Things do not happen. Things are made to happen. John F. Kennedy
This was a key phrases from an address he gave at the University of North Dakota in September 1963. It is often used as a motivational phrase, and can be found on any number of web sites if you Google it. Viewed from the perspective of a motivational sound bite, this makes perfect sense. I’ve paraphrased this before in previous blogs as “success doesn’t come looking for you, you go looking for it”.
However Kennedy was not thinking about personal change when he said this. He was speaking about the foresight required for the great engineering projects that had made the US the thriving economy that he had the good fortune to preside over. In particular he was thinking about the Garrison Dam that was started in 1946. Had the decision to build the Dam not gone ahead then society would not have benefited from the economic and recreational benefits that people in the area had come to enjoy.
What makes his remarks more interesting was when he looked ahead to the mid 1970’s – at that point some 12 years in the future. He talked about seizing the opportunities available to deliver future benefit in the same way. What are you planning to do to create future success for yourself?
Kennedy’s thinking does tell us a lot about personal change and we can learn some valuable insight when we apply this thinking to ourselves and our future success:
- If you sit and wait for success you could be waiting a very long time
- There is no short cut to success, you have to put in the hard yards
- You may have to wait for success to come, but when it does come, it will certainly be worth it
Kennedy’s speech actually ended with the following anecdote:
The great French Marshal, Marshal Lyautey , was once talking to his gardener and he suggested that he plant a tree. The gardener said, “Well, why plant it? It won’t flower for 100 years.” And Marshal Lyautey said, “In that case, plant it this afternoon.” [From a transcript at the Chester Fritz Library]
So success also needs personal attributes:
- Vision of what could be, you really DO need to be focused on what you want your future to be
- Patience and focus whilst you work towards success as an outcome, success doesn’t happen overnight and will take time
- The will to start out on the road to success in the first place, if you don’t start you’ll never arrive
In coaching terms I come across many people who dissuade themselves from planting the seed in the first place, to use Kennedy’s anecdote. People don’t set out to be failures and I have yet to meet the person who didn’t want to be successful in life. So what would it take for you to be more successful? What do you need to work on? Is it vision, focus or more determination to succeed? Do you even have a future vison of success for yourself? If you don’t any road you take will do… and ultimately when you miss chances in life, you have to take responsibility for yourself.
The good news is that sometimes all it takes is a little help to take the first step and the rest will follow naturally. You always have a choice. So, do you want to live with passion, power and purpose doing something that really inspires you, or are you resigned to the opposite situation? If you aren’t leaping out of bed in the morning because you can’t wait to meet the challenges of the day, perhaps it is time to call a coach like me?
As Kennedy inferred you have to make things happen because they don’t happen by themselves. You also have to start things, because again, they don’t start themselves. Its never too late to #startsomething, so what are you going to start to create a different future for yourself?