An Approach to Life and Success---Ari Kiev Wisdom

I read a lot of books--mostly on success--and how to be a success. I have been reading success literature for the past, well, I'd say, 25 years. Has it been that long? Yes it has.

I've read books by great authors who turned my life around. In every instance the good reads started with how to think. These books were mostly about, in essence, how to think more positively. But the really good books explained how the brain, or mind if you prefer, works.

Paying Homage to Ari Kiev
In this post I want to pay homage to the late Ari Kiev. Dr. Kiev (he was a true doctor, getting his MD and then studying psychology) practiced in NYC. As we all know, NYC is a pretty tough, competitive environment for anyone.

How tough? I'm reminded of the Robbin Williams joke: "Want to hear a New York echo?" he would ask. He'd imitate an Alps Yodeler in the valleys of skyscrapers, "Hellloooo!!!!" Then he'd wait for the echo: "F@%k yooouuu!!!"

A tough place? Yeah, I'd say so.

Kiev opened his practice to business people who were experiencing stress in their jobs and who were ultimately lost as to how to "be" and still strive for success. By the way, this is my interpretation not his--especially the "be" part. This man was a genius. He was asked later to coach Olympic athletes and later started working with Wall Street professionals coaching them on how to overcome their fears, their childhood learned limitations, and develop a new approach to work and being successful. If you get a chance read some of his earlier works they are a cross between Zen, being successful, learning how to live in the now, planning a life, and being happy.

It's the Striving that is Important
In one of his last books before he passed away, Hedge Fund Masters, he provides a little anecdote--a story of sorts. The story has a point. The point is something we have all heard at one point in our lives. It's refreshing to hear this, at least to me, because it tells me it's okay to do something--to strive for something. Instinctively you and I know this (strive for something) as a truth. But rarely do we have someone, who is an expert in the field, to say "it's okay" to do something--that is take a yes or no stand in today's world. The real power comes into play when I hear this part--which I never heard before: strive for the goal, but it's not the achieving it that is truly important. The importance is to set a goal and then develop a strategy aiming at the success of achieving the goal.

Developing a success strategy begins with taking a stand. Here he is, from chapter three "Planning a Strategy" in his own words (Hedge Fund Masters Ari Kiev pg. 71):

"Let me tell you an inspiring sports story to off my thoughts on strategy. A few years ago, I was consulted by Gary, the coach of a promising young athlete. Gary wasn't sure whether the youngster, a figure skater, should go all out for the gold medal in an upcoming competition or should hold back and plan to return to win another time. 'Go for the gold,' I urged him. 'There is no substitute for total commitment to the best possible outcome.'

"I'm not an expert in figure skating, but what I was saying to Gary was to make the gold medal the vision, not to plan for a half-hearted effort to protect his skater from the chance of failure. Once he did that, he needed to devise a step-by-step strategy to make it happen."

What's Your Vision? Your Goal?
How about you? Do you have a vision for your future? What is it? What does it look like in detail? How do you know you have achieved a goal you have set for yourself? Is there an "end result"-- a figure? a number? an award? something tangible? Is it a new way of living?

Now I am not saying that you that you should define yourself as the award or end-result? But why not set a goal? Something to shoot for. Why not aim your life and daily actions toward?

What Actions Are You Taking Each Day?
Now here's the thing that you don't hear too often. It's not whether you achieve the goal. It's how much effort and energy you put into striving to achieve the goal. It's the daily routine you create, the discipline of doing the things necessary to achieve the goal that is more important. It is, as Ari Kiev says in one of his books, the daily efforts that are important. The pain staking preparation and daily planning and the actions--the actions--the little things that add up over the course of time, that really help you in becoming better at what you do, who you are striving to become, that are really the focus and the outcome, that matter.

This is advice is against the grain for most of the success literature that I have read. I thought the success was achieving the goal. But no. The success is in becoming the person who can achieve the goal. And the becoming comes from the daily rigor and efforts that seem like we are crawling along the highway while others are cruising by at 70 miles per hour.

Focus On Each Step In Front of You
Kiev says somewhere in one of his books about success and creating a successful life comparing it to climbing a mountain. You don't keep your eyes focused on the mountain top or the pinnacle. Sure you are aiming to get there. Your focus needs to be on each step you take. Where you are planting your foot, and placing one foot in front of the other along the journey--and occasionally--glancing up to look at the peak to make sure you are still heading in the direction you need to go.

To me, I was focused on the mountain top, for way to long. It may explain some of my falls. It may also explain why I never even started in some cases, as the climb seemed way too ambitious. In other cases, where I reached the summit, I can recall the painstaking arduous tasks of some of the most minor things I had to do--and there seemed so many of them--yet fortunately--I enjoyed the reward of the tasks in front of me. And there, in that last sentence, may be another lesson.

Good luck.

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