A 7 Step No-Waffle Plan for Real World Success

real world success

Working in the personal growth niche, I am unfortunately subjected to a lot of waffle masquerading as professional advice.

Some of these wafflers may be better business people than I am – some certainly charge others big dollars to see them waffle – but regardless, they are blatantly spouting waffle and it’s just about criminal in my opinion.

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For example, the other week I was visiting the office of a company I do some work for, and I happened to walk into the middle of a staff meeting. There was a consultant there who after looking very pensive and listening intently with a furrowed brow (ok he probably used his ears to listen, but let’s not get technical) eventually spoke up to tell the employees who he was and what he was there to do.

He first explained that he would be ‘floating around’ the office for a couple of weeks ‘getting a feel for the place’. Ok makes sense so far but as a fellow human being I knew straight away that this was an awesome way to get the staff on the back foot from the get-go.

He might as well have said “Ok everyone, I am going to be snooping and spying on you, and probably irritating you with my own unsolicited opinions on how you should be doing your work and then I am going to go back to your boss and tell them which people I think should be fired.”

The Art of Speaking Without Communicating

However, to his credit, at least this was not strictly waffle – double-speak maybe – but not actual waffle.

But, mark my words, there was waffle yet to come (which was a shame, actual Danish waffles on the other hand, would have been a much more enthusiastically received).

He went on to explain in great detail what it is that he does for organizations in his role as a consultant. He used countless wonderfully witty words, some nifty sounding jargon, many spiffy catch-phrases and an array of very expressive hand gestures – but only one sentence.

One looooong, winding sentence that made no sense at all.

I seriously didn’t understand a word of it and by the end wondered if I might have accidental dropped a random tab of acid because he might as well have been speaking Swahili for all I knew. I asked around afterwards and nobody else knew what his gushing platitudes meant either. He still got paid though, and handsomely, so kudos to the Waffleman … I suppose.

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I also read a lot of personal growth articles, and as I’m sure you know, they aren’t all created equal. I read one the other day by a very high-profile author and workshop presenter whose main recipe for success in life goes something like the following:

“Learn how to bend reality by manipulating your metaphysical connection to the Great Supra-consciousness in the sky and then sit back and enjoy the Magic as it unfurls and fills your current physical-plane incarnation.”

Now that may be pretty common advice these days – but it is also waffle. Popular, profitable, manipulative, time-wasting, empty rhetoric.

So here is an antidote to this kind of fluff.

The No-Waffle Plan for Real World Success

Please Note: This plan should be read with the understanding that “success” is a word that means different things to different people.

1. Decide what you want

Create a vision of what you want out of life. Write it down, make a dream-board, or a mind-movie – whatever you feel BUT make sure it is an authentic dream not something that you are going to want to change all the time.

Take your time about this – but not a decade. Choose a target and go for it. You CAN change later if you need to – and you probably will – just don’t be flip-flopping left-right-and-centre like an indecisive, suffocating fish.

Oh, and I recommend that you read up on Curly’s Law to help you decide what you want, which also leads me to the next point …

2. Focus

Now that you have your Vision – write a simple One Page Plan outlining how you think you might get there. (You can write a complicated, 100 page plan if you want, but this is my list and I won’t have a bar of that – see “7 Reasons to Set Fire to Your Career Plan”).

Check that plan regularly. If it is nice and simple then it should be lodged into your brain before too long.

3. Act (AKA Work)

Break the plan down into Big Rocks – which is productivity jargon for the actions that you can choose to do (out of many) that will move you closest to your goals. Make sure you do as many of them as you can everyday (without burning out) and always check that they actually are important, effective actions – not just busy-ness for its own sake.

Unfortunately, for I am a truly Lazy Dude who would much prefer to do very little, there seems to be this weird rule that no amount of waffling affirmations can get around. The rule is: No Pain, No Gain.

