On Italy’s Ligurian Coast sit a string of five colorful small fishing villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso – wedged between the larger and better known coastal cities of Genoa and La Spezia. Accessible only to the outside world in 1890 by train and in the 1960’s by road, these villages have been in operation since the middle ages. Villagers made their living by the sea and by harvesting grapes, lemons, olives, basil and other items they grew on their steep terraced gardens sitting on the cliffs hanging above the lands that looked over the Mediterranean.
That these lands existed at all for so many hundreds of years was a miracle. They have only recently been identified as desirable tourist destinations – and still maintain their charm today. I vacationed this summer within the quaint village of Riomaggiore, with its yellow, pink and salmon-colored homes with matching terra cotta roofs built on the steep mountainous ridges of the Italian coastline. Below the town are huge crashing waves and turquoise sparkling waters bordered by white pebbly beaches.
These villages that make up the Cinque Terre – translated from Italian to mean five lands – are a metaphor we can use to discover the five lands we each need to visit, familiarize ourselves and conquer to realize a true measure of success in our lives. Just as the Italians have been diligent about requesting help from the outside world to reclaim this territory and enable it to flourish as families have dispersed throughout the years, heading to the bigger cities for fame and fortune – we need to consciously explore the lands that lead to our success: Contribution, Confidence, Creativity, Courage and Commitment.
Why are these five lands of such importance to individual success? When we consider any measure of accomplishment, it is certain that positive results arose as a result of claiming these aspects – or in our metaphor – lands.
To forge a particular “contribution” in business one has to be focused and aware of one’s particular strengths. Often people who are questioning the meaning of their jobs or have been asked to leave their current job or organization are faced with the challenge of identifying “what I want to do when I grow up. ” It is at these junctures that we need to delve deeply to look at patterns that inform us about what would be most satisfying to us.
We can enter this territory through the passageway of strengths, making a list of our greatest accomplishments and identifying the strengths that we must have called on to reach our results or we may ask those who have been close to us in business or other discourse to report on the strengths they most admire in us.
Many of my clients create matrixes or charts, exploring the interface between their favored strengths and career opportunities they’ve become aware of in their field or outside of it.
Whatever the process used to identify the contribution they most want to engage in as they go forward in their careers, it is important to visit this territory and identify the most ideal possibilities.
Just as the lands of the Cinque Terre in Italy are dependent on each other for the flow of tourists and the maintenance of the hiking trails that extend behind them through the auspices of the Italian recreation service, the five lands that our success traveler visits on the way to his or her career destination are intricately connected.
Through an understanding of one’s strengths and achievements, one can begin to appreciate the unique stamp the person brings to the world. This understanding and appreciation can surely boost one’s confidence. Confidence is a firm belief in one's powers, abilities, or capacities.
The stronger a person feels about this issue, the more likely he or she is apt to stretch and take on seemingly challenging tasks. It is important, therefore, to continue to find ways to build one’s confidence, either through hearing others speak in glowing terms about you or to remember continuously what the stuff is you are made of – by reminding yourself about your achievements. It’s as if you scaled a difficult and challenging terrain (like the hiking trail of Cinque Terre) and you looked back continuously to marvel at the distance you’ve come through the rough territory.
Whatever you can do to build up this muscle, the greater the chance that your confidence level will continue to be high enough to allow you to tackle tasks that are challenging enough for you. A helpful way to strengthen your confidence is to continue look back on your life and your work with self admiration.
Creativity offers each of us the opportunity to look at the world and our circumstances in it with fresh, new eyes. Each of us is born with creative capacities – an ability to find unique solutions to vexing problems. Owning our birthright as creative beings gives us greater access to this territory. When we attribute the ability to be creative only to a select few who are artistically creative, we limit the possibilities in front of us.
We strengthen our creative abilities by giving ourselves assignments that demand creative solutions. The equivalent of – “What would you do if you were left on a desert island alone?” (as Tom Hanks was in the movie Castaway).
Courage comes into play as we step up to the challenges in front of us. Often we are plagued with disabling beliefs that prevent us from going forward, “I’m not good enough, ” “I don’t matter, ” “There’s something wrong with me, ” are common beliefs that get in our way as we venture out into unchartered territory. It takes great courage to venture forward in spite of these concerns. It’s important that we challenge these notions – recognizing them for what they truly are – distortions of reality.
And finally, we come upon the final land in the territory leading to success: commitment. As John Mellencamp, award-winning singer, musician and artist told a television interviewer recently, “Most people quit too soon. ” When we are steadfast enough to see ourselves through to the realization of our dreams, when we are patient and persistent we stay the course – remaining firm and forward moving towards the result that we most want to achieve – we arrive.
While each individual land: Contribution, Confidence, Creativity, Courage and Commitment are important territories in their own right, the combination of these lands together are greater than the sum of any of the parts. I encourage you to visit these lands often (and Cinque Terre as well if you’re taking a trip to Italy) and become skilled and knowledgeable about all that awaits you in these places as you go forth to the success you most assuredly deserve.
Melanie Keveles MA, CPCC, Certified Professional Life Coach. She is a “dream champion, ” working with people who want to change career direction, start a business or publish a book. She’s available via e-mail at email@example.com, by phone at 715-394-4260, or http://www.onlinecoaching.com and offers complimentary sessions.