Become 'the most likely to succeed'

2911 reads

Were you voted "most likely to succeed" back in high school?


That moniker had mixed implications.  A recent survey reported in The Wall Street Journal showed that about one third of the respondents described the award as a "burden," creating pressure to live up to expectations.  I suppose that could create some uncomfortable moments at the high school reunion.

But about 40 percent who received that designation found themselves more motivated to live up to the title.  They are probably the folks you call "the boss."

And then there are the rest of us.  We didn't necessarily have more brains, more talent, more money or more opportunities.  But we knew what we wanted and we had the desire to get there.

Success comes in many forms and means different things to different people.  In the working world, it is often defined as landing the perfect job, achieving a targeted income level, occupying a corner office, or owning a business.

However you measure it, success is sweet.  And it doesn't happen overnight.

Bumps in the road -- and there will be plenty of bumps -- can derail a successful career and lead down a path of negativity.  Discouragement, disappointments, even occasional failures are not the end of the road.  Reroute your thinking.  Zero in on your achievements.  Take a success inventory.  Focus on these five categories:

  1. Education.  List the classes you have completed, the degrees you have earned, professional certifications and specialized training.
  2. Professional positions. Include every major job you've ever had, and identify the responsibilities and authority you held.  Don't forget those entry level positions that probably taught you lessons you will never forget.
  3. Projects.  Start with the job-related projects that have been successful because of your contributions.  Then move on to volunteer projects that worked with your involvement.  You should also make note of community events, church activities and hobbies that you are proud of.
  4. Accomplishments.  This category is for career achievements such as awards, promotions, significant praise from supervisors, letters of commendation, or recognition that represents your importance to your organization, community, family or self.
  5. Potential.  What are you prepared to do with all that successful experience?  Is throwing in the towel an option anymore?

Now make your list work for you.  You did it before and you can certainly do it again.  Instead of being overwhelmed by failure, be inspired by success.

Rethink your strategy if necessary.  Surround yourself with positive people who can provide the encouragement that will help you realize what is possible.

Re-evaluate your goals.  Are they realistic, achievable, specific and measurable?  All those components are necessary if you want to measure your success.  How else will you know if you have succeeded?

Focus on improvement, not perfection.  You can always do more, achieve more, get more.  Track your progress so you can see how much closer you have come to reaching your goals and ultimate success.

Be proactive.  Create your own opportunities by working on what you can control instead of what's beyond your reach.  Before you know it, more will be within your reach.

Don't be afraid to fail.  Put your ideas out there and give them a chance to succeed.  Learn from your mistakes.  The annals of business history are full of stories of how splendid successes resulted from colossal failures.  Make history repeat itself!

A man walking down a narrow, twisting road spotted a guru sitting on the grass in meditation.  He approached the guru and asked, "Excuse me, master, is this the road to success?"

The old man nodded silently and pointed in the direction the traveler was headed.  The traveler thanked the guru and went on his way.

An hour later, the traveler returned, bleeding, exhausted and angry.

"Why did you tell me that was the road to success?" he asked the guru.  "I walked that way, and right away I fell into a ditch so deep it took me almost an hour to climb out.  Why did you tell me to go that way?  Was that some kind of joke?"

The guru stared at him.  After a long pause, he started to speak.  "That is the road to success.  It lies just beyond the ditch."

Mackay's Moral:  It's never too late to be "Most likely to succeed."


adamgrant's picture

Most Personality Quizzes Are Junk Science. I Found One That Isn’t.

Most Personality Quizzes Are Junk Science. I Found One That Isn't."The MBTI is astrology for nerds." Say it with me again: personality types are a myth, traits are on a continuum, and the major dimensions include extravert-introvert, agreeable-
changethis's picture

What If Sellers Behaved as Leaders?

“It is time we start making a shift. Research shows you can make more sales by abandoning sales-y behaviors buyers resist and replacing them with leadership behaviors buyers desire. Sellers do extraordinary things when they stop pushing people to
adamgrant's picture

Is Curiosity As Good at Predicting Children’s Reading, Math Success as Self-Control? Study Says Yes

The joy of discovery matters as much as self-control, and matters even more for low-income children. We need to encourage kids to ask novel questions, not just give familiar answers.Ever since the landmark "marshmallow test" highlighted the
danielhpink's picture

PINKCAST: This is when to quit your job

Should you stay or should you go? After a few years at the same job, many of us begin asking that question.In the latest Pinkcast, former Wall Street analyst and venture capitalist Whitney Johnson offers the answer. You can watch the 136-second
changethis's picture

The Speed Trap: When Taking Your Time (Really) Matters

“Speed-for-speed’s-sake is about the most counterproductive* approach imaginable. (*I use counterproductive because it’s impolite to use “stupid”—which is what I really believe.)While we must indeed evolve and experiment rapidly, the process of
adamgrant's picture

How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You)

This is a post about something I’ve been wanting to write about forever: careers. Society tells us a lot of things about what we should want in a career and what the possibilities are—which is weird because I’m pretty sure society knows very little
danielhpink's picture

WHAT TO LISTEN TO: Some audiobooks are more equal than others

“Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the popholes.”So begins Animal Farm, George Orwell’s classic novella. I’ve read Animal Farm many times. But now, for the first time, I’m
changethis's picture

Beyond Business Results: Achieving Sustainable Success

“For most of my career, I focused on my next professional opportunity rather than on my present situation. I was committed to serving patients and to helping my company meet its goals; I was always looking down the line to what was coming next. What
danielhpink's picture

WHAT TO WATCH: The Happiest Guy in the World

Two decades ago, Mario Salcedo retired from his job and went on a cruise. He never came back. Mario wasn’t lost at sea. For more than 20 years, he's been a permanent resident on Royal Caribbean Cruises. You read that right. “Super Mario” has