I love Jerry Seinfeld and I heard him get asked by a journalist once what his secret for aspiring comedians was. Jerry just laughed (in a very sardonic, God-I-am-just-so-rich kind of way) and said “Just work. That’s it. Just work.”

4. Persist

The biggest mistake I repeatedly made in my first 30 years of life was lacking persistence.

I was always busy looking for the shortcuts to success – which I never found (hint: they don’t exist). Now I look back and know that if I had stuck to the Long Way Around – I would be there by now.

Some of the lamest, most talentless dorks I know have amazing careers and are very wealthy just because they were still persisting long after everybody else quit. Some people who started yoga at the same time that I started dabbling in it ten years ago are rubber-band-flexible yoga teachers now. I quit after a year or so and then started again last month to discover that I have become even more like an uncooked piece of pasta than I suspected.

When I had the dubious pleasure of working in advertising sales I learned an old sales cliché that really helped me:

“Every time you get a ‘No’ you are one call closer to a ‘Yes’.”

Bear that in mind when the first go fails. And don’t act all surprised when it does because of course the first go will probably fail. So will the second. And probably the third too. It’s go number X – the one that works – that counts.

Remember: the world doesn’t owe you squat. You have to earn what you need and want.

5. Develop Selective Deafness

If you are going to go for it, there will always be those (often those closest) who will knock your dreams down every chance they get.

Don’t listen to them.

When you hear positive, constructive criticism, listen up and listen up good, but when you hear a knocker – switch off. These people are limited by their own insecure minds; you don’t need to listen to them and to do so would be a mistake.

I saw this written another way somewhere else lately as “Be a contrarian”. In other words – Zag when every body else is Zigging. When people say: “you can’t do it that way”, you should reply “Just you watch me.”

6. Follow Through

There’s no point saying “watch me” if everybody watches just to see you skulk back off to your bedroom.

Either keep your grand plans to yourself or make sure you follow through and do what you say you’re going to do. Otherwise people will lose faith in you and you’ll be seen as nothing but the “Dreamer Who Cried Wolf”.

7. Play Nice

The truth is this last tip won’t actually make much difference. People say it does but that’s just waffle. Look around – there are some pretty nasty, greedy, callus people at the top of the heap. We all know they didn’t get there by being friendly little pussycats.

But is that what you want to be like? I know it’s not for me, and I hope for the sake of this world, that it’s not for you either. Think about what you do and say and how it affects others. Is money and power worth the human and environmental cost of a selfish, uncaring act?

Dude, I don’t like waffle, but I’d sooner swallow more of that distasteful fluff than carry on like some of the nasty, misguided fools I see on the TV news…

38 thoughts on “A 7 Step No-Waffle Plan for Real World Success”

  1. Hi Seamus: This makes a lot of sense. Decide what you want and keep your eye on the ball, moving toward your dreams slowly and steadily despite naysayers. And I immediately recognized the consultant you talk about at the beginning of this post, he would come around often when I worked for the Panama Canal Authority :-)

  2. #4 Persist.

    Such a simple tip, but one that most of us have failed to do time and time again. Like you said, if we would just stick to something we would ‘be there by now’.

    Excellent post, Seamus! Eric.

  3. @Marelisa – that consultant gets around doesn’t he? At least he works hard! credit where credit is due ;-)

    @Eric – yes persistence is a challenge – we are brought up in a world that forgets to teach us these kinds of concepts cos it’s too busy waving fools gold in our faces…

  4. I love how most of your points are about action and work. I’m tired of hearing how if you love what you do success will come without hard work. Even if you love something, it’s work – like writing. I love it but I would be lying if I tried to say that writing a novel wasn’t one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

    Yay Sean!

    1. Yeah I wrote a novel (whether it was good or not is besides the point) but it was six months full time work and I pretty much had a drinking problem by halfway through.

      Ok MORE of a drinking problem ;-)

  5. Persistence is a key ingredient to success. By not giving up and keep on moving to our goals, we will definitely reach our goal.

