, are filled with examples of the unplanned detours, obstacles, and even opportunities. And your decisions and actions will also create new issues, good and bad. You just don't know what you're going to encounter. The pursuit of success is a combination of recognizing and dealing with obstacles and recognizing and adapting to new opportunities.

So: Do not be rigid and absolute in defining your goal and the plan.

Recognize both obstacles and opportunities. Adopt new information and adapt to conditions over which you might not have control. Humans are hardwired with a negativity bias and are easily discouraged, disappointed, and diverted. There will be things we didn't expect and things we don't like, and they are going to pop up somewhere along the line. Know that the negatives are inevitable; accept them as part of the process.

"People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy."-- Tony Robbins
"Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure, or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that's where you will find success." Thomas J. Watson (Founder of IBM)

#2. Success Is a Continuous Effort, Not a One-Time Event

"Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston S. Churchill
"The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same."- Colin R. Davis

Too often, people take the final achievement as the endpoint. Achieving a measurable successful outcome- getting the new job, losing 20 lbs., flying solo -is the first stage.

Maintaining that attained success then becomes a continuous effort.

Once you learn how to achieve success, you also learn how to manage the thoughts, choices, and actions that made success possible. The next step is known to every athlete, artist, creative person, exerciser, business leader, politician, etc.

Once you learn how to succeed, you have to continue to practice and refine the process you used to achieve that success.

And most likely, the qualities of your success will also evolve — you can expand the range of your successes around your chosen goal or extend the techniques to other goals.

You've got ideas, you've got to do the work anyway, do something with your 24 hours a day. Make it a successful 24 hours.

#1. Control Your Own Psychology, Self-Talk. Sustain Your Confidence, Beliefs, and Positivity

You are in control of your success. Control your self-talk and thoughts, and sustain your confidence, beliefs and positivity.

Controlling your own thoughts and beliefs is the #1 skill for success.

"Don't let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning."-- Robert Kiyosaki
"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today."-- Franklin D. Roosevelt

The foundation of the personal transformation and self-help industry is how we manage our own psyche – from the power of positive thinking to the law of attraction. I wrote my book about the single technique of successful manifestation — The Manifestation Formula.

There are endless quotes about the power of our thoughts and our minds' capabilities from teachers, philosophers, and scientists over the past 3000 years. Humans are uniquely self-aware creatures, and we think and wonder about ourselves, our universe, how everything came to be. It's a concept that's hard to absorb, but we have the ability to think, non-stop, to ourselves, about why we are even thinking what we think!

Our entire existence is one non-stop conversation with ourselves

Self-talk from every perspective on any topic. Our internal conversations are conscious decisions, pop-up ideas; even our dreams are composed of dialogues, emotions and experiences.

Many philosophers have said some version of "you are what you think." We spend most of our time thinking about what we are.

What we think about our goals, how confident we are in believing we can succeed, how we maintain a positive attitude "most of the time," is what drives all the other factors. A positive mindset about the benefits of your goal, how you will feel when you achieve it, how you can overcome obstacles, how you adapt to changing circumstances – that positive outlook is what enables you to keep going.

My personal discovery for a success formula was to realize that we have to modernize our understanding of the survival instinct

For most of human history, survival was based on both conscious and intuitive caution and fear. Our ancestors learned that it was not a good idea to walk into a dark cave looking for food, which is why we are here today. But today, our caution and fear are largely self-created and stimulated and aggravated by everything external.

One of the so-called "secrets" of success and manifestation is to be "positive most of the time."

But no one can be 100% positive, and the inevitable doubts, fears, and uncertainties are still necessary to plan and assess risks and actions. The key to managing a success mindset is to manage the ratio of positive thoughts to negative thoughts, as explained in The Manifestation Formula.

My discovery was already embedded in basic statistical theory. In the normal distribution or bell-shaped curve, which states that most events occur in the middle, approximately 68% of outcomes hover around the theoretical average.

The leap I made was to apply the same concept to my thinking about my goals — 68% of my thoughts about my goal should be positive, supporting what I wanted to achieve. I cannot get rid of the fears, doubts, and uncertainties, but I discovered a threshold for how to keep negativity under control.

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."-- Thomas Edison

- Richard Spitzer January 2021.

Upcoming Articles:

  • The Modern Survival Instinct

  • Setting Goals

  • Power of Negative Thoughts

  • How to Manifest Health & Wellness

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