Guest Post: John Gonzalez - Source: Linked-in
That’s something I’ve been thinking about. I enjoy many interests both professionally and personally. It’s always more fun if you can experience personal growth, improvement, and advancement in what you choose to do. So, how do we keep improving and advancing? How does someone become really good at things? I thought about some of the most successful people I’ve met and what makes them successful. I also thought about the times where I’ve experienced success.
What key factors made my colleagues so successful at what they were doing?
When I was successful at something, what key factors did I have at that time that made me successful? Just as important, I’ve reflected on the times when I’ve seen people fail to overcome obstacles. And, I thought about the times when I did not experience success. Understanding failure is not fun, but it is VERY IMPORTANT. Seeing success gives you an idea of what key factors are required; seeing failure validates which factors were NOT present.
So…here is my Top 9 list of key success factors:
1. Mindset – A mind is an incredibly powerful thing. The human brain is a small piece of organic matter that barely weighs 3 pounds. It is still little understood, yet responsible for the creation of all civilization. To be successful, conditioning must first occur in the mind. For a fun example of a powerful mindset, check out a rendition of a famous Bruce Lee quote: “Be formless, shapeless, like water…water can flow, or it can crash…be water.” https://youtu.be/0EygqL--RW4 Bruce Lee brilliantly creates an analogy between water and the optimal, flexible essence of mind and body. Success in different pursuits, roles requires different skills, different forms. Your mind and body need to be capable of understanding what that ideal essence should be for ultimate success in a particular pursuit and then take on that form/become that essence.
2. Training – There is a reason why people look to train with experts when seeking to develop their own skills – they learn a lot that way! There is no better way to improve skill level than to train with true experts. Aristotle taught Alexander the Great.
3. Practice (hard work) – Have you ever seen someone do something that you think was amazing and they made it look easy? There’s a good chance that they have done it hundreds or thousands of times before. Repetition builds confidence and also muscle memory. Your mind and body become conditioned to successful performance. In the picture above, I am breaking 3 boards with a step, reverse sidekick. Prior to that day, I had practiced that same technique dozens of times with a heavy bag. When the day came to perform the technique live, in front of an audience, my mind and body were already conditioned to do it – I benefited from the positive effects of adrenaline, without hesitation or nervousness. The Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has some of the best competition shooters in the world – each of them practices with tens of thousands of rounds every year.
5. Planning (setting goals) – A life or pursuit without goals and planning is a trip without a map and without a destination. Know what you want to achieve and plan how you will get there. Keep things simple so there is heightened focus and unanimity. I’m a fan of “Top 3” or “Top 5” goals.
6. Perseverance – You will face obstacles. You will not always overcome them on the first try. Nobody achieves true perfection on any meaningful scale. Successful people find a way to learn from misses (of their own and others). And…they don’t give up. They understand that setbacks are additional, temporary challenges that make ultimate success that much more profound and meaningful.
7. Passion – To be great at something, you have to enjoy it – “live and breathe it”. When you have a passion for something you have a voracious appetite to continue to learn more and more, fine-tune, and endlessly seek continuous improvement. Passion is the fuel that keeps the engine firing on all cylinders.
8. Teamwork – There are few things you can do in life alone. Teamwork is critical for success. Individual contributions can be impactful. The greatest achievements though often come from the synergies and collective talents and efforts of talented people working together – there is a multiplier effect.
9. Skill – Ok, unfortunately, one of these 9 is partially out of your control. You can always improve your skill level and you can improve all the other areas above. But, there will be a limit to what can be done and part of the limit will be your innate characteristics. So, we can all practice the above, but we don’t all have the potential to be Leonardo da Vinci. If you focus on areas where your innate skills and passion are the strongest, the other items on this list will help improve your success that much more.
So, what do you think of this list, and what is YOUR list of key success factors?