We live in a microwave society where most expect to get what they want - instantly, or at least in less than a minute. We're tricked into believing that fame and success can be achieved overnight, if we'll only work harder, longer and faster. We've adopted an "all or nothing" attitude that says we must either succeed or fail, there is no in-between.
But there is an "in-between," the period between success and failure that for some, lasts for years. Long ago, there was a six-year old boy who, having lost his father, was left to take on the brunt of the household responsibilities while his mother returned to full-time work. He helped raise his younger siblings - cooking and cleaning.
This boy would hold several jobs over the course of his adulthood, from insurance salesman to service station operator. He would experience devastating setbacks, financially and personally, throughout his life. But there was one constant - he loved to cook.
Even more, he loved sharing his good cooking with others and eventually that giving attitude turned into a thriving business. That boy was Harland Sanders, the man behind a company that today, sells over a billion "finger lickin' good" chicken dinners around the world each year.
The most striking part of Sanders' story is how long his "in between" lasted. It wasn't until he was well into his 60s that the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) brand began to truly be recognized as a success. Prior to this, Sanders was an ordinary man trying to make a good living. Sanders' successful restaurant business is based on the secret recipe for his "11 herbs and spices" fried chicken, but the ingredients to his success are not a secret:
Success Ingredient #1: Passion
Despite holding down a variety of jobs, Sanders was passionate about one thing: cooking. He spent a lifetime perfecting his fried chicken recipe and that passion eventually turned into a thriving business.
Do you have a passion? What is it and how can you express it more fully in your life? If you consider yourself to be passion-less, then I suggest spending time looking back on your life to see what excited you in the past. Your passion may be lying in wait, hoping you'll see it.
Take time to clarify your passion. Only then can you begin to produce the behavior that will turn your vision into reality.
Success Ingredient #2: Positive Perspective
At one point in his career, Sanders worked as a service station operator, a profession that couldn't be any further from his passion for cooking! But he didn't let that stop him from sharing his passion. He began serving his homemade meals to travelers who stopped for gas, which sparked a business idea that eventually led to Kentucky Fried Chicken.
What is your perspective? If circumstances are not exactly as you had hoped, are you tapping into your passion to turn it around, or wallowing in negativity? Although external factors may not be ideal, your internal perspective can be just what you need to make it better. You just have to choose to think differently.
The journey to success is not always easy. There may be roadblocks along the way. But remember, in life everyone has choices. You can choose to use your mind as a powerful tool that can work for or against you. No one else is responsible for how you choose to react to your circumstances. Regardless of the challenges you face, you can live a happy, fulfilled and successful life if you learn to use wisely the resources within you.
You are the person with the most power to affect your life. You are the one who decides how to feel about what you are experiencing. You are the one who gets to choose differently.
Do you choose success?
Success Ingredient #3: Perseverance
There are no shortcuts. Sanders' success was years in the making. It didn't happen overnight. He experienced devastating setbacks including the one that became the catalyst for the KFC franchise. His first restaurant business was forced to close and Sanders was left nearly broke. That's when he decided to sell packets of his secret chicken recipe to other restaurant owners. Even then, he didn't experience immediate success. It took several attempts before he succeeded at this new business venture. But his perseverance won and led to the KFC brand we know today.
Don't give up. Success could be just around the corner. Keep in mind that "slow and steady wins the race." If you've ever heard how runners train for a marathon, you know that their preparation didn't occur easily. It takes time and baby steps to build the endurance and fitness needed to run 26.2 miles, but perseverance will make it happen. Crossing the finish line and receiving the medal is the reward for all the hours of hard work and advance preparation.
Success Ingredient #4: Philanthropy
Successful people know that you help yourself when you invest in others. There is nothing more emotionally satisfying than when you give much and expect little in return. Having the willingness to support others and to help them along in their journey is reflected in the attitudes and actions of most successful people. A successful person practices and teaches understanding, tolerance, and service to others. Sanders gave generously of his time and money. He cared deeply about education. Through organizations that he established, he funded scholarships and gave aid to other deserving organizations.
Reach out to others who may be in need. Such acts of human kindness become self-reinforcing because they answer an innate need of all of us to connect with others in a meaningful way. Such actions give value to and help to clarify your life's purpose. Success comes from clarity of passion, recognizing that there are no shortcuts, being willing to do the work, and helping others along the way.
These lessons are as much for you as they are for those you coach and/or mentor. Share these success ingredients with the others in your life. But more important, teach them that popping these ingredients into a microwave doesn't mean instant, ready-in-a-minute success. Show them that the "in-between" is just as important as the achievement. You have the ingredients. Now you need only to follow the recipe to success.
Danita Johnson Hughes, Ph.D. is a healthcare industry executive, public speaker and author of the forthcoming "Turnaround." Through her work she inspires people to dream big and understand the role of personal responsibility in personal and professional success. In her first book, "Power from Within," Danita shares her "Power Principles for Success" that helped her overcome meager beginnings and achieve professional, community and personal success. For more information visit www.danitajohnsonhughes.com.