I rediscovered a short and to the point video clip by Richard St. John. He presented in sharp way “What makes people successful?”

8 topics

Richard brings up 8 examples from successful people. Here is what they said is important for them to achieving success.

Passion:    I do it not for money but because I love it
Work:        It’s hard work and I’m having fun doing it.
Practice:   Get really good at what you are doing.
Focus:       Be clear on the one thing you want to achieve.
Push:        Push yourself mentally and physically. Have thoughts like being not good enough? Get pushed!
Serve:       Whatever you do, it needs to be of value to others.
Ideas:       Have great ideas using “listen, observe, be curious, ask questions, solve problems, make connections”
Persist:    Perservere through failure and CRAP (criticism, rejection, assholes, pressure)

I look at this list and can’t help thinking, this is elementary stuff. You need to have passion for what you do. Doing just a job is not making you successful. I wrote about that some weeks back. It is not always easy (persist) and requires time. You also need to put in the hard work to become good at it. And the “it” bit is quite important. This is your objective, your goal and Richard calls it focus.

That leaves 2 elements in the list that stick out because they are different. Firstly, it’s “serve”. It is an important differentiators. You cannot be successful without providing value. Secondly, it is “ideas”. Richard deviates in the semantics from the the 7 other elements. Ideas is a noun and not a verb, it doesn’t relate to doing. It is a statement, you need t have or generate ideas to be successful. Kindly, he provides a number of hints that can help identifying spaces for improvements or gaps that can be filled by products or services. But what it comes down to is successful people have a particular skillset that enables them to spot those gaps and generate possibilities how to address them.

This latter capability is in my opinion missing from Richard’s list of 8. What I mean is to generate possibilities how to address those gaps and actually making them happen. I would call it courage, which incidentally is one of the 3 values my employer is using for years: “courage to act”.

What is Success?

When discussing what makes people successful, it is important we understand what success actually means. Some people say making lots of money is success and countries measuring their wealth using the GDP are doing effectively that. Others see success as leading a happy and fulfilled life. Countries that measure the gross happiness level are using that metrics. I think success should be measured as the positive impact my work has upon the lives of other people.

From that view, a tobacco company is never a successful organisation and neither is a drug cartel.

Looking at the list of 8 + 1 again, the point serve needs an adjustment in definition: Whatever you do, it needs to be of positive value to others.

And that’s I think is as good a motto you can have in life.

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