    Personal Development Blogger

  6. Maria | Never the Same River Twice

    I work around a lot of consultants, and I am completely amazed by what comes out of their mouths sometimes! And people pay them large amounts of money to spout that nonsense!

    Funny, true article with good action items. Stumbled & Dugg.

  7. You write good stuff. The self help world is full of self hype. People get caught in the high expectation game without the understanding of real work involved. It’s a set up for disappointment, frustration, and feeling like a failure even though there is nothing wrong with them.

    1. Dude that is my number one beef with the Self Help scene – gurus who claim impossible levels of success and self-discipline which the average person will never achieve. This just sets you up to feel crap and leads you on to your next self help purchase.

      That’s why I got into this game because I thought imagine if there was a personal development dude who admitted they drink like a fish, and get everything wrong all the time … hey that’s me!

  8. The Law of Distraction – hee hee, I love it. It’s really true, some people use the Law of Attraction to distract themselves from the fact that their active participation is required if they want to create or achieve anything.

    Great stuff.

    1. Basically LOA is point one, but there is more too it. You need to get real as well. In actual fact most LOA books point this out but still I think it’s become a big over blown case of Magic Bulletitis

  9. The one great thing about the economic downturn is how many of those waffling consultants will not be getting gigs next year. Sure the HR ones who pretend to be increasing efficiency,but are really there to cut heads, will have jobs. Still the ones that make you sit through 3-4 days of what you so eloquently call “waffling” and make you do all kinds of silly exercises to improve productivity or communication make me nuts. I know I am a far better speaker and presenter than most of the consultants I’ve sat through, but I have never considered going down that path. I have yet to attend a workshop like that which has had any true lasting results in the workplace.

    Anyway, loved all of your points. This whole success thing is actually pretty simple, hard to do, but simple to comprehend :-)

  10. Love your points 2 and 3. So much that I named my company Focus Consulting Inc several years ago and my blog is called StopDoingNothing AKA Act!

    Keep up the great work. I’ll start picking you on RSS.

  11. Seamus,
    Thanks for the article. I particularly like #5, Practice Selective Deafness. It’s amazing how many of us get stopped by criticism (constructive or not) that we perceive to be negative. There’s another great article on my site titled “None of Your Business” which addresses this topic and how transcend negative feedback.

    Keep up the great work.


  12. My wife makes great waffles, but I digress…

    #5 is the big one for me. When I informed a few people I was going to start a blog some of them asked why? I’m ignoring those people, they’ll understand in a few years. Just like you and your yoga.

    Thanks for a great article.

    1. Those people who doubt your decision to start a blog would most likely doubt anything else you decide to do that isn’t average Joe type behaviour. I have the same thing around me in my family too unfortunately. You just gotta stick it to the man and do it anyway – but sounds like you are so good on you I say.

  13. Fantastic advice, and words that definitely strike a chord with me. I’m a fairly look-on-the-bright-side person by nature, but I do get dismayed with how much pap masquerades as real, solid advice.

    Your seven tips are ones I wish I’d read a few years ago! I’m on my way towards where I want to be, but I, like many others, have wasted too much time looking for “quick fixes” and simply wandering down blind paths because I had no goal in mind.

  14. Funny, I was just thinking about this topic this morning, like word for word.

    Can I sum this up in two points?

    1) Decide what you want.

    2) Make every other decision in your life based upon number 1.

    This is universal, and accurate. If your values place being decent to decent people in a place of importance (and I hope they do), you’ve got number 7 above covered, if not, so be it. Everything else is in there by necessity.

    I’d be happy to hear counter-examples.

