Success is a wonderful word that all of us want to be associated with. In my opinion everyone should define their success and it is for the individual to decide if they are successful or not. For example the French chef Bernard Loiseau would be a success by anyone’s standard. However he committed suicide because of a news report that hinted his restaurant may lose its 3 star status.
Success to me is all about reaching my maximum potential, doing my best work, reaching my best whatever it is, earning the most money aligned to my capability, living a life full of passion, being a class act, having an impact and never comparing myself with others. The first step towards any form of success is to define what it means to you. This is the most important step any of us will take in our lives.
While setting high standards for our work and life is always a good sign, it is not good if we are never happy with what we achieve. This is why success requires a balance between striving for more and enjoying the current success.
I believe the recipe of success can be baked with the following ingredients. Here is my A – Z of Success.
A for Ambition: To achieve success you need a lot of ambition. The people who have made a mark in this world have all been highly ambitious with a compelling vision for the future. Ambition shouldn’t be confused with greed. When you have ambition it creates a blueprint for your success. Without ambition you won’t have the motivation required to persevere on the journey towards your dreams.
B for Boldness: Be bold with a touch of audacity. One of the examples of this is Steve Jobs decision to go ahead with the Apple Stores concept. In fact one of the comments from Business Week at that time was “Sorry Steve, Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work.” Despite all this Steve Jobs had the audacity to proceed with his vision and see ultimate success. This is truly boldness in action. Taking calculated risks and identifying your fears is the starting point for boldness.
C for Confidence: Ultimately your success boils down to the confidence you have in your abilities. One of the best ways to be confident is to do an analysis of your strengths. The other method is to write down all your accomplishments till date including things you achieved in school and look at it on a daily basis. Keep adding to that list as and when you accomplish anything. Sometimes we look outward to get appreciation but I think instead of waiting for approval we can acknowledge ourselves for a job well done.
D for Desire: As Napoleon Hill said “There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.” True success happens only when we have a burning desire of something we want to achieve. The key is the desire has to be your own and not something someone else wants for you.
E for Enthusiasm: As Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Your success will directly be a result of the enthusiasm you have for your vision and the actions you take to achieve that vision. There is no charisma without enthusiasm. As documented in Inc. Magazine back in the 1981 cover story “When Steve Jobs speaks it is with “gee-whiz” enthusiasm of someone who sees the future and is making sure it works.”
F for Forgiveness: Most people carry a burden concerning other people who have hurt them for far too long resulting in a heavy heart. One of the success habits is to forgive everyone for anything wrong that has been done to you. If we think about it nobody in general purposely hurts another and if we understand that it is easier to forgive. It is also important that we forgive ourselves and it is a reminder that we are not perfect.
G for Gratitude: If you want to enjoy your success then you need to be grateful with what you have. Staying grateful helps you have joy which is one of the keys to a successful life. Writing down everything that we are grateful for is a great starting point towards all the happiness we desire.
H for Hope: I like this quote from Tom Bodett “They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” Only when we have a compelling future vision can we be truly successful. Having hope is a great antidote to fear and worry. Of course hope alone is not enough but when married with hard work it can be dynamite.
I for Indispensable: In our interconnected world where we are constantly competing with the best of the best we need to become indispensable. This means you need to carve a niche for yourself and stand out from the crowd. The great news is that there are many avenues to do this currently. There is more scope to showcase your talent than ever before in the history of humanity.
J for Journey: Life is not a destination; it is a journey to be enjoyed all the way. It is how we bounce back from seeming setbacks that truly measure our heart for exceptional success. The journey is an adventure and an example of this is the life of Steve Jobs. He got fired from the company he founded and still managed to make a great comeback. It just shows to anything can happen but we have to be committed to the journey of life.
K for Kindness: Be kind to everyone you meet. Everyone has enough problems on their plate and your kindness could be the best experience they have had for that day. Kindness improves our mood and also those around us. “Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference.” Kevin Heath
L for Love: All of life ultimately boils down to love. We work because of love; we have personal relationships because of love. Love is the great energizer of life. If we organize our life around love we cannot go wrong. “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead.” Oscar Wilde
M for Mortality: Connecting with our mortality is essential as it creates the urgency for us to achieve more with the understanding that we are not going to live forever. I think this quote from Steve Jobs goes to the heart of dealing with our mortality and the fact that our time is limited. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
N for Noticeable: For you to be successful you have to be noticeable in your organization. You need to sell yourself with your talents and make people notice you. As Steve Martin said “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” Unless you show others what you are capable of nobody is going to know. I think we should learn to sell ourselves not in an abrupt manner but a classy manner. This requires practice but this will pay off in spades.
