Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Cycle of Success and The Power of Five

Success, according to Lisa Jimenez in Conquer Fear!, is a cycle of enthusiasm and discipline.  When you lack enthusiasm to do something, that discipline had better kick in, and when it does, that brings results, and results bring more enthusiasm, and enthusiasm brings in more discipline which bring in even more results, and this is where you want to be in the success cycle.  Still, it all comes down to discipline, doesn’t it?  For a writer, discipline is what you need to produce results, whether it’s five pages written, five query letters sent out, or five stories submitted.  This is what I call The Power of Five.

Robert Collier said, “Success is the small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”  So I keep Power of Five reminders on my computer table, on my computer, and in my 3-5 keep-me-motivated goal cards.  I know, overkill.  But I don’t want to escape those reminders and that’s good – so long as I actually do it!
Well this week I did.  Among doing other things, I finally submitted five short stories each day for five consecutive week days.  So that’s 25 stories out this week.  For a mailing, that’s not particularly huge.  In the past I’ve done more than 25 in one day on several occasions.  But then weeks would go by, months before I got around to sending out my stuff again, and I got a lot of stuff to send out.  Maybe 200 or more of what I call writing assets, be it articles, short stories, novels, screenplays, plus about 50 more that could be written fairly easily, then there are query letters for articles that I would like to write, and letters to agents and publishers that I need to get out if I really want to take my writing career to that next level.
During the years that I was teaching writing full time my efforts at marketing my work or myself as a writer were erratic at best, and now I want to change all that.  I want to be more consistent in my approach to success.  The Power of Five is my answer.  I learned about this from Jack Canfield’s Rule of 5 in The Success Principles.  He and Mark Victor Hansen would do five specific things that would move their goal toward completion, to get Chicken Soup for the Soul to the top of the New York Times Best-Seller List.  It took them a year to make the list and another year to make it to the top.  Those five things, day in and day out, created this momentum, as they pushed a huge rock up the best-selling mountain, but when they reached the top after two years, going down that other side was much easier.  They now reaped the benefits of what they sowed.  The Chicken Soup for the Soul series went on to become the publishing phenomenon of the decade.

For me, if I apply my own Power of Five every working day (Power sounds more powerful than Rule), it will require discipline.  After awhile, this discipline will become habit, so even if I don’t feel like doing it, even if I lack even a spark of enthusiasm, the discipline will kick in, then the results will come, and then I start seeing the possibilities and I get really excited, and I enthusiastically, send out some more.  This is the energy I felt this week.   Sure most editors will say, thanks, but no thanks, but every now and then, one will say, “We love it!”  That’s how I recently got my 100th short story publication! 
When I start doing this for the small stuff, like short stories, I start thinking about the big stuff, like novels and screenplays, agents and movie deals. It has always been about submitting, submitting, submitting what you write.  Already I can see the possibilities.   If it works for others, and not just for Jack Canfield, maybe it’ll work for me too and that’s worth finding out.  So come Monday (or maybe even this weekend), I’ll send out five more.  In fact yesterday, I actually sent out six, and that sixth one was a biggie, to a publisher in the US for a collection of short stories.  See, already I can feel it’s working and that after one week!
So what five things can you do today that will take you a step closer to your goals?  

Of course my wife just found five things for me to do around the house, but that’s ok.  We’re in this together. I definitely want to keep our marriage in a success cycle, too.

              -Robert Raymer, Borneo Expat Writer

*Here's a link to more on Lisa Jimenez and a video too.

**Update, the 20th anniversary of Lovers and Strangers Revisited

***Here the link to my website, to MPH online for orders for all three of my books, including my latest, Spirit of Malaysia and for Trois autres Malaisie.


Lydia Teh said...

Hi Robert, you're really diligent. Hats off to you. I hope you reap more success along the way. With a full time job now, I can't practise the Power of 5 in my writing, maybe in my job :)

BorneoExpatWriter said...

Hi Lydia,
Yeah I'm feeling that pinch too between doing what you need to do to make a living versus doing what you need to do to have a career in writing, one of the reasons i walked away from teaching.

I'm hoping this Power of Five, something I've been contemplating for far too long, will hold the answer to both. I have faith in it, but it all begins with discipline. No discipline, no results. No results, no enthusiasm, and then years can drift by...Been there, done that!

They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I've already set that habit in motion. Now I need the discipline to maintain it, and only I am responsible for what I do. It's a choice. I need to get out of my own way and stop holding myself back, stop making excuses (no matter how valid they are) and deliver!