Learning the secrets of success

The solution that leads to a successful outcome is often seen as simple and straightforward when inspected in hindsight. But, in the midst of seeking, the answer almost always seems very far away. Why is that?

I was running in the Dundas Valley forest last weekend and was struck with how hard the trails were. I have run them many times and it is always a fresh experience. As I was running up an endless set of hills, it occurred to me how easy it is to get off the track when faced with adversity. It’s been a windy route since Big Sur with many mountains climbed along the way. Below are a few photos from this year’s travels to go with the post.

Water Flowing in BC

It was a hot, humid day in the valley located in Dundas, Ontario and suffice to say a very hard Sunday morning run. I started later than usual and found myself tired before I took the first step along the 19k route that makes up the trail race Sulphur Springs. The fresh smell of the pine trees were fantastic and helped open everything up. Running in a forest like this can be a magical place of discovery and healing.

Despite the beauty of the forest, the run felt really hard. I have run it many times in the past and while there are definitely challenges on this route, today it was different. Successfully getting through the run and managing the mental games along the way was very powerful.

Biking in Stanley Park

To be successful at anything you need to start with action.

It is for sure a starting point. Take action.. Create a goal or a focal point to allow for measuring of where you are at and where you want to be. It really does not matter that much what the goal is but taking action is key. Expect it to be hard and fully embrace the hardness of it. It’s not going to be fun all of the time. It’s the journey that is most important…

So, start with taking some form of action and sprinkle on a dedication  and determination towards improving. It does not matter what. If running is your cup of tea, it could be simply to run without stopping. You get to set the bar and once you reach the finish line, new doors open up and the bar gets moved “higher”.

A stone lion in Stanley Park

Part of the problem to cracking the code of success is the inherent narrowing and limiting nature of grasping.  Asking questions when it get hard are way of coping and establishing barriers that do not truly exists. They tend to separate and divide.  Question arise and float away along this process.

What am I doing this for? Does it really even matter? Should I be doing this?

These are part of this path and are important to consider. I previously wrote about being the barrier, and that is key to unlocking this door.


In this game of mastery, we are not always ready and willing to be a player.  And, the timing is rarely good when these moments arise. Very often, in those moments one one can find the most opportunity to grow.  Embracing them can be a fantastic guide along this path! Most of us do not — and probably should not — seek them out, it is important to be ready and willing to work hard when they arrive.

I thought I would share some additional lessons that running and this path of learning has taught me over the past decade. Some of these are quite hard earned. Is there any other way? I call them key moments or turning points! It was not in what was accomplished that ultimately matters, but how it was done that opened the way to success.

Blooing in Spring

Welcome the mistakes…

Be open and excited when you make mistakes. Mistakes are the only way we learn and not being open to them short circuits the learning process. I have summarized below the process one needs to follow on this “easy” path of mastery:

  • Make mistakes
  • Take action to learn from them
  • Work hard and be resolved to not make the same mistake again.
  • Repeat…

This is a simple feedback loop that over time allows for refinements and many beautiful plateaus along the way. Where we all too often get caught and miss the opportunity is when we assign responsibility for failure. Love the plateaus that come along for they are not failures but places from which we thrive. One key way to do this is to celebrate small moments. The ripples in the pond. The sound of a woodpecker echoing in the forest.

Celebrate the small moments

Be sure to take time to celebrate the moments that you worked hard at and were able to navigate. Sometimes it comes at the top of a big climb. Other times it is working late to accomplish a key task at work.

Lately, I have been helping work on a project with the Hearty Baker. There is a totally awesome cookie delivery service in Canada called Better Cookies.ca that makes amazing inexpensive cookie gifts. The recipes took a good part of 10 years for them to make while exploring a wide range of ingredients and vegan baking. There is a funny story that I had trying the Oatmeal raisin cookie that was posted on Facebook while on a long run.  Better Cookies.ca delivers spectacular cookie boxes all over Canada and also locally delivers gourmet cookie gram and bouquet gifts in Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, Mississauga, Dundas, Stoney Creek and across the Toronto area. These cookies make amazing gifts for everyone and are loved by omnivores, vegans and vegetarians.

This path has offered many plateaus along the way. It is really remarkable and heartwarming to hear about how many people send cookie gifts as a small or sometimes a very big gesture of thanks.  Being a small part in sending out these waves of gratitude is awesome.

Don’t pass the buck, take responsibility…

When we fail, it is all too easy to “pass the buck” so as to not to have to face the raw experience of it all. Sadly, if we blame someone else or something else we lose in such a grander way. We double down on the failure in the moment by not seizing the bull by its horns. In doing so we give away our opportunity to grow. We lose our opportunity to get better. And, ultimately we lose the ability to actually accomplish the thing we set out to do.

I had many opportunities just like this in the past that have been missed. Many involve sport in some way and the inability to follow these simple steps meant I never truly learned and grew from them. However, there is simply no value in dwelling on these either (as they no longer exist) apart from recognizing how they influence you in the present moment.

I am grateful for the opportunity to not repeat them again.

Water flowing in a forest. Watch out for Dragons!

So next time a failure is in front of you, stop and hear that opportunity knocking. Wake up to it!

Intend to make the most of it in the moment and let it become a seed. Care for the seedling that sprouts and enjoy watching it grow into the tree of mastery.

Last week, a bird came knocking at my window.
In need of a helping hand, water was flowing freely.
With eyes opened and eyes closed,
I was happy to see him fly away…

The sun shone brightly on this little one and I am thankful for this.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Smile.

 Listen to the opportunity knocking

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