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William S. Cottringer

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A Success Formula That Works
By William S. Cottringer
Last edited: Sunday, October 01, 2006
Posted: Sunday, October 01, 2006

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William S. Cottringer

• 20 Writing Tips for Better Results
• Elements of Critical Thinking
• Five Pillars Of Happiness
• Little Laws 4 Big Success
• The Cllenge For Returning Veterans
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The genuine satisfaction and authentic happiness we all search for can only come about by learning how to make a difference that counts. We can do this by discovering how to do the right thing in the right way for the right reason to get the right result.

By Bill Cottringer

It has taken me several decades and more failures than I want to remember, but I think I finally have a handle on a success formula that works in the real world. The formula is: Doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason to get the right result. The formula won’t work unless everything is right. Even a 66% effort—doing the right thing in the right way for the wrong reason won’t get the right result. Let’s explore these four rights.

But before we “define” the four rights in this formula, let me tell you how it came about. This formula is a product of a mixture of my own cumulative failures and near successes and two recent highly successful experiences coming from two entirely different directions. The first experience was all the learning I got from doing some training at the annual meeting of the International Association of Rescue Dive Specialists. The members of this exceptional group of people risk their lives to be successful in making a difference by applying this formula. The second affirming experience came up on an Idaho mountaintop where two ordinary guys are doing some pretty extraordinary things—giving up time from their work, family and hobbies to study and contribute to the migration habits and welfare of birds of prey. Looking into the eye of a Red-tailed Hawk or a Kestrel Falcon from inches away, is an unforgettable, life-changing experience.


Although it is important to start out by knowing and doing the right thing, the trick here is to understand that the right thing, the right reason and the right result are very interrelated; And sometimes learning what the right thing is, depends upon the reason you have and result you get and whatever you are doing at a particular point in time. One thing is for sure though, knowing what the right thing to do involves knowing what your main purpose and God-given talent is, being on the right side of life’s equation, developing your purpose and talent fully (without too much worrying about your non-talents or miss-focusing on all the other distractions), and applying this all every chance you get in the right way for the right reason to get the right result.

If you are not sure what your purpose is or what your talent might be, it would be a good thing to invest some time and effort finding out. Then you have to know which side of life’s main equation—right vs. wrong—to commit to. Here are a few good questions to ask yourself if you are unsure about all this: What do you enjoy doing most? What are you best at doing? What do people compliment you most about? What is most difficult for you to do, but you are drawn to? Sometimes you are so close to your purpose and talent that you can’t see it. In that case ask a trusted friend for a clue. The truth is we all have a life purpose and talent to use to be successful in carrying it out.

Now we move into an aspect of doing the right thing that hides itself very well in our journey—knowing the main problems and challenges in life to which we should be applying this right success formula. There are four fundamental problems/challenges that confront us all in varying forms and experiences. These are:

1. Unconditional Love--Learning to accept, understand and love life and people unconditionally. Life speaks to us with two main voices: (a) unconditional acceptance (b) encouragement to unfold our potential by learning, growing and improving. The challenge is to be successful in speaking these two voices back in the right order and the right amplitude.

2. Forgiveness—Truly forgiving and forgetting wrong-doing done to us. This is so hard to do that many of us fail miserably. The only trick is to accept and understand the context and motivations for the wrong-doing and that paves the way for forgetting and forgiving.

3. Commitment--Making a complete commitment to being on the right side of life and committing fully to what we are doing for the cause and purpose we choose. The choice to commit is always delayed by minor successes we get from making minor contributions, but the reward we get is directly proportionate to the level of commitment we end up making.

4. Resource Management--Managing the resources of time, money and our efforts. Here we have to learn two important insights: (a) Time is more psychological than mechanical; and paying closer attention to the now moment expands time to exponentially (b) The more you give, the more you get.


The only right way to do the right thing is with boiling passion and sensitive thought. When you are doing the right thing in the right way, nobody could pay you not to do it. You can’t help yourself, you just have to do it. It gives you more satisfaction, meaning, purpose and contentment than anything else ever could. If you are not feeling real passion in what you are doing, you are probably not doing the right thing for the right reasons, and you will never get the right results. In other words, you are loitering.

Passion without thought is unbridled, unfocused energy going nowhere. To determine the right way to do the right thing involves seeing the subtle relationships between all these rights and how they are really unified in effecting each other. It is like a book that has the right title, the right beginning, the right middle and the right ending. The right way may very well be using this whole “right” formula simultaneously. At any rate, it has been my experience that you will find the right way, when you have the right thing to do for the right reason.

A significant turning point occurs when you begin to notice what you have failed to notice, and then you will find the right way because you will start noticing the connection between all these rights. Some things I failed to notice during my years of failure included:

• What I didn’t know and needed to know to be successful (this success formula).

• Interesting and unusual connections between things.

• The right order and amplitude in which to speak life’s two voices.

• What the core problems were in life below the noisy symptoms.

• How to become humble about becoming humble.

• The 5% sense hidden away in the rest of the 95% chaotic nonsense.


All real success has to be intrinsically motivated—you are doing the thing simply because it feels good doing in and all by itself, and for no other ulterior reason. As already pointed out, the right reason is tied to both doing the right thing and getting the right result. The real secret is to not do something for yourself or somebody else, but do it because it feels right, in making a positive difference that counts. Selfish and even altruistic motivations never seem to net the right result, but that lesson is a hard one to learn.

Probably the best path to knowing the best “reason” is to pay very close attention to what you can do to make your very best effort in whatever you are doing right now—thinking, talking, listening, reading, or whatever—to change a situation you are part of for the better. Take care of the seconds and the rest of time will serve you better. In anything, timing is everything.


The outcome of following this simple formula is always the same—a feeling of genuine satisfaction and substantial assurance that you have in fact made a difference in improving a situation you were part of. You have your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and nobody can tell you different. Whatever else your achievements bring, they can never replace this feeling. It makes the time and effort you put into what you are doing, and all the sacrifices you have to make and all the adversities you have to endure, well worth it. When you start getting in the habit of getting right results, you often don’t have the time to take notice because you are already moving on looking for other right things to do in the right ways for the right reasons. Success is contagious and it starts when you trade your vicious circle of negativity and wrongness for a positive, right virtuous one.

Look for ways to apply this simple formula of success in your life right now. It is a good frame of reference to find out what is right for you. And it definitely works!

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security, Business Success Coach, Sport Psychologist, Writer and Photographer from Issaquah, WA. He is author of Passwords To The Prosperity Zone, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, and The Bow-Wow Secrets. Bill can be reached for comments and questions at (425) 454-5011 or


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