What contributes to success? Many have weighed in on this topic.
In 2011, Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson published some of her research on the characteristics of successful people. With the immediate acclaim that her article generated, Dr. Halvorson went on to establish a "science of success" by studying what successful people actually do.
She says that "successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do." Which includes such practices as getting specific about your goals and "knowing exactly what you want to achieve." This, Halvorson says, "keeps you motivated until you get there."
Looking further into Halvorson's fascinating research findings, a few other nuggets gleam, including:
Successful people focus on getting better - Successful people never rest on their laurels. Rather they are constantly pushing themselves to find ways to improve their game.
Successful people are great finishers - They take decisive action. And they stay with it to the end.
Successful people have grit - Successful people are committed to their goals and do not quit. Instead, they persevere, no matter what the challenge or the obstacle they face.
Grit. It's a peculiar word, going back to Olde English, having to do with gravel and pebbles and dirt. But it has a metaphoric sense meaning indomitable courage, toughness, or resolution, pluck and spirit.
People with grit, like the young heroine of the novel True Grit, do not easily give up. Like a dog with a bone, they will stubbornly refuse to yield.
Lawyer and teacher Angela Duckworth has also studied success and agrees that it comes down to grit. She defines it as passion + determination for the long haul. Unshakeable belief in oneself. Perseverance in the face of setbacks, disappointments, and failure.
What else goes into success? Here are six factors that I believe are key to success:
Purpose: Where are you going with your life? What is your trajectory? Are you thinking ahead? Are you envisioning your future? Are you laying out the roadmap that will get you there? Have you identified the obstacles and opportunities ahead?
Have you looked inside and asked yourself, Why am I here? What is calling me? Is there a mission that I am here to pursue?
Priorities: How are you spending your time? Are you doing what’s most important to you in terms of your vision and goals? Do you know what is most important? Are you making time in your daily and weekly schedule for yourself? for important relationships? for improving things? for lifelong learning? for thinking about the future?
In Stephen Covey's famous book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective people, he has two principles that are reflected in the above: Start with the end in mind, and First Things First.
Relationships: Are you connected to people around you? Are you keeping people informed? Are you getting all the key people on the same page? Are you seeking input and listening for good ideas? Are you learning from others?
Have you shared your goals with the people who matter most to you?
Team: Do you have a healthy and productive team around you? Are they aligned and enthusiastic? Are you engaging them by sharing the purpose? Are you challenging them? Are you building their capabilities? Are you coaching them?
Health: Are you taking good care of yourself? Are you coping with your own stress, as well as helping others? Are you exercising? eating right? getting enough sleep? enjoying life? replenishing your energy?
Adaptability: How well are you handling change? Are you bouncing back with resilience? Are you setting boundaries to protect and nourish each side of your life? Are you making sure that you have enough energy to give your best both to your job as well as to your life? Are you improving continuously? Are you learning something every day?
These six factors each contribute to your overall effectiveness as a parent, as a teacher, as a manager, as a human being. With all these factors in place, you will be able to get (and keep) your focus in order to get things done and achieve your goals.
For more on this topic, see the next post Jumping the Curve.
About the author: Terrence Seamon has over thirty years of business experience in leadership development, management training, team building, and organizational change, in both internal as well as external consulting roles. Terry has a Master’s degree in Education from Rutgers Graduate School of Education, as well as a Bachelor's degree in Human Communication from Rutgers. His main interest areas these days are change and transition, job search coaching, stress and wellness, employee engagement, and leadership development. You can find him on twitter at tseamon and on facebook at Facilitation Solutions.
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