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‘Good’ is the new ‘average’

Chief Master Sgt. Stuart Allison is the command chief of the 509th Mission Support Group at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. He is currently deployed with the 407th Air Expeditionary Group as its superintendent. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

Chief Master Sgt. Stuart Allison is the command chief of the 509th Mission Support Group at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. He is currently deployed with the 407th Air Expeditionary Group as its superintendent. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry/Released)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- In today's ultra-competitive environment, being "good" is the new "average." We must continually progress toward being "excellent" and "outstanding."

Each tip below, when applied with consistent effort, will put you on a path to continued success. If all you do is give each a passing glance, or try once and give up, your chances of success will diminish. Dabblers should not expect continued success.

This article is my second in a series of commentaries that will actually teach what it means to be successful. There is no one perfect answer for how to achieve success. It's a series of lessons that if learned and applied will greatly increase your chances of success.

1. Get serious: Don't expect success without daily deliberate actions. You have to be mentally prepared to improve yourself. Reflect on what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Be honest with yourself and talk with others about it. Other people can give you a different perspective for where and how you should improve. Deciding on a whim to improve will be a recipe for disaster.

2. Raise the bar: Set high goals that are attainable. Stretch yourself with a challenge. If your goals are too high, break them down into smaller parts. Before running a marathon, train for a 5K, then a half-marathon, and then finally graduate to the full marathon.

3. Keep things simple: Set only one to three goals at a time and make the criteria for success clear. People fail to change because they set too many goals or their goals are too vague. Make the criteria for success measurable. Setting a goal of "I will run a mile in under seven minutes" is far better than setting a goal of "I will run faster."

4. Focus on the fundamentals: Olympic lifters practice good form, comedians rehearse their routine hundreds of times and we all know how many times we Airmen have practiced each of our drills. Focusing on the fundamentals causes you to form a solid foundation of good habits that you can continuously improve upon.

5. Focus on your strengths: Focusing solely on your weaknesses will cause you to spin your wheels and become frustrated. Do what you are good at and become an all-star at it. People do not want generalists; all-stars and experts are the ones in high demand.

6. Plan your way to success: Even if you set measurable and attainable goals, if you do not have a plan you will fail. Look to others who achieved similar goals to those you set. Model your plan off of their methods. The important part - write down your plan. You will often be led astray by daily distractions; writing down your plan will be a backup for when you forget.

7. The power of focus: Keep your goals in front of you. Write them on a sheet of paper and post them at home and at work. If you are a visual person, create a vision board with pictures of your goals.

8. Personal development: Always look for ways to improve. The Internet is full of free information. Read books or take seminars and free online courses. Always be moving forward. Improve by just 1 percent each day. In a year, you will have improved over 300 percent!

9. Teamwork: Find others that want to achieve the same goals as you and work together with them. Mutual support will keep you both moving forward. Tell others about your goals, too. You will be more motivated to achieve your goals if you know others will be holding you accountable.

Above all else, you must be willing to apply each tip consistently. Think of New Year's resolutions. People set them, hold onto them for about two weeks and then abandon them. Good intentions and happy thoughts are not enough. Serious and deliberate action is what separates success from failure.