One of the things I noticed when reading through some of the stories of really successful people is the ability to follow through appropriately. Usually, there is some driving force that makes following through easier for some than others, but following through nonetheless put them over the top.
I was reminded of this during one of my chess games today with the retired expert, Mr. Inn. We were locked into one of those tense games, with a good flow to it. He made a mistake and I pounced a d he was under pressure for the middle game and deep into the end game after giving away a piece for free. But due to a late blunder on my part – I didn’t follow through correctly on my mating pattern – allowed him to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
So what does that have to do with following through? Well, on my end, had I not tried to be stubborn about my plan, and stepped back to reassess the position, I would have won convincingly. Mr. Inn however, kept his head on a swivel and was always looking for the chance to pounce on a mistake.
True, we often hear that we should power through things in order to achieve success. Show grit; take risks; be bold; rise above adversity, blah blah blah. But following through appropriately allows us to do all those things in an optimal way. It’s not just enough to have a plan. It’s not good enough not to crack under pressure. It’s also about the ability to follow through once a decision is made – whether to change a plan, make an adjustment or stay the course.
Sometimes things get in the way that can make it hard to follow-up in the manner that is required. Sometimes we are flat-out scared to follow through because we know exactly what the consequences are and just don’t want to deal with them. But, we often forget that we are more than capable of handling whatever comes our way. Many of those who are uber successful will tell you they had a goal or dream, turned it into attainable objectives and followed through by achieving those objectives. Yes, there were times of both failure and adversity, but it helped make them better, putting them closer to their goals.
Even those who like to cut corners to consume the glitz of success without all the “hard work” have to be good at following through – after all, they couldn’t be truly shady if they didn’t put action to thought to achieve their nefarious aims.
Fortunately for us all, the art of following through is a skill that can be learned over time. Practice does take perfect. Just as Mr. Inn is in my ear about studying seriously to go play in a tournament, so too must we all put in the work needed to develop the skill of following through.
The biggest thing that makes us human is our ability to learn. It’s either we learn to follow through appropriately, or people learn that we are not reliable or responsible for our actions.