Success is simple
The only way to succeed is to continuously improve. The Japanese have a name for it: Kaizen.
And Kaizen is all about consistency.
If you’ll forgive/indulge me, let’s use me, and this photo, as the vehicle for this discussion here.
It’s probably evident even from the above low res version of this photo that yes, this might be a nice image, difficult to capture, etc., etc. (A high quality version of this photo is available HERE). And yes, of course I was happy it got 1st place in this competition 🙂 But let’s focus (excuse the photographic pun!) on the process, rather than the prize.
I don’t play the lottery. I believe we have to create our own luck. But if you do want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket. Every week. You have to get in –and stay in- the arena.
I managed to get this successful photo because I invested thousands of hours, thousands of $’s, to take thousands of other photos that were essentially comparative failures. (Thank goodness for the advent of digital photography, which significantly reduced my slide film processing bill!). But I was willing to pay the price and continued shooting because I was motivated by a goal (in this case, of competition).
And there are endless examples in our wild world, of this phenomenon.
As I speak about in my Thriving in a Wild World™: Success Secrets from Africa’s Big Cats™ keynotes, staying consistent, persistent and persevering is the difference between thriving and not surviving, in the face of competition. Africa’s Big Cats live in a brutally competitive environment. For each of the big cats, this impala, for instance, is a hugely popular item on the menu. All the big cats love to prey on this ‘rooibok’ antelope, which constitutes a major proportion of each of the Big Cat species’ diet. So all Africa’s big cats are hunting in the same ‘market’. And the big cats’ success rate is, believe it or not, surprisingly poor. Even lions, the apex African carnivore, fail more than they succeed. Lions’ kill rate is only one out of three actual hunts. But the Big Cats are not deterred by failure. They keep going. They persist. They stay consistent. They repeat the basics. They keep hunting. They stay in the arena.
I’m a big believer in the merits of competition. I speak every week around the globe on how it pulls everyone in -and often even out of- the arena to stretch themselves and elevate their performance. It keeps EVERYONE on their toes, on point, at peak performance, and leaves no room for complacency. Competition fuels success. It is a catalyst to Kaizen.
So if I’m to be authentic and have integrity as a speaker and as a human being, I have to practice what I preach and walk my talk.
I love speaking. It’s what I do and I enjoy every minute. And I love my hobby of photographing wildlife. As a speaker, you’re stretched and kept on your toes all the time because every keynote, every audience, every context is a new challenge. As a wildlife photographer, every sighting presents different circumstances, different lighting conditions, different animal behaviors to understand and master. And to photograph wildlife also requires serious logistic gymnastics, dedication and time… lots and lots of time! So, because my travel these days is necessarily (and –don’t get me wrong- thankfully) mostly to conference venues to speak rather than to the bushveld to photograph, it’s important to create the time to still stay consistent with my wildlife photography, and to continually stay in the competition arena like this to keep stretching myself…
So the path to success is actually a choice. Not rocket science. Not nepotism. Not lottery luck. Just staying in the arena. Just staying consistent and persistent. Just staying committed to Kaizen, in everything.
Success might not be easy. But it is simple.
And there are a few simple, controllable keys. Like consistency.
And EVERYONE and ANYONE can choose to be consistent.
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Lorne Sulcas - The Big Cat Guy