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Success Stories --
Reliving The Past Helps You Build The Future

Michael Clark

One of the exercises that I have many clients do is list out all the successes they've had in life. I ask them to start with early childhood and list everything they can remember being successful at. One of my clients recently gave the assignment to his girlfriend. She asked me afterwards what the point was. She hadn't found it very useful.

What I told her is that that I've found that this exercise serves two important services. First, it's a self esteem booster. Most people don't realize how many successes they've had in their lives until they write them down. Some express surprise and sometimes some modesty when sharing their successes. I'd recommend this exercise just for this boost alone, but the second reason for doing this is even more valuable. Success leaves clues behind.

When I ask a client to list their successes, it's usually because they are stuck in some area of their business. They've tried several strategies to get unstuck and nothing has worked. When we take some of their major successes and analyze them, we find patterns. I ask them how they accomplished major tasks. What methodology did they use?

What we typically find is that they have a natural success style. For some people this is setting a goal and creating a detailed plan to meet that goal. For others it's just jumping in and doing whatever it takes to make it work. Others might just go with the flow and do what appears easy or exciting. One client set a small goal and met it. Then he set higher and higher goals meeting each one before he moved on to the next. It ended with four consecutive world championships.

So if you are finding yourself stuck in trying to accomplish a task in your business, stop right now and list out your successes. Start from being born--it's not easy to get out and start breathing. Move through your entire life and write down every success you can remember. You might have things like starring in a school play, completing a century on your bicycle, getting an A in a difficult subject. Make sure you cover graduations, college degrees, advanced trainings. Don't limit it to just work related or school related successes. Make sure you include the things you most enjoyed succeeding at.

Once you have the list, go through and pick two or three major ones and analyze them. What did you do to succeed? How did you feel? Were you afraid beforehand? If you were, how did you cope with or minimize the fear? Did you do a lot of planning? Did you jump right in? Were you alone or did you have help? Find the reasons you succeeded.

Now look for a pattern. I did this recently because I was really struggling to get my business going strongly. The exercise revealed that many of my successes came when I had a structured environment with a lot of creative activities. I realized that I needed more structure in my business. I had plenty of creative time. So I found a friend that I can do weekly check-ins with that holds me accountable for my actions. Each week I share with him my goals or homework for the next week. Then when we meet I share how well I met the goal. This is making a huge difference in the success of my business. Try mapping your past successes and watch as it makes a huge difference in your current success.

Business expert Michael Clark has been helping businesses including Fortune 500 companies such as IBM and Cellular One succeed for over 20 years. Michael is an authority on getting business owners out of overwhelm and getting the most out of their businesses. Get more business success ideas at

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