The American writer, Charles Garfield, who has made a thorough, psychological study of peak-achievement, says that ‘in a study of 90 leaders in business, politics, sports and arts, many spoke of ‘false starts’ but never of ‘failure.’ Disappointment spurs greater resolve, growth or change. Moreover, no matter how rough things get, super-achievers always feel there are other avenues they can explore. They always have another idea to test.’ (Readers’ Digest, October, 1986).
The writer emphasizes the fact, however, that these high achievers are neither superhuman, charismatic nor even singularly talented, what they do have in common is an ‘uncanny knack for increasing the odds in their favour through simple techniques that almost anyone can cultivate.’ He delineates five major areas of concern. First and foremost, one must have a great sense of mission, and a strong desire to turn everything that comes one’s way to good account. Secondly, one must be result-oriented, so that one is not just preoccupied with unceasing activities, but with a definite outcome of one’s efforts. Thirdly, one has to take stock of whatever knowledge and skills one has and bring out whatever is latent and waiting to be used, so that it can be tuned up to a peak of perfection. Very often, it is not so much a question of adding to one’s knowledge and skills as of developing what is already there - capacities of which we are sometimes barely aware. Frequently it is one’s initial sense of mission which taps these inner resources.
Sometimes it is impossible to achieve distant goals without the aid of one’s fellow-men, in which case one has to develop the capacity to inspire the team spirit in others. Particularly in highly competitive situations, it is essential to be able to encourage other competent people to make a significant contribution to one’s own performance.
But no one sails through life without bumping into obstacles and suffering a variety of setbacks. This is when one must beware of lapsing into passivity, when one has to take oneself firmly in hand and decide to look upon such things not as great gulfs from which one will never emerge, but simply as hurdles which have to be surmounted if one is to finish the race. One’s initial feeling of disappointment should quickly transform itself into a greater determination to try harder, to alter one’s approach, to seek different and better ways of achieving one’s goal, and to channel one’s energies more effectively towards their ultimate target.