Whether a person will succeed in his pursuits and endeavors is an important question. And, this question has been answered in a lot of ways since antiquity.
Right from Shamans and Oracles in the ancient times to Philosophers and Psychologists in relatively recent times, there have been right and wrong ways of predicting what makes a person succeed.
What contributes to success? Is it mere destiny? Is it in the genes? Does it have to do with physical prowess? Does it have to do with the intelligence someone is born with? Or, is it some queer combination of all these things.
These questions are central to the success of business organizations also. After all, it is the successful people that make successful organizations. And yet, most organizations do poorly at identifying people who have what it takes to succeed. According to research, most of the traditional interviews are no better than a flip of a coin in selecting the right candidate. Even while using various assessment tools some of the most important aspects of personality that contribute to success are ignored. Tomes have been written on the topic. Various models and assessments have been devised (with varying degrees of accuracy). But, in my opinion, most of the scientific models that predict the level of success an individual would achieve in his life, tend to converge to three important things : Goals, Grit, and Gratitude
Goals – What do you want? Where do you want to go? How do you define success?
I’m a big fan of the reality show “Shark Tank”. In the last episode, there came a strong women entrepreneur with a product based on Paleo Diet. The product was good, the entrepreneur was hardworking and sincere. However, she couldn’t convince any of the sharks to invest in her enterprise. The Sharks felt that she had spread herself too thin. She was a Dental Hygienist, a Gym Instructor, and an Entrepreneur – all in one. She was working too hard but was not laser focused on her goal. All successful people are dreamers and visionaries. They know what they want. The absolute details may be something that they figure out as they proceed. But, they know where they are going and what being successful means to them. And then they put all their focus and attention in achieving that one goal. An important part of the goal is also how the goal would be achieved. The successful people know what they’d not negotiate with, what their guiding values and principles are, and what they’d do to achieve what they want.
Grit – Are you committed to your long term goals? Do you believe that it’s the concerted efforts that would help you succeed not mere ability or intelligence? Do you show persistence in dealing with the most difficult parts of achieving your goal? Do you try despite failures and setbacks?
We know the real life story of the poor villager, Dashrath Manjhi, who single-handedly cut a mountain over 30 years to build a road. We also know the stories of successful athletes, artists, authors, corporate leaders, who devoted their lives to a cause and then pursued it without wavering till the end. What we find in all these successful people is something called “Grit”. Grit is the ability to commit to long term goals and then persist even in face of failures. It is the ability to try the most difficult parts of the skills you’re trying to master. It is the awareness that efforts, not ability alone, are required for success. Without Grit, you would avoid taking up difficult targets for the fear of failure. Without it, you’d give up at the first signs of failure. In the landmark essay “The Common Denominator of Success”, EN Gray said that successful people do things that others don’t like doing, not because they like doing those things, but because for them their goal is more important than their personal likes and dislikes. Unsuccessful people shy away from discomfort but successful people thrive on it. Without Grit, you just can’t succeed in your endeavors.
Gratitude – Rather than looking at what you don’t have, do you feel blessed to have whatever you have? Are you thankful to those who helped you on the way – your parents, teachers, friends, even