Trick Yourself to Succeed

I have accomplished some very interesting and diverse goals over the years and many people see me as a courageous risk-taker. Actually, the opposite is true, because as a business strategist, I carefully plan every move. Whenever I need to take on an objective that is really challenging, I use a technique called the “success trap” to get started and stay on track. In a word or two, here are the top four success traps that have worked for my clients and me. For a full explanation and example of each, keep reading.

Top 4 Success Traps
  1. Give yourself 50 years
  2. Partner Up
  3. Immerse Yourself
  4. Offer a million dollars
50 years

I worked my way through college at night over a 9-year period and continued my education to complete an MBA, also at night, over the next 2 years. And as great as that sounds now, it was so daunting that I almost did not want to start. On my way to register for classes, I was listening to talk radio and a man called in who was on his way to his 50th High School reunion. It struck me profoundly that life is long and that no goal worth achieving can happen overnight. At that moment, I released any concern about how long it would take me to earn a degree and simply took it one day at a time. Taking only a few classes a semester, while I worked full-time, turned out to have added benefit. I was able to apply the lessons from each class to the projects I was assigned at my job. By the time I graduated, I was a well-respected leader in my organization. This all occurred well ahead of schedule since I had given myself to my 50th High School reunion to meet my educational goals. And, I still have time for a Ph.D.

Partner Up

At 38, I opened my own business after 15 years of working in Corporate America. It was a tough decision which satisfied my thirst for new and interesting challenges. Since I had never operated a small business I partnered with others to incorporate my business, set up bank accounts, lease space, obtain insurance and create a website. Luckily for me, I was surrounded by a supportive network of people eager to see me succeed. My husband had a real estate business and generously shared all of his knowledge, vendors, and office space to help me get started. Because of this assistance from my network I was able to quickly focus on the work I did best and enjoy the stimulation of coaching a customer base from diverse industries. More recently, I used my partnership with Xavier Creative House to create a new logo, icon, tagline, collateral, social media headers and a new website. I could not have done any of this alone. So the next time you tell yourself that something is impossible, just separate out the parts you can do and begin identifying resources around you to help you do the rest. You might be surprised at how much possibility exists within your network.


I started teaching physical fitness at 43, became a snowboard instructor at 48 and ran my first 5K at 50. None of these goals was in my business plan but being active and vital is an important part of my life. I immersed myself in these endeavors just as much as my coaching and writing work. Knowing what motivates you is a good way to become successful in an area that is a stretch. The highest stimulation that exists for me in both business and personal life is helping others. I have completed formal behavioral assessments that prove this to be my key driver. Knowing this about myself enables me to create a success trap. I just need to identify how my effort will help someone important to me. Hence, the 5K. In all my years of athletics, I have never run. Recently, a favorite colleague was training for a 5K. We spoke about it often and joked about her using the “Couch to 5K” training program on her smart phone. Admiring her courage to take on this goal, I decided to keep her company on a few runs. I stuck with it and we signed up for the next 5K together. Knowing what inspires you is the key to setting up a “success trap”, essentially tricking yourself into doing something you wouldn’t normally do. If you are having a hard time figuring out what motivates you in the first place, try this trick.

Offer a Million

Sometimes a little humor helps to get us out of our own way. Whenever my son tells me he cannot do something I ask him, “What if I gave you a million dollars to do it…. could you figure it out?” I used this technique with a colleague who lost a job offer because of a late arrival for the interview. The candidate told the hiring manager that an accident halted traffic and the delay was unavoidable. In trying to explain how accepting accountability was the only way to react in this situation, I used the million-dollar success trap. I asked, “Would you have done anything differently to arrive on time if there was a bag with a million dollars waiting for you at the destination?” The reply was immediate and thorough. Here are the options that magically appeared.

  1. Take a train to avoid traffic
  2. Plan the arrival time two hours early to account for delays.
  3. Drive to the site the night before and stay with a friend.

Point made. We are always accountable if we accept responsibility for our life. Moreover, putting a task into a new perspective can help you come up with possibilities for achieving something that you previously thought was out of your scope of control. Therefore, whether it takes a million dollars to motivate you or you can come up with something intrinsic to powerfully call you to action and performance, keep the success trap as your new favorite strategy. I hope these tricks gets you started on that path and if you need help, consider my services.

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