O for Optimism: The key to success lies in optimism. It’s not what happens to us but how we respond to what happens to us that matters. For example Steve Jobs believed in his products even when he was the only one with the vision. He was not even sure if it will be accepted in the market but he showed undying optimism to see success till the end. Even in his professional nadir he showed enduring optimism and show what one can achieve with optimism and belief.
P for Peace of mind: Ultimately you will enjoy your success only if you have peace of mind. Without it no amount of outside success will be satisfying. You can attain peace of mind when you are grateful for what you have and don’t have a need to constantly compare with others. Set your own sails and go forward confidently in the direction of your dreams. Don’t allow critics to rob your peace of mind.
Q for Quality: Vince Lombardi put it beautifully when he said “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” Go for quality in every area of your life and you will be successful.
R for Resilience: Angela Lee Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania says that grit is the single quality that guarantees success, based on her ground breaking studies. As Napoleon Hill famously observed “Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent benefit.” There are going to be setbacks like we may not get the promotion we wanted but having patience and perseverance never goes out of fashion. Talent will not take the place of persistence and resilience. One of the strategies to develop resilience is to develop a core set of beliefs that nothing can shake. For more on this please check out my article 10 Tips to develop Resilience.
S for Self-Esteem: Self-esteem is the cornerstone of a healthy personality. It is important to be comfortable in your own skin. Self-esteem is defined as your reputation with yourself. You are unique and have talents that can help you succeed. The key to self-esteem is to write down the qualities you admire in yourself. Maybe you have passion or discipline, and by acknowledging your positive traits you can enhance your self-esteem. When setbacks occur while you may feel bad it doesn’t reduce your self-esteem. Write down all your successes till now and keep track of your accomplishments. This surely enhances self-esteem. When you have high self-esteem you generally feel more positive about life and do better at work. “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” Norman Vincent Peale
T for Teachable: Continuous improvement is the minimum requirement for success. One of the keys for this is to have a teachable spirit. We should always keep in mind that there are better experts out there who know more than us about our field and this attitude will ensure a nurturing environment for learning that is a necessary requirement for success.
U for Unique: You are unique and there is no one else like you in this world. This uniqueness enables you to provide services that enable you to stand out and show case your talent. Keep developing your talents and understand where your strengths lie. If you understand your uniqueness and go forward in developing the required skills success will follow.
V for Victory: Victory is what everyone wants in business and personal life. You have to take a no prisoners attitude towards your life and go for broke. There are no guarantees in life but taking calculated risks in the direction of your dreams will ensure your ultimate victory.
W for Well-being: Ultimately your well-being is very important to your overall success. Unless you are healthy you cannot enjoy your life to the fullest. Take care of your health by exercising, eating right and most importantly getting adequate sleep. Only when you take care of yourself physically and mentally you can enjoy the fruits of your success.
X for Extreme focus: Success requires extreme focus on one area and committing all your energy to improving in that specific area. This quote from Orison Swett Marden addresses this “The giants of the race have been men of concentration, who have struck sledge-hammer blows in one place until they have accomplished their purpose. The successful men of today are men of one overmastering idea, one unwavering aim, and men of single and intense purpose.”
Y for Youthful: Being youthful is a state of mind. As a lot of people say age is just a number. Don’t allow your age to restrict yourself from dreaming and going after what you want in your life. Examples of people still achieving at older ages are all around us. Two of them whom I admire a lot are Warren Buffet and Henry Kissinger who is still writing books at the age of 92. This quote from General Douglas MacArthur hits the message home “Youth is not entirely a time of life; it is a state of mind. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals.. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.”
Z for Zest: Finally you need to have an undying zest for life. If you love your life and live it to the fullest you will achieve all your dreams. Here is the final quote from Normal Vincent Peale “The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They’re full of eagerness, zest, and productivity. You can be, too.”
To conclude all of us can define what success means to us. In fact defining that could actually be the first step on our journey towards success. Success is personal but eminently achievable. It is very much a journey worth taking.
Thanks for reading my post. Please leave a comment with any other factors that can help us become more successful.
If you like this article please be sure to check out my books on leadership, management, personal development, success and book reviews. It is a collection of the 173 blog posts I have written.
The views expressed in this article are my own and do not represent my organization