Recently, I was asked to write a Top 10 list about the secrets of success, and I spent time thinking about the most successful people I've known. There have been a thousand books and tape sets written about the "Secrets of Success", so the challenge was to see if I could add something new. I think I have at least found a new way of thinking about successful people.
When I think about the most successful people I've known, both as clients and as colleagues or friends, the following key traits stand out.
First, they are insatiable learners, and some have lots of formal education. But I'm talking about something different. They are incredibly curious. They are like little kids who never stop asking "Why?" And perhaps more important, they ask, "Why not?" These people read "Popular Mechanics" and poetry. They take classes in art appreciation and learn to scuba dive. They buy books on quality parenting and take broken appliances apart to see how they work. They are permanent fixtures at their local community colleges, the public library, a favorite bookstore, and they watch PBS.
Second, they use all this learning to build creative contexts. They see how things are connected, and they see opportunities in terms of history and popular trends and new technology. They see ideas in the context of people and they make connections between ideas, technology, and the needs of individuals. How do they do this? I'm not exactly sure, but highly successful people can be reading a novel, which reminds them of a new technology they saw in a magazine, connect it with an idea they saw on PBS, and call a computer programmer to check out the new business opportunities, all in less than 30 minutes! They see a broader context than the rest of us.
Third, they assess risk accurately. Impulsive people under-estimate the level of risk and rush into foolish ventures with inadequate preparation. Cautious people have great ideas, but fail to act, often because they over-estimate the risk of failure. Highly successful people seem to evaluate both the chances of success and the costs of failure accurately and quickly. Because they correctly assess risk, they experience fewer failures and are not shocked or caught unprepared when things don't work out they way they hoped.
Finally, extremely successful people respond quickly. They don't over-react, rarely lose their temper or lose control, and yet they are seen as decisive leaders, as incredibly creative and energetic people. They don't seem to move very fast, and yet they accomplish more than most of us. They never rush, and they rarely hesitate. They respond appropriately and impact or change situations in the direction they desire. The simply get a lot done and they do it successfully.
Highly successful people hunger to learn everything, they see connections, they assess risk accurately, and they respond quickly. Skills I plan to develop!
And one more thing: Successful people enjoy themselves! As I look out my window, I see the trees are in bloom and my lawn needs mowing. Spring is here! Have a wonderful week, get outside, stretch your mind and your body, do something nice for yourself and someone else.