Success is perhaps the most sought after phenomenon. Everyone has his or her own definition of success, and these definitions and measures of success tend to be very diverse. Although our definitions of success are diverse, we all share a common desire. This desire is to succeed at whatever we do. I am yet to hear of anyone who set out to fail or is proud of failure. In our pursuit of success we have accumulated mountains of knowledge on the subject. It is impossible to summarise all that humanity knows about success. In this issue we take a look at some of those obvious truths, that are very critical to success and yet are very often overlooked.
Success is a do it yourself project
William Shakespeare was a super-intelligent individual and indisputably very successful too. He was such a prolific writer that his success remains unrivalled centuries after he died. In his Twelfth Night he wrote, "Some people are born great, some people achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them."
That is very philosophical indeed. However, there is a more obvious truth. All people are born babies. At birth we inherit surnames, but we do not inherit success. If your father is a professor that does not make you an educated person. The baby who is born to tall parents must still do her own growing without which she can die a dwarf. This is also true about success and greatness. Genes are inherited, but wisdom is not.
Some may inherit fortunes but most inherit disadvantages. What determines how successful they become is not how much of what they inherit, but what they do with it. It is not where or how we are born that matters. What is important is what we do between birth and death. What you do with advantages is more important than the nature of the advantage.
Many people have been known to fritter away inherent advantages, and many have also turned around disadvantages to victories. Success is not about what other people do for you and failure is also not about what they don't do for you or do to you. It is about what you do.
You matter more than anyone else in this equation. No one can thrust success on you and no one can snatch it away from you. You are the most important person in this regard. Many people are waiting for the important person who will change their fortunes for better not realising that they are that person.
Success is achieved Daily, And Not In A Day
Pele did not wake up as a great and successful footballer one morning. Shakespeare did not suddenly become a great playwright. You do not coast through life and then suddenly one day stumble upon success and greatness.
The little decisions and actions that we take everyday conspire to shape our lives in no small way. What you decide to do today or what you opt not to do today has a bearing on your future.
Everyday we invest in our lives and it is these investments that ultimately determine how far we go in life. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is just not a single act, but a habit. Winners in life develop daily, and not in a day and they harvest the rewards of their daily investment in personal development. Success is a harvest, and like all harvests it is determined by the quality and quantity of seeds sown.
There are no -hearted champions
Apathy and tepidity are enemies of greatness and success. No Formula One driver has ever won a race by driving his car in neutral gear. There never was a halfhearted leader who achieved sustained success.
The size of your passion determines the size of the success you get over a period of time. If your job bores you stiff, you are very unlikely to reach the top. Greatness requires much more than just turning up. It requires diligence, application, determination and consistence. Motivation is very important.
No one is born with it, and yet everyone needs it. Successful people are always ablaze with desire to see their vision come to fruition.
Horst Schulze put it this way, "You are nothing unless it comes from your heart. Passion, caring, really looking to create excellence. If you perform functions only and go to work only to do processes, then you are effectively retired. And it scares me most that people I see, by age 28, are retired.
If you go to work only to fulfill the processes and functions, then you are a machine. You have to bring passion, commitment and caring - that's what makes you a human being." In life, the prize goes to the person - not who is the smartest or most talented or most resourced - with passion. A dwarf who is determined to get noticed will attract more attention than a giant who is nonchalant.
Success favours those that Never Cease Practicing and Improving
It is a myth that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to. Our greatest opportunities for improvement are linked to our strengths, and so are our greatest opportunities for success.
Most of us make the mistake of focusing our improvement efforts on our weaknesses. I love football, but on a scale of one to 10 my soccer skills probably score close to one.
If I put all my resources into improving my soccer skills in the next 10 years, I will probably improve to three. And that is still below average. So I am better off watching football than trying to be a football star.
Suppose my communication and analytical skills score close to six, and if I put my resources into improving that I will probably improve to eight or nine within two years. And that is close to excellent.
The key is self-awareness. Be aware of what you are good at and work on fine-tuning it.