What is success?

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”
John Lubbock

What do I want?

This simple yet powerful and surprisingly difficult-to-answer query reveals much about both personal and business vision. Your answers reveal how clearly you have defined your goals, or the results you want, and your desire, the degree to which you want those results.

What do you want? Your answers to this question tell a great deal about the breadth, depth and distance into a desirable future that your vision might – or might not – carry you, your career or your business. Your answer tells others about your commitment to change, and the motivation and sense of urgency you have toward achieving your stated desires. What do you want? Your answer will instill credibility and confidence within you and in others that you will achieve higher levels of success – or not.

Life is either a magnificent obsession or a meaningless odyssey.

Some people want more from themselves…, more from their work…, more from their schools…, more from their organizations…, more from their communities. They want to achieve extraordinary goals. The rest, well, they are comfortable with letting circumstances dictate their results or they are just not sure of what they want. If you cannot provide a compelling vision for success, how can you ever hope to achieve it?

“More people fail through lack of purpose than through lack of talent.”

Billy Sunday

Most of us are hired or get started in business based on our skills and knowledge. Our earlier educational experiences have created a subtle paradigm that suggests “because we learned something we can perform what we learned”. The critical element of this paradigm is that we perform at an acceptable level of proficiency. You probably have heard the adage, “knowledge is power.” Most business training is based on this paradigm, that “learning in the workshop will be transferred to performance on the work floor.” Congratulations if you already see the fallacy of this paradigm.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”


Knowledge is NOT power. With traditional training, learning is typically transferred at a very low rate from workshop to work floor, or from knowing to performance improvement. Clearly, knowledge is not power. Applied knowledge is power. It’s not what we know or can do; it is what we actually do with what we know that determines success. Mastery comes from three elements: desire, knowing what to do and how to do it, and repeated practice until the skill becomes second-nature: habit.

As a coach, one of my core values is that “No one knows you or your business better than you.” If you receive training without distinctly knowing what you want to do with the skills and knowledge learned and why that is important to you, the likelihood of you turning the learning into habits practiced daily is slim to none. This is one of the major reasons that more companies are combining traditional training with professional coaching.

Wanting something has little to do with what you know about it, however. To an extent, we’re all a bit like children in a candy store – we tend to want most everything we see, regardless of what we know about it. Extending this, without knowing what we want we may never tasted the best sweetness that life has to offer.

Skills and knowledge create potential. That’s why I encourage young people to become voracious readers and explorers, to participate in a variety of activities and groups, to travel, to take interesting elective courses in school and, of course, to do well in school. Why would anyone want to limit his or her potential? Try as many flavors as you can.

Of course, why would anyone want to limit what he or she actually achieves with that potential? Yet when I ask, “What do you want?” few people at any age provide lucid answers. It is as easy to hear the lack of confidence in how they answer as it is easy to hear the lack of clarity in what they say. Clarity does not come from knowledge and skills alone; it comes from the interaction of knowledge, skills, attitudes, the practice of daily habits, all of which are still limited in application and value without a well-conceived goal. Having a well-defined goal is knowing what you want.

It’s never too late to be who you might have been.

George Eliot

  • What do you want?
  • Why? How will your life, your career, your business, your community…be better off if you get what you want?
  • What has kept you, so far, from getting what you want?
  • What might keep you from getting what you want?

By the way, focusing on what you want does not – should not – be an act of selfishness. We exist to serve; therefore, our dreams and desires are meant to serve others as well. If you need help articulating What YOU Want that will make your life a magnificent obsession, then email askthecoach@pdncoach.com.

About pdncoach

A Go-Giver business coach working with leaders whose success depends on the performance and productivity of others. I coach individual leaders and their teams... in small to mid-size businesses, ministries and non-profits... to accelerate their results and achieve dreams by getting past the difficult, strategic challenges of their current realities.
This entry was posted in career, desire, goal, goals, potential, questions, results, values, vision, what do you want. Bookmark the permalink.

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