The Four Stages of Success

failure-successIf you haven’t read Kenneth Blanchard’s One Minute Manager series, you should. Even though the first one was originally published twenty years ago, the books are still relevant today. In fact, I feel so strongly about Blanchard’s ideas that I’ve incorporated his four stages of development into my own business philosophy. Here’s a quick explanation of the four stages you should get familiar with if you’re starting something new:

Orientation: This is the first phase of your new project or endeavor. Your energy is high and you’re feeling positive. This positivity causes an interesting side affect, though—an initial lack of direction. If you have an unrealistic expectation of how easy success will be, you can’t properly plan for the challenges you’re sure to face.

Dissatisfaction: This is where you figure out that success isn’t as easy as you though it would be. This stage is the natural reaction to trying hard and meeting little success. Your energy drops and direction is still low. This is also where most people give up.

Resolution: This is where you finally achieve some success. Your energy is still low, but you have stronger direction because you’ve gained the skills you need and you’re finally able to envision a future for your new business or project. Some people still give up here, because they have a better idea of what it will take to succeed and they don’t have the energy or resources to pull it off. But those who do make it through the Resolution stage are usually equipped with a good plan for success.

Production: Aim to stay in this phase for as long as you can. This is where you start to achieve your goals. Your energy is high and so is your direction. Success follows success, until you’ve achieved something consistent and reliable. This stage is hard work, but it’s also a lot of fun.

Now that you understand the four stages of success, I’ll tell you the key to getting through them.

Lana and I often felt discouraged during the Dissatisfaction phase, but we followed Blanchard’s advice and clarified our purpose, worked with people who made us feel empowered, and learned to be more flexible. We also spent a lot of time with our mentors, who made recommendations and encouraged us. We followed their advice and kept working away and honing our skills. We met with a lot of different people and learned plenty. One of my key takeaways: looking like a gangster doesn’t open a lot of doors.

After lots of trial and error, we learned to be more effective and eventually found success. Looking back, I can confidently say that staying positive throughout each of the stages was the key to successfully reaching the Production stage. We also learned that we don’t have to wait for the Production stage to adopt the right attitude—it’s possible to keep our spirits up, our energy high, and our outlook positive, even when you’re struggling through the Dissatisfaction and Resolution stages.

Mahatma Gandhi sums it all up perfectly:

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”

18 thoughts on “The Four Stages of Success

  1. Perfect summary of the One Minute Manager. This would have been one of the first Leadership books I read back in the 80s. The principals helped me a lot in a self employed business I was running at the time.

    Your post has inspired me to dig out my old copy and read it again!

    Thanks Claude!

  2. Great post Claude
    I just read this to my son who is six. His response was ill keep a better attitude dad because in the end I will win!

    Thanks for sharing

  3. I do so respect how you keep on leading …. you dont stop…. that is truly a leader i will strive to become..

  4. Wow you must read minds Claude . That is a plain view for where some of the trip points are in any plan for success . Thanks so much for your wisdom .


  5. This was a nice little reminder, that we aren’t the only ones who sometimes feel discouraged. Your blog is so fantastic because it gives everyone a little opportunity to get see a bit of your heart.
    Coming out of a major convention weekend, with some new resolve, and some more energy to try again, is very promising and encouraging.
    Thank you both for leading from the front.

  6. Wow, my re-read list is growing fast… it will soon be bigger than my read list! I’ve figured out how to use Evernote to clip your post to my Reference Read Notebook… great stuff to pass on to the Team, and you’re right on with not waiting to adopt the right attitude, thanks!

  7. I read One Minute Manager when it first came out. His principles changed the way I did my profession. Thanks for framing for what we are doing today. Really enjoyed your session with Orrin Woodward this weekend.

    Thanks for leading the way.

  8. Great post Claude,
    and remarkable timing I might add. That book series is excellent and is a good reminder to revisit them soon myself. With all the awesome changes in Life Leadership, this blog serves as a great reminder that we need to work hard for the right reasons, in the right way and with the right people. I’m proud to be among the community that you and Lana worked so hard to develop. Keep leading from the front, we’re charging right behind you.

  9. Great blog Claude. I agree – you can definitely see the 4 stages at work in everything we do. Thanks for leading from the front, and persisting through the dissatisfaction stage. That decision to persist has been one that has touched many lives, and will continue to do so long into the future. Thank you.

  10. Hi Claude,

    Great article. These points of navigation are true in any business I have developed or witnessed. Attach a dream to get through the dissatisfaction and resolution stage and success will be there! And most defiantly make hay while the sun is shining and don’t slip back to a rainy day as attitude is everything as we’ve learned from you!

    God Bless

  11. Thanks, Claude for your continued teachings and leadership, and for sharing your stories of struggle and victory. The road becomes much easier to walk down, knowing you are following the footsteps of success! God Bless!

  12. Absolutely your right. Association is a key factor in pushing through self imposed limitations, and having people infusing courage in you regularly because of the belief that they have in you, that you can be great is essential in your pursuit of excellence. Being with people that work at keeping excellent positive attitude WILL 100% be one of the difference makers in whether or not you have success in life or not.

    And yes….looking like a gangster doesn’t open a lot of doors. LOL

  13. Fantastic Claude ….great overview of the book and thank you for taking the time to share with us. Definately knowing these pivotal points in business will help us on how to handle it.

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