S is for Focusing On Success Rather Than Sideshows

Gold Medal

People love to follow their passions. They can then translate these into a clear purpose and work hard to achieve their picture of success.

Reaching these aims can produce a sense of peace. Sometimes people can get sidetracked, however, by sideshows that divert them from reaching their goals.

Imagine that you want to work towards your aims. Let’s explore how to keep focused and avoid the distractions.


Success means different things for different people. Here are some answers that people have given when invited to describe their life goals.

My Picture of Success is to:

Help our children enjoy happy lives … Be a good partner … Do satisfying work that helps other people and provides a reasonable salary … Inspire people by making compelling films about wildlife.

Educate people to take care of their own health … Help people to be architects of their lives … Show how it is possible to live a sustainable life … Create positive memories … Help to build a better world.

People often start by describing such aims. They then break these down into specific steps they can take each day. There are many different ways to make such plans.

Sports psychologists, for example, spend a lot of time helping athletes to set goals. The approach they use can be applied by many other people in their lives and work.

Good athletes follow their passions. They then focus on an event where they have a chance of achieving peak performance. Sometimes it can be useful to follow similar rules when clarifying one’s personal or professional goals.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Looking ahead, can you think of a situation where you want to focus on your picture of success?

Think of one where you want to do your best, but there is a possibility of being sidetracked. The exercise invites you to do the following things.

Describe your picture of success. Base this on the things you can control and also doing your personal best.

Describe the pluses and minuses involved in working to achieve your picture of success.

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People want to achieve success, but sometimes they can get distracted by sideshows. These diversions may take different forms.

People might fall into negative self-talk, spend their days fixing problems rather than driving strategy or become ill-disciplined.

They need to work hard to make full use of their talents. There are countless examples of highly talented people, however, who chose to get distracted by sideshows.

Such people burst on the scene and believed they had made it. They could have worked hard to fulfil their talents. They chose instead to indulge on the early fruits of their success. But that, of course, was their choice.

People who are hard workers can also get diverted by sideshows. One soccer manager explained how this could happen when preparing his team for a major final. He said:

“We will concentrate on performing at our best. Our job is to encourage the players to prepare properly and do everything possible to increase the chances of success.

“We will also educate them to manage the sideshows. These include press interviews, demands from fans and other factors.

“Perhaps the greatest sideshow is looking beyond the game. Players can get wrapped up in thinking about what happens if we win or lose.

“Our priority is to perform at our best on the day. Everything else will be an outcome of that.”

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Imagine that you have clarified your picture of success. Describe the potential sideshows that could appear as you work towards achieving your goals.

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Focusing On The
Picture Of Success

People like to make action plans. They often start by clarifying the key strategies – the principles – they can follow to give themselves the greatest chance of success.

Breaking these down into specific actions, they aim to keep doing the right things in the right way every day. They encourage themselves on the journey and do whatever they can to achieve the picture of success.

People sometimes need to recentre, however, to keep on track. The soccer manager mentioned earlier explained the team’s approach.

“We keep following our principles. We prepare the players to deal with most things. If the unexpected does happen, however, we encourage them to stay calm.

“The players need to go back to basics. They need to keep their shape, keep passing the ball and keep moving. They can then build momentum – rather than panic – and get successes.”

Different people have different ways of recentering. They use these to continue to do their best, rather than get diverted by sideshows.

If you wish, try tackling the final exercise on this theme. Describe how you can work towards your goals and manage any sideshows. Following these disciplines will provide the greatest chance of achieving success.

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