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Being successful in your life: What does that mean?

December 13, 2019

What does it take to be successful?

How will you know when you get there?

Well….firstly, what if?….

What if… success is what you make it?

These are all questions to consider if you are looking at wanting to be more successful in your life – even if that means; getting employment, feeling better within yourself, starting your business, having a more active life, having healthier thoughts or living a healthy life – whatever the next step in success is for you, there’s probably a way through that someone, for example; a researcher, or a therapist, or a coach has come up with that could support you on your next step.

The first step is that it’s imperative to consider some research and information to take in – what is it that makes some people more successful than others?

Stephen Covey (1989), from his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People suggests it’s the following things – moving from dependence, to independence to interdependence. In addition, then it’s working on the following 7 habits: 1. Being proactive, 2. Beginning with the end in mind, 3. Put first things first, 4. Think Win/Win, 5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood, 6. Synergise and, finally, 7. Sharpen the saw – for renewal and continual improvement – in addition to these items, successful people move initially from dependence, to independence to interdependence (Covey, 1989). This is exactly what practitioners in the field – working with humans, in the helping professions need to do to be successful. Having a trainer, mentor, a supervisor, or a coach can really support you to get you to your next stage.

In other words, truly successful people know that they need other people to succeed.

They cannot succeed on their own.

Over the past 17 years of working with people in the community, with therapists, being a coach and teaching the next generation of professionals, I’ve learned a great deal from hearing client and practitioner stories of their lives.

What has this work taught me?

It’s taught me what success looks like in therapy and coaching – and in life in general. Being a privileged observer for so long in client’s lives has given me a unique opportunity to witness through their eyes what it takes to be successful at tasks, life, or a goal that they may set for themselves.

Success often comes from overcoming obstacles, grit and tenacity (Coyle, 2009). As well, finding what you like doing, that creates a space where time stands still – where you are in ‘the zone’, or ‘in flow’, can give you indications of what you may do best at and where you may succeed (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). When we are in flow, time stands still and we find our groove (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). The old adage ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ is true, though, more to the point, time is not important when you’re in the right zone and flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990).

In addition, in training therapists, that’s also taught me how people learn.

So, humans, according to Training Industry (2019), have four stages of competence when learning new skills. These four stages of competency are; 1) Unconscious incompetence, 2) Conscious incompetence, 3) Conscious competence and 4) Unconscious competence (Training Industry, 2019).

The internet is filled with people who are unconsciously incompetence, unfortunately. They literally don’t know what they don’t know. This can make it hard for learned professionals and others to ‘cut through the white noise’. So, as a result of this, I’m seeing a rise in coaches and therapists providing services in ways that they shouldn’t and could inadvertently cause harm to clients – unbeknownst to the practitioner and their client.

Learning is therefore important in the right conditions and for the right reasons. With the courses that I have developed for my company Australian Online Therapy Training (AOTT) Pty Ltd, they have been designed for practitioners in the field to gain valuable information, skills and practice so that safe spaces can be held for clients online.

Why do I provide these courses?

It was only as a client I learned first hand that harm can be caused to the client. It was through a painful experience with a therapist that I found out that I could personally be harmed, even online.

Therefore, we need to be aware that ALL of us can potentially cause harm to our clients. Online therapy or coaching is not ‘just an easy option’. We still need to be giving good service and knowing how we need to attend to clients in the online space, so that clients are not harmed.

There are important factors in human learning that needs to take place in order to learn and have growth. Some of this can come down to resilience factors, and other aspects can come to grit and the ability to push yourself to the edge of your abilities, which Coyle (2009) suggests is the key ingredient that determines talent.

In summary, success is what you make it. Finding your flow, pushing yourself to the edges of your abilities and getting help when you need it helps you be more successful in whatever pursuit you undertake – whether that be; work, life, relationships, health, or any other goals you have set for yourself.


Covey, S.R. (1989). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Powerful lessons in personal change. Free Press.

Coyle, D. (2009). The talent code: Greatness isn’t born. It’s grown. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. Harper & Row.

Training Industry. (2019). Four stages of competence. Training Industry website. Retrieved from

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