What is the secret to success? That’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it (BTW, adjusted for inflation, that’s actually closer to “the $498,134.81 question”). From the dawn of time, people have been trying to figure out how to succeed, and usually in the quickest and most painless way possible. For example, depending on the source cited, Americans spend between $18 and 40 billion (that’s with a B) on diet and weight loss aids. “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” is playing on Broadway and every day, new digital charlatans pop up on the internet to explain how people can make money over the web while they sleep.
However, shortcuts seldom work and usually backfire.
Real success is systemic, painstaking work that requires diligence, focus and effort. That being said, according to Knowledge Is Power Program founder Dave Kipp, there are eight common characteristics found in successful people. There IS a secret after all.
“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.”
~ Jean Houston
Humor ~ A sense of humor helps in a number of ways, chief among them is the ability to ease tension. Laughter literally breaks down stress hormones in the body and enables people to relax and see things from a new perspective. http://helpguide.org/life/humor_laughter_health.htm Humor helps individuals to not only realize the absurd in any given situation but also to not take themselves too seriously.
“Everything in the world we want to do or get done, we must do with and through people.”
Social intelligence ~ Sometimes generally referred to as “people skills,” social intelligence incorporates many complex and subtle interaction skills while making it appear easy. Being able to interact with, inspire and motivate others is essential to achieving success. No one ever succeeds alone.
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.”
Hope is the ballast, the base and the pull from an unknown source of grace that keeps us hanging in there when “reality” tells us to give up. Without hope, goals are empty. Hope is linked to promise ~ the promise of what can be, the promise of our dreams. Without the underpinnings of a reason (the seed of hope), none of us have the driver for improving our behavior.
“Love is work made visible.” ~ Kahlin Gibran”
Love ~ Love is the highest vibration of excellence that exists. It is so pure, so elemental, that we cannot define it; we can only sense when it is present. Have you ever teared up at the sound of someone’s voice while singing? Had a lump in your throat when witnessing a kindness? That’s love made manifest, and it’s the most galvanizing force in our reality.
“Two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take; the larger kind we feel for what we give.”
~ Edwin Arlington Robinson
Gratitude ~ Possessing and expressing gratitude is a means for keeping the “giving and receiving” channel open and “unclogged.” Awareness of our blessings magnifies them. I included the second half of the gratitude quote because when we give from our abundance and recognize that we give from strength, isn’t that success?
“Life is slowly passing us by. Without a genuine sense of enthusiasm, a zest for life, and a lighthearted spirit, we take our problems and obstacles too seriously. People are seen as burdens instead of gifts. Challenges are dreaded instead of seen as opportunities.”
Zest ~ The spice of life, zest is more than happiness. It is a winsome enthusiasm for the experiences of life, both good and bad, that provides energy for the journey. Zest is also usually “found” as a contrast to whatever is being experienced. Using a food analogy, if oatmeal can be called bland, then a dash of cinnamon is the spicy-sweet zest. So if you are going through a particularly oatmeal-y time in your life, look for the cinnamon. It’s there.
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.”~ Amelia Earhart
Grit ~ For me, grit is both a noun and a verb, with one begetting the other. I have a pair of silver leather ballet flats that I wore to Lake Michigan one summer for a film festival. We had visited the beaches while touring lighthouses. That was four years ago, and I STILL have sand in the crevices of those slippers. Those grains have persevered and clung to the inside of my shoes and they will never be fully eradicated. The tenacity to endure and persist in the pursuit of a goal is elemental to reaching success.
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good.’”
~ Stephen Covey
Self control ~ Of the eight, this is probably the most difficult to attain, but not impossible. What’s interesting is that when we wish to be successful, we’ll keep our word to the external world and people in our networks, because we don’t want to be thought a liar or unreliable. However, we’ll “cut ourselves some slack” because, we rationalize, *we’re* the only ones who can tell that we’re not holding ourselves accountable. When we fail to discipline ourselves, we haven’t build a firm center from which to grow outward. Our facade is simply that: a veneer that won’t hold, ultimately. Through self-control, the seeds of true success are sown, regardless of your field or endeavor.
Which one of these “secrets” have you figured out? When and how did you realize it? Which ones would you like to focus on this year?