By Janet Walgren
There is a saying, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got.” One of the most important components in the formula for success is understanding what causes what we are getting. Aristotle taught that we never really know a thing until we know it by its cause. And, knowing something by its cause is very different than placing blame.
Sterling W. Sill wrote, “If you can find out what causes happiness, you can reproduce the cause. One of the most important reasons for failure is that we don’t take time to make a proper analysis in building up our lives or our businesses or our faith, we need to know a lot more about why things happen than we ordinarily do. And if we are going to make them happen to satisfy us, we must be able to accurately weigh the factors involved. We must have a good understanding of the reasons, the motivations, the purposes, and the causes of things,” Making the Most of Ourselves, pg.65.
Most people desire, hope, and dream of extraordinary success in some area of life, yet relatively few ever find it. Why not? It is interesting to read a cook book. If you look in the bread or pastry section, the ingredients are almost the same for every cake, pastry, or loaf of bread. So what makes the difference? The difference is in the amount of each ingredient that you use and how you put them together. If we want to make a pastry that will satisfy us, we must be able to accurately weigh the ingredients, put them together in just the right way, and bake it at just the right temperature.
When I wanted to learn how to make whole wheat bread, I asked a friend to show me how. I asked her because her bread was so delicious and much lighter than the whole wheat bread that my other friends could make. I watched closely as my friend demonstrated how to make the bread, and then I tried to replicate her effort. My first loaf turned out like a brick. My friend just laughed; she told me that the water I used was too hot and so it had killed the yeast. She then painted flowers on my pitiful loaf of bread and gave it back to me to use as a door stop.
Each time I looked at the doorstop, I laughed and remembered the cause of my failure. Note: my failure was not because the water that “I” used was too hot… it was because “the water” that I used “was too hot.” Because I had learned what caused my failure, my subsequent efforts were successful and I was able to make whole wheat bread to satisfy me and reproduce the success time after time.
The elements in my success were desire, proper ingredients, application, practice and a mentor. If it were not for my mentor, I would have continued to make bricks out of bread dough just like my other friends did. We all had the same recipe, we were all using the same ingredients, and we were all adding the ingredients in the same order. But when it came to making whole wheat bread, the hands of a master made the difference.
For those of you who don’t make bread, a better analogy might be playing the violin. The difference between the noise of a struggling pupil and the music of a master violinist such as Itzhak Perlman is either painfully or pleasantly obvious. After a student is more, even very much more accomplished, the difference between the student’s music before being mentored by a great master and after being mentored by a great master is also very obvious although not so painful.
Take time to make a proper analysis of the things that you want in life. Find out more about why things happen. If you are going to make them happen in a way that will satisfy you, you must be able to accurately weigh the factors involved. Find a mentor who has a good understanding of the reasons, the motivations, the purposes, and the causes of things wherein you want success. And, then with the desire, proper ingredients, application, and practice you will be able to reproduce your mentor’s success time after time after time.