Wednesday, August 8, 2012


I have written about "success" in the past. What is it, how do you define it, how should we view it, etc. In this blog I want to look at another aspect of success. What determines whether or not a specific person will attain financial success?

It's interesting to listen to people talk about the success of others. I think these conversations offer a direct window into the talker's personality and general disposition on success. It is also really interesting to hear someone discuss the success of someone they only know about through the media. How can they possibly know all the events that led to someone's success?

This is one of those "age old questions." If we can determine what makes someone financially successful, theoretically, we can mimic the actions and thus repeat the outcome. The problem arises in cooking one's success down to a list of actions, providence, connections, etc. that is repeatable. Here are some things I have seen people "blame" other people's success on.
  • they were born into it--i.e. it was nothing they accomplished
  • God blessed them randomly
  • they are of a certain race/religion/sex/creed/ethnicity
  • they cheated others to get there
  • they were "just lucky" (many variations--right place, right time, pure luck, happenstance that something caught on, etc.)
  • they worked their butt off
  • they made the right connections
  • they kissed the right rear ends
  • they earned it (though I don't hear this one enough)
So which of these is "typically" responsible for success? I tend to think that it is never one or two things that lead to a person's success. Take Bill Gates. What did he do to become financially successful? He invented/created/devoloped something. Did he do it alone? Was he just walking along and "WHAMMO" he has this computer and operating system and whatever else? How did he get the knowledge necessary to develop his ticket to success? Once he had it, how did he know what to do with it in order to actually turn the product into $$$? How did he know how to sustain growth at his upstart company?  How did he finance his upstart company? What made him more successful than the Commodore people and the Tandy people? There is always more to it than just having a great idea.

My point is this, we tend to look back at the long, long road some successful person has traveled and pick a few "milestones" in that person's life that we think are the only important episodes in their success. We do that because it gives us hope. If we could just have that golden idea...If I could just meet that angel investor...If the right person would notice me...If, if, if. The truth is, in order to attain that success we want, we have to take thousands and thousands of baby steps toward the goal. Hopefully we never actually reach it. Successful people never stop developing. That's why they are successful. Notice I didn't say "never stop working." Working and developing are not the same. The cool thing about developing is that you don't have to pick one single, narrow path to focus on. You CAN do that but you don't HAVE to. Some of the best ideas are offshoots of offshoots of other ideas. You just have to be open to receiving those ideas when they come. In the meantime, connect to people, be curious, develop yourself. You are the most valuable resource you own.

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