  15. To be honest, this post seems like waffle to me. Simply because advice is advice, whether good or bad. And this article is advice, and as such is subject to the same scrutiny as any other advice. To parade this advice as the counter to “waffle” is pretentious and speaks volumes on your ego. Here are my reasons:

    1. When listening to your prologue about this consultant you openly admit to ignorance of what he was talking about. That you recognized someone’s catch phrases but did not recognize the content of their conversation says that you are probably not as smart as you think you are. It basically comes down to you writing a couple of paragraphs that sound to me like, “Man, this guy, he was so dumb. Man, how dumb he was. He was dumb. And he kept talking, oh man! So dumb.” Also, in your story you were neither the boss nor the person the boss hired to consult on better business practices, which gives you a nice little bias from the get go. It doesn’t help that you rag on someone with the power to get you fired by writing very little substance.

    2. You read a lot of personal growth articles.

    3. Any advice that an individual bothers to listen is going to be interpreted by that individual in a manner unique to them. Thus, even bad advice can be interpreted in a manner that helps that individual. Sure, personal growth articles help some people, but at most those articles function as an arrow in a certain direction, rather than an all-inclusive turn-key method for anyone and everyone. The fact is that people are different and not all advice works for everyone.

    4. I can’t believe this got dugg as much as it did.

  16. An awesome post and no fluff! I really agree with what you have said, and the importance of writing down goals or having a vision board is super important, yet so many people will not do even the simple things like that. It’s interesting that the minority who do the simple things, get all the rewards that the majority won’t.

  17. I loved the introduction! And of course, read through everything. :)

    The point on persistence made whole lot of sense. It takes a whole lot of effort to not get affected by everyone else whom might either quit or lose interest in what they started off doing initially.

    You sure do write really awesome there Seamus!

  18. Here is the only success advice that a person ever needs;

    “Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration.” & “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” – Thomas Edison.

    Ultimately it comes down to if one talks the talk or if one walks the walk.

  19. A Seven Step Waffle Plan for Real Success

    1. Close lid to waffle iron and plug in.
    2. Beat eggs well in medium mixing bowl. Add flour, buttermilk, baking powder, baking soda, salt and butter and mix until just combined.
    3. Check waffle iron to be sure it is hot. Open lid of waffle iron.
    4. Using a measuring cup, pour about 1 c. batter into bottom of waffle iron. Close Lid.
    5. Let waffle cook until steam no longer comes out of waffle iron or until waffle is light brown and slightly crisp.
    6. Add deliciously delectable condiments such as Maple Syrup, Butter, Cut Fruit, Fruit Syrup, Chocolate Syrup, Powdered Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Ice Cream, or Whipped Cream. (probably not all at once though)
    7. Eat delicious waffles. Breakfast in bed perhaps. Share with family, friends, and business associates.

  20. Great post, read the whole thing and it’s very inspiring. Number 5 really hit home for me cause I realized that I’ve been one on those negative type of people and you are so right that it’s insecurity. Dugg!

  21. You lay it all out so simply and elegantly. Thanks! I even checked out Curly’s law and got the ebook. Focus. It’s only recently that i’ve heard people talking about how wasteful multi-tasking is. I used to think I needed to practice multi-tasking to get better at it! Now, I know to knock it off altogether: Do one thing.

  22. Here there!

    That’s really a great post and I enjoyed reading that!! I’m particularly a fan of Step 4, I once wrote an article that persistence is good because simply, you can’t beat it! The amount of things I’ve learned through shear persistence is incredible! There is no substitute for that and just doing it!

    I disagree with you on point 5 and 6 and 6 contradict each other slighty. I listen to my critics and say thank you! I see them as a gift to either make me more dertermined or stronger and you’re absolutely right when you say ‘just watch me do it’ and that is one of the healthiest attitudes to have! Failure doesn’t matter as you done it and failed which is much better than not ever doing and never knowing!

    Great article though and fab read!


  23. very awesome article. I agree with several of the people above about persistence being one of the greatest ingredients. I cant think back and remember times where my persistence is what got me through the door or to the next level. :)

    AJ Kumar

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