The Achievement Cycle

I raised my voice to a student last night.

I am very, very slow to anger. Even at my worst, I’m fairly calm. After repeatedly hearing “I’m going to fail this test,” I’d had enough.

Part of my job is to be a counselor. Sometimes that requires a hammer.

In a moment of uncharacteristic brusqueness fueled by disgust, I pointed to the door and extended an invitation to leave.

I will wholeheartedly accept failure. I will not tolerate giving up before taking a chance.

Knowing Thursday was my last opportunity to still jangling nerves prior to Tuesday’s exam, I spent an hour or so thinking through a speech the night before. Like any coach, I create a message designed to reach those under my supervision. The lesson is usually intended to extend far beyond classroom walls into life.

I stood in front of the class and described a three-part cycle for achievement.

The process for making anything happen is very simple. Most of us, however, hardly ever go about consciously taking action. We rely instead on old behavioral patterns to fulfill our own prophecies. This is how you get things done:

1. Belief
The foundation of any result is mindset. Whether the scale tips towards confidence or uncertainty, the brain is at work. As tension mounts under the pressure of overwhelm, it goes into a disorganized firing pattern. Stress scrambles the synchronized communication between cells while the assured mind calmly walks the tightrope between victory and defeat.

This is the mental equivalent of deciding whether to build your home on quicksand or bedrock.

2. Preparation
Abraham Lincoln is often quoted as saying, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Without laying a solid–and unglamorous–framework, your likelihood of success is tenuous at best. Taking the necessary steps to plot your course gives you more than driving directions, it galvanizes your faith.

3. Execution
In the end, every obstacle is scaled as encountered. Your conviction and strategy must be tested against opposing force. This is the nature of completing the previous two steps.

Occasionally, your decisions in the build-up are misguided or your courage wavers at an inopportune time. At other times, you’ll storm past everything in your way and plant your flag. Whether faced with failure or celebrating triumph, take a moment to consider how you worked through each step as you regroup for the next challenge.

The astounding thing about this is how quickly it builds on itself.

Momentum gained from positive outlook inspires better planning and more efficient action. Even if the effort falls short, the experience can be applied the next time to improve as required.

Before you know it, what once was impossible is now easy.

Knowing Thursday was my last opportunity to still jangling nerves prior to Tuesday’s exam, I spent an hour or so thinking through a speech the night before. Like any basketball coach

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1 Response to “The Achievement Cycle”



  1. 1 Surviving Rock Bottom « MeBuilding Trackback on April 28, 2010 at 7:25 am
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