Thank you very much for the overwhelming response to my request last week for blog topics. The questions that seem to have universal appeal I will answer in my weekly blog. Comments and questions that deal with specific personal issues I will respond to directly as soon as possible.
This week I will answer a question I hear frequently in various forms: What should I do to get what I want?
To begin with, there is no single “right” way to accomplish anything. What works for some people, won’t necessarily work for others. And what is effective today, won’t necessarily be effective tomorrow.
Personal qualities determine success
One common technique people use to figure out how to achieve their goals is to copy the behavior of successful people. Unfortunately, more often than not that technique doesn’t work. Why?
Because successful people are successful because of who they are, not merely what they do. Obviously they do things, but their doing is a function of their being, not a function of “rules for success.”
So what “are” successful people? In Success Built to Last, by Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery, and Mark Thompson, a must-read book about what is in common among over 200 “enduringly successful people,” the authors offer a definition of personal success based on what these people told them: “ … a life and work that brings personal fulfillment and lasting relationships and makes a difference in the world in which they live.”
I like what the book’s authors say about the conventional definition of success: “Folks who chase a fantastic but vain hope for fame, wealth, and power—for its own sake—may even achieve it, only to become miserable and pathetic people. … we think that the current definition of success is a potentially toxic prescription for your life and work. It is a description that makes you feel more like a failure than a success if it’s the standard against which all meaning in your life is measured.”
Let me quote a few more passages from this book that describe these enduringly successful people so you can discover who these people are, rather than what they do.
These people “insist that success may never come without a compelling personal commitment to something you care about and would be willing to do, with or without counting on wealth, fame, power, or public acceptance as an outcome.”
“What you do must matter deeply to you …. It’s something that you’re so passionate about that you lose all track of time when you do it. … In fact, you could not be paid to not do it.”
Another essential element is “a highly developed sense of accountability, audacity, passion, and responsible optimism. … Steve Jobs told us in an interview back before his famous ad campaign: Enduringly successful people ‘think different.’” (Emphasis added.)
They welcome failure
One of the most important qualities of these enduringly successful people is that they “drone on endlessly about learning from their mistakes. … Every experience teaches something. They don’t use a weakness or a setback to distrust themselves. … The question is not whether or not they won this round, but what do they do with the feedback. …