Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
But what stops us from making our own luck? What stops us from making the most of our opportunities?
It usually boils down to one thing—fear.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most well-known and admired poets of the 19th Century in America, whose works include The Song of Hiawatha and the epic poem Evangeline, put it this way:
“A man’s life is a history to his fears.”
Fear causes inactive faith. It prevents you from taking action on your hopes, dreams, and desires.
Inaction over a lifetime curtails not only your potential but also your success, and when you look back at your life you see a story of what could have been—a history of unfulfilled desires and talent written with the pen of fear.
But the future is not yet written, it’s a blank page, so there is a counter to fear. There is a way through it, and that’s arming yourself with active faith.
The pen is mightier than the sword, as they say, and there’s always time to rewrite your history the way you want it to turn out.
So why not look ahead, plan what you want to do, and write the remaining pages of your life with the pen of active faith?
A simple, everyday example of active faith that you can implement almost immediately is preparing for your next holiday.
On my road trip from Denver to Las Vegas in the mid-90s, I actively prepared for my arrival at my hotel on The Strip by bringing my backpack. It’s what we all do when we go on holiday.
We pack our bags with clothes, swimming bathers, toiletries, and maybe a passport and other items we will need when we get to our destination:
We prepare in advance for our successful arrival.
We know exactly where we’re going—we can even see the hotel or apartment in our minds, inhale the aromas and hear the noises we expect to encounter when we get there—and we just do it.
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioners give this mental preparation for success a term, which they call “future pacing”.
We generally do this “future pacing” on autopilot, without paying it too much thought.
We expect to arrive safely at our hotel or lodgings with a high degree of certainty, and we envisage ourselves doing the things we want to do on holiday with just as much expectancy.
We prepare for our holiday success as a matter of fact, as though it is already written in your holiday diary.
We imagine what we want and we do it, but more often than not it’s an unconscious and unthinking process, almost humdrum.
But think of all the times you’ve succeeded this way, more unconsciously than consciously.
Imagine how much more you could achieve and how much more success you could enjoy if you just put a little bit more conscious thought into your intentions and desires.
How wonderful, then, would it be if success in life was as matter of fact as driving or flying or training to your holiday destination?
How wonderful would it be to expect to arrive at where you want to go in life as easy as arriving at your hotel?
Well, you can achieve the success you want, if you’re more conscious about it, but there is a little bit more work to do before success comes as easy as booking a holiday.
That’s also assuming we’re using Earl Nightingale’s definition of success, which is:
Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal.
You have to dig into that goldmind of yours and actively think about what you need to do.
Success doesn’t come without thought; it doesn’t come without brainpower.
It doesn’t come without foresight and imagination and planning.
It doesn’t also tend to come without preparation either. It doesn’t come without constructively developing the skills or gaining the education required to sidestep the barriers of entry of your desired career.
Nor does it come without the faith and belief that you’ll receive the rewards you’re working for.
Which leads to the final point, that your success won’t come without taking action, without effort, without persevering.
Perseverance is the 3rd element of Power Habit #4: Planning, Preparation & Perseverance.
It is just as crucial as the first two elements of planning and preparation.
According to Earl Nightingale’s definition above, success is progressive, which means there is no such thing as effortless success. Very few, if any, achieved success on their first attempt.
There’s a saying that the master has failed more times than the amateur has tried. Masters know that success waits for you to take the first step.
They also know there’s no easy way, that faith without works is dead. You have to take some form of action to bridge the gap and move closer to your destination.
You have to put in the effort. You have to persevere.
Giving up is not an option. There will be obstacles in your way along your journey to success, and only those who keep persevering will cross the finish line.
Winston Churchill put it this way when he visited Harrow School, his alma mater, in 1941:
“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
In other words, set your course and keep going no matter what.
That’s what successful people do: they set their course and simply don’t give in. It means they fail more often, but it also means they succeed more too.
Michael Jordan claimed he missed 10,000 shots in his basketball career, and that’s why he was a success. Colonel Sanders’ recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken was rejected 1009 times before he found a willing backer.
They were resilient. They persevered. They used failures as stepping stones to their success.
So, in your intention to become the person you want to be and do the things you really want to do, planning, preparation, and perseverance will be required.