Success is often elusive. Many say they want it, but few ever feel that they achieve it. To simply pursue success is often an exercise in futility. The goal is too broad to understand the effort and resources required to attain it. Though I don't have a magic pill to guarantee your success, I am an avid student of those who have risen above the norm. In this blog I want to share with you a few things that those who have raised the bar have in common:
1. They Embrace Change - People and businesses that strive to maintain the status quo rarely achieve success. Though they may become imitators and ride on the coattails of those who do, they seldom leave a mark. When the economy is good, they are good. When the economy is bad, they suffer. Rather than pursuing success, they are focused on survival. Those who embrace change are calculated risk takers. They make the watch, while others simply tell time. They create change while others simply respond to it.
2. They Have Well Defined Goals - Can you imagine John F. Kennedy saying in 1961, "Somewhere down the road we are going to be a leader in the space race"? Do you really think that would have landed us on the moon? Of course not. JFK issued what Jim Collins in his book Built To Last, refers to as a BHAG - Big Hairy Audacious Goal. He not only laid out the time frame- by the end of this decade, but a specific goal - sending an American safely to the moon and back. "Being the best" is not a well-defined goal any more than "achieving success" is. Be specific about what you want to accomplish and the time frame in which you plan to achieve success.
3. They Surround Themselves With Winners - Please don't miss this point. In the end, your greatness will be determined by those who you allow to surround you on the journey. This is consistent with every example I can find of sustained success. The 1980 US Olympic Hockey team failed miserably as individuals. It was not until Herb Brooks broke their allegiance to self and molded them into a team that greatness was possible. By the way, this principle of "Greatness through great people" knows no boundaries. At dinner recently in China, I asked a successful American businessman about his journey to success in a foreign land. He rattled off a plethora of obstacles they had overcome. When I asked him to identify the primary key to their success, his answer was "the people on our team."
4. They Focus On Their Legacy - "Self" focused success impacts the here and now; "Legacy" focused success impacts now and for generations to come. Think of some of the powerful legacies that have impacted our lives: Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, etc...This past week a dear mentor and close friend succumbed to a four-year battle with ALS. Coach Bill Napier was the best coach I ever knew. Few understood the intricacies of football as he did. He took our local high school from a legacy of losing to a destiny of winning. His impact on our football program would definitely define him as a success, but his impact on the players who played the game will assure him a legacy of success for years to come. Through him I learned that success is not simply about winning - it is about molding winners. He leaves behind an amazing wife, daughter, and three sons who are following his passion for impacting the lives of others by coaching at the Middle School, High School, and College levels. All are paying forward the lessons of their dad.
In short, the ultimate determination of your success occurs not when the man in the mirror claims you have achieved it, but after you are gone, often by people you never knew. The nature of true success is that it instills confidence and creates an atmosphere where achievement is not only possible, but expected. It positively impacts others and outlives us. Here's to your success!