There Is No Quick & Easy One-Size Fits All Success Prescription. So Why Do You Keep Looking?

Bill Cottringer

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson.

There is a very fundamental principle of psychology that helps answers this presumptuous title question. It has to be with our somewhat paradoxical human nature of always wanting our cake and eat it too. In this spirit of thinking, there certainly are global success clues that can help us get past our failures and move onto success with less effort and time. Yet, each and everything we try to do—from being a successful student or teacher, parent or child, athlete or coach, worker or employer, husband or wife, or whatever else we are drive to do—may very well have its own sets of rules of required behavior to get you there.

And not to make things even more complicated than they need to be, there are always certain situations where people have different needs and a different approach is needed to be successful in that particular situation.

This is just like the global reality that we all want to be happy and successful in life, work, relationships and hobbies. But, that is where the similarity and common denominator ends and differences start. We may need different levels of this grand prize at different times and in different situations. And, the actual “how to be happy and successful prescription” will always be an individual, highly personal matter of preference and choice, as is the personal perception that you have enough or not enough.

Moreover, each pursuit we engage in, such as loving, solving problems, playing sports or music, managing a business, trying to live a good life, being a religious person, practicing medicine or psychology, photographing and so, may very well have its own unique prescription for being successful in doing it. And of course we already know about different situations requiring a whole new approach.

I have found the most productive definition of success and happiness is simply doing the things you need to do to get enough of those results to feel a sense of progress. This is a personalized prescription you develop from reading, learning from others and trial and error.

I am certainly not the first to say this and probably not the last to say it, but the degree of character development a person works towards in becoming his or her best self, is highly related to the degree of success and happiness present in that person. Character development involves learning and practicing virtuous behaviors that have universal appeal and proof of life, so to speak.

In opening up to this idea of becoming successful by having your cake and eat it to, consider taking advantage of global success clues that are readily available and at the same time customizing them to your unique personality and the special thing you have chosen to do at any given time and then further, to the unique situation at hand.

Look over these examples of what experts in various fields say about the virtues to develop and practice to get to the land of good and plenty promised for the effort:

From a biblical/theological point of view: Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, and Humility.

From a military perspective: Courage, Compassion, Service, Honesty, Persistence, Humility, Selflessness, Hope, Creativity, Self-Control, Grace, and, Integrity.

From a Philosophers point of view: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance.

From a business perspective: Valiant, Validating, Vehement, Verifiable, Versatile, Veteran, Vibrant, Victorious, Vigilant, Virtuous, Visionary and Voracious.

From a New-Age Psychologists point of view: Resilience, Empathy, Patience, Sacrifice, Politeness, Humor, Self-awareness, Forgiveness, Hope and Confidence.

From a photographers perspective: Creativity, awe, humility, perseverance, and timing.

Now do some on-line research in your prospective or chosen field and see what the most important virtues and critical behaviors are suggested to get to the finish line in those fields. After this read success stories from your desired field to learn more, and then start seeking out a mentor guru who is already highly successful and happy in your target field.

And, in the end no matter how much you already know and how much happiness and success you presently enjoy, there is always abundantly more waiting in your perpetual pursuit of learning, growing and improving.

A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. ~John C. Maxwell.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the peaceful but invigorating mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden), and “If Pictures Could Talk,” coming soon. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or