Every influential person has gone through a step-by-step process to their ultimate success. If you follow the same pattern, you too can discover ultimate success. That’s one of the many wonders of human behavior. If you desire something, you can find someone else who has achieved what you want and imitate exactly what was done. This is called modeling. The Apostle Paul referred to modeling when he wrote, “And you shouldimitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NLT).
Have you heard the story of Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen who co-authored Chicken Soup for the Soul together? In creating and publishing this bestseller, they went through the same process every successful person has gone through. They had the idea to write a book of inspiring stories. Then they acted by writing the book. After writing the book, they sought a publisher. Every publisher they spoke with turned them down, but they did not quit. They adjusted themselves, remained flexible, and persistent. After being rejected 144 times, they finally landed a publishing deal. That was in 1993. Since then, over 250 titles have been added to the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series with more than 110 million copies sold in the U. S. and Canada. Now that’s ultimate success.
Have you ever eaten Kentucky Fried Chicken? Do you know that Colonel Sanders went through the same step-by-step process every successful person uses to achieve a desired goal? When Colonel Sanders started, he was a retiree with a recipe. That’s it. However, he had the tenacity to act on his idea. After receiving his first Social Security check, he tried selling his chicken recipe to restaurants for a percentage of the proceeds. This did not work, but the Colonel didn’t stop. He stayed persistent. He drove all over the country, even sleeping in his car, looking for someone to back him. After each rejection, he adjusted himself, changed his idea, and kept pressing on. Colonel Sanders was rejected 1,009 times before someone said “Yes” and backed his recipe.
These two success stories illustrate the step-by-step process of the successful. The process can be described in four steps and can be replicated by anyone willing to pursue an idea and dream. Let’s go over those steps together:
Know what you want: You begin by knowing what you want. In other words, you begin with the end in mind. Do you remember the story of Abram as recorded in Genesis 15:5? Let’s read it together, “Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, ‘Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!’” (NLT). What was God doing with Abram? He was giving him a dream and a vision. God was instilling a desire in Abram to know what he wanted. From that moment forward, Abram knew what he was looking for.
This is what God does for us as well. God puts dreams in our hearts. He plants ideas into our minds. We are all created with a vision we are to discover. Just like the Prophet Jeremiah. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5 NLT).
You have been set apart as well. You have been created with a purpose. Just like Abram and Jeremiah, you have a calling to be a blessing to the world. This purpose is where you begin. This is the first step.
Canfield and Hansen had an idea for a book. Colonel Sanders had a recipe. You have something to give too. What is it? Your success begins with knowing what you want.
Take action: The next step is to act. Your dream will never come to fruition without action. This point seems obvious, but action is what separates the successful from those who are merely dreamers.
God told Joshua, “I will give you every place where you set your foot” (Joshua 1:3 NIV). For Joshua to receive the promised land, he had to take action. Moving into the land and setting his foot was the action he was to take. The Promised Land would only remain a promise until he took action. Once he took action, the promise became a reality.
God also told Joshua if he would do what was written in the Book of the Law, he would be prosperous and successful. The operative word here is “Do.” Without doing, there would be no prosperity or success.
Even the book of James tells us the same about action. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22 NIV). Dreams often come to us as a word. It may be a still, small, inward word from the LORD, but it is a word, nonetheless. You cannot just receive the word and not act on it. Prophesies come into reality through action. While it will take faith for your dream to become reality, it cannot be a faith that’s alone. It must be a faith accompanied by action. “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 1:17 NIV).
Canfield and Hansen had faith to persist through 144 rejections. Colonel Sanders had faith to overcome 1,009 rejections. True faith always produces action. Actions toward the achievement of a goal are the best prophesies of success.
Look for results: After taking action, look for results. Every action will produce a result. Look to see if the results you are getting are taking you closer to achieving your goal. Your goal is your desired result. So, your actions should be moving you closer to the result you desire.
To know if he was being successful, Joshua had to ask himself if he was indeed possessing the Promised Land. In the same way, you must take note of what results your actions are producing. Then ask yourself if you are getting closer to achieving your goal. This is the art of being able to receive feedback. Your actions always produce feedback. Many people do not reach success because they do not listen to the feedback of their actions. Remember, Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (NIV). Pay attention to what you are reaping.
Canfield and Hansen paid attention to the results they were reaping. Each rejection gave them necessary feedback. Colonel Sanders reaped 1,009 instances of feedback. Each instance of feedback was not a failure but a lesson toward success. Feedback alerts you to what you are sowing and will lead you to the fourth step of the successful.
Remain flexible: If you are not getting what you desire, you must remain flexible and change your behavior accordingly. This is extremely important to understand. If your actions are not getting you closer to achieving your goal, then listen to the feedback and correct your behaviors until you get what you desire.
Your actions create events. Events create your response. Your response creates an outcome, and the cycle starts all over again. You have control over your response to any event, which then affects the outcome. If you want a different outcome, then change your response. This will get you closer to your goal and what you desire.
Being flexible in this way is a sign of maturity. It is always good to have a plan, but once you begin following your plan, events will occur, doors will open, and doors will close. These unforeseen outcomes will give you feedback to use to correct your course and stay on track to achieve your desire, goal, and dream. This is how it works, and successful people have learned this secret.
Paul and his traveling companions had to remain flexible as they were acting to achieve their goal of spreading the gospel. We can read about Paul’s flexibility in Acts 16:6-10.
"Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man in Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them" (NIV).
Paul and his companions had a clear goal in mind, but they had to remain flexible. What appeared to be a roadblock was nothing more than feedback for course correction. As Paul listened to the feedback and remained flexible, he was able to achieve exactly what he desired. Had he not remained flexible he would not have received his Macedonian call. Paul’s goal of preaching the gospel was never compromised, but the details of how he reached that goal were altered with each action he took. Paul knew the wisdom of listening to feedback and remaining flexible.
In the same way, Canfield and Hansen remained flexible as they sought to be published. Colonel Sanders was also flexible as he slept in his car traveling all over the country seeking someone to back his chicken recipe. Flexibility is the attitude of the successful as they seek to achieve their goals, dreams, and what they truly desire in and from life.
So, decide what you want. What are your dreams? What goals do you have? What is it you really desire? Then take action. Don’t worry about all the details. Just act. As you are acting on what you desire, listen to the feedback. Remain flexible as you listen to the feedback and make any course corrections you need to make as your move toward your goals, dreams, and desires.
By doing so, God and the universe will get behind you, and his promise to you will come to pass, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 NIV).