What is it that makes one person successful while another is not?
Is it intelligence?
No. It is not that. There are lots of very intelligent people out there who by anybody's standards are not successful.
Is it education?
No, not that either. Not formal education at school or university at any rate. Not that alone. Undoubtedly this can help, but you can find many successful men and women with very little formal education.
Is it luck?
No. Not luck in the sense of pure chance. Certainly you can look at the lives of successful men and see what look like lucky breaks and think "with that sort of luck I could have done the same," but there is more to it than that. Much more.
So what is it?
All of the above can help. They can all play a part, but on their own they are not enough. Not nearly enough.
So far I have avoided saying what success is. And that is the first key to achieving success. You have got to know what YOU mean by success. You have got to know what YOU want. If you don't know what you want you will never get it, that's for sure.
Whether it is money, happiness, respect from others, status in the community, if you really know what you want then you are off to a flying start. Bill Gates had the vision of changing the future through the use of computers. Mother Teresa had the overwhelming desire to help the poor in India. Both achieved success in their own chosen fields. You MUST have a goal.
Look at any outstanding person and you will see a single minded dedication to achieving their goal. Not only do they have a goal but the goal is clearly defined. It is not a vague idea of being better off but a target of being (let us say) a millionaire by the age of 30. It is not a general wish to help others (for example) through medical research but a determination to find a cure to a specific disease. It is this clear, unclouded, view of the goal that gives the high achiever the drive to go on. The drive to go on in face of all difficulties, in face of the scepticism and ridicule of others, to keep going when things get tough.
And luck? Yes, the successful have luck, but they make their own luck. Some people see a chance and they seize it. Others let it pass them by. They are afraid or unsure. The successful grabs a chance. He has a go. If it goes wrong he picks himself up and tries again, and again, and again. Others fail once and give up. That is the difference. And what gives him the courage and energy to go on is his determination to achieve his clearly defined goal.
Education is always good. It is always better to know something than not to know. But a lot of what you learn at school has no direct application to earning a living. It may help you to understand the world, it may help you to be a better person, and it may even help you in your work. It is all good, but it doesn't stop there.
Those who are successful are always learning. They learn from others, they learn from books, they may even enroll on a formal course of training if they think they need it, but one way or another they continue to learn. They learn what they need to get to where they want to be, because they really want to be there.
So what is the strategy?
First. Fix your personal goal. What do YOU want? Money? To help others? An Olympic medal? To work from home, with all the freedom it brings? To serve your local community? Your goal may be big, it may appear small, but it is what YOU decide. Don't let others decide for you. If you really know what it is you want, you will achieve it. But you have to REALLY want it.
Second. Single-mindedly pursue this goal. Don't be distracted. Don't weaken. Don't give up. Pick yourself up if things go wrong and start again. But, to be able to do all this you have to be SURE without a shadow of a doubt what you really want. That is what the vast majority of people do not know.
Happiness comes with attaining your goals.
I wish you happiness.
Arthur Cooper is a writer and publisher. Read more of his articles on: www.arthurcooper.com. His book Successful Management aimed at new and aspiring managers is available at: http://www.barrel-publishing.com/successful_management.htm.© 2005 Arthur Cooper
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