In uncertain times people often seek stability safe harbor from the storm of change swirling around them. While some thrive most cringe, hunkering down, tense and nervous in expectation of the blows to come. What differentiates those few who succeed and thrive from those who curl up in anticipation of a long, cold winter?
The common components I see in all successful people, whether at the top of their game or looking up the mountain of their greatest slump, are:
As the saying goes, “Know your strengths, and outsource your weaknesses.”
In order to understand where you are, you must understand who you are. In knowing your make-up, your strengths and weaknesses, you can make informed decisions about just where you step when the footing becomes slippery.
Being honest with yourself also helps you understand how much you can reasonably accomplish, helps you know when you just need to put the blinders on to get it done, and when to hand the ball to someone else for the touchdown. Sometimes, honesty may show you it is better to be led than to lead. However, without self-truth you will become your own worst enemy, constantly sabotaging yourself in whatever your endeavors.
Perhaps the single most important component of success I witness in down times is that of vision – having a goal towards which you strive – as well as that innate ability to recognize opportunity in the darkest of times. Some might term this as hope, but vision is much more deliberate.
Leaders are made and broken during difficult times, and can often be the most unlikely candidates. I have learned that the best of leaders offer their teams not only hope, but an achievable vision to fight towards. They do this by painting a picture their followers can not only see, but also envision how to achieve.
You see, while hope is a component of vision, truly having a vision is both intellectual as well as emotional. Vision is having a goal to which you aspire, as well as the ability of constructing the various achievement gates that comprise your goal; in other words, a hallmark of vision is the ability to break down the dream into digestible milestones, whereas hope is contentedly dreaming the dream.
A great leader will inspire you to not only dream, but live their vision. So in bad times, you must decide whether you will be led or whether you will lead.
Will power is deciding a course of action, and executing. It is not bullheaded, but is resolute when right. It is not a wall to stand against the odds, it is a tree that stands tall and proud, but knows when to flex and bend as the winds of change blow hard against it.
Having the will to survive and thrive is one only you can make. Surely supporters and mentors can help lift down-spirits, but ultimately it is up to you to pick yourself up off the ground and keep walking; when you can no longer walk, it is up to you to crawl, because only those that want it truly want it have a chance.
While will power doesn’t ensure success, it keeps your heart beating when the vision seems so far away; it helps you rationalize the pain as being part of the process to achieve your vision.
Finally, communication is a key component of success. This takes two forms: being able to communicate your ideas as well as continually networking.
First, you must be able to effectively communicate what it is you are attempting to accomplish. Otherwise, you are just another voice in the crowd, screaming at the top of your lungs. Being able to reach others on their level is extremely important to your survival. A key skill here is to practice listening to what might be important to others.
Second, building a network of supporters is highly important. These are people you can turn to when things are at their worst, who can help you find work, turn you on to a lead, or simply give you advice on a pending project.
But, don’t forget, building a network is not one-sided. You must have first put in the time and energy of helping others succeed. Then, and only then, do you have the right to ask for favors in return. A key skill here is to live with a heart of service; help others succeed without need of reciprocation, and you will find you have supporters to lean on in times of need.
Honesty, vision, will, and communication are common keys successful people use to unlock their success potential. These are not always given, but can be developed.
Success comes in many different shapes and sizes. Only you can determine what success looks like for you. While society and our loved ones often superimpose their image of success upon us, it is ours, and ours alone, to determine success.
What stories do you have that you could share with us? Do you have a different outlook, or do you have anything that could be added?
I encourage each of you to take inventory of your life and determine if you are doing what it is you are called to do. If not, what steps can you reasonably take to step in that direction?
Ken Stewart’s website, ChangeForge, focuses on the collision between the constantly changing worlds of business and technology in an information-centric world. Ken serves on the board of the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA), an international industry organization seeking worldwide best practices for the managed print services industry, and writes a weekly column for MPS Insights. He is also the founder of Seeking the Son, and is always interested in connecting with you to see how he might help you.