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The One Thing That Separates Successful People From Everyone Else

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It is nice to hear from folks about our articles and this month I thought it would be good to write about an idea that Mike Leslie from Downeast Energy thought would be good to write about and that is “one thing that separates successful people from everyone else”. Being a good friend, Mike is in his own right a very successful guy in life and at work, so this article may resonate with Mike as an example of his own success.

Where to Start
To begin the journey, we need to understand success. The one thing I guess you would have to identify is what success means to people. This is a topic of more controversy than you might think. Success to some in this trying financial time might mean money or security, yet when I ask people what success means to them in workshops and in our coaching meetings, money or security is seldom mentioned. The usual response in workshops is that success is about happiness, a sense of accomplishment in the work and a feeling of being valued. Emotionally, the last 18 months have been tough on people and I think it has caused us to rethink the success thing. We do know a few things that are common sense. The more successful you feel, the greater the chance that you will do quality work with a minimum of stress. People who feel unsuccessful tend to be unhappy and unhappy doesn’t make for a great life. To feel successful is what counts in the long run.

Common Ground
Successful people all have a few things in common. They tend to be optimists. They also seem to have lots of self confidence and they like to work with others. Optimism is the fuel that gets people out of bed each day. Self-confidence is a belief in your ability to persevere and working with others requires patience, humility, and selflessness. Feeling that the world could be a better place today because of something you can be a part of is critical while not yielding to “the sky is falling” mindset that seems to permeate the evening news and ties to our greatest fears. Put another way:

  • Optimism is not surrendering to the fear of all bad things from each event in life.
  • Self Confidence is overcoming fear with the belief that you will succeed.
  • Team Work is not being afraid to work with others regardless your or their skills or behaviors.

Now to the One Thing – Overcoming Fear
Years ago, a good friend of mine named Howard told me that fear was the strongest motivator and at the time I was quick to disagree. As a young man it became apparent to me that fear was simply an obstacle that got in the way of doing what I wanted or needed to do and I learned to face fear as part of the routine of life. So much so that I kind of lost track of the power fear has on many people.

As years go by, I find myself attracted to courageous people and notice I’m not alone. Being around someone with courage of conviction, humility, and confidence is so powerful that I think it has become the final ingredient in success. Contrast that with the person who throws up obstacles around their success such as bad behavior, lack of belief and the ever present entitlement. For this contrasting group it appears it is easier to define why they haven’t realized success than it is to create success. What you are generally hearing is their fear.

Something to Consider
When I was young, a basketball coach was teaching me to shoot free throws and said something I remembered all these years later. He said; “Concentration, seriousness of purpose and follow-through is the secret.” Now, I never went on to be a great basketball player but the lesson stuck and has been a great metaphor for my life.

Not pretending to be a ‘free-throwing philosopher’ but having a pretty good read on all those successful people, I would like to say: Fear is the enemy. Believe in you before you doubt and remember that you “can” before you “can’t” and in all things place the “team” first.

It might be more than one thing but remember that fear is the enemy, and while you will never completely overcome fear (and you shouldn’t), keeping it a bay and away from what will make you successful is critical to you. For now, the best thing you can do is to become a student of successful people. As you watch you will see some characteristics of success that make sense. This is not coincidence, luck or the product of higher education. In the heat of day- to-day work life, practice eliminating fear and in the end this characteristic will help you be a magnet for others.

We love lots of feedback please. We want to know what you think and what you want us to write about. This newsletter should be a reflection of what you want.

Have a wonderful September!

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Ralph Twombly
Priority Learning

In the 20 years since starting Priority Learning, Ralph has facilitated countless learning experiences and has conducted training for thousands of managers and leaders. With over 30 years of leadership development and organizational development background and work, Ralph continues to build relationships with client companies all over the U.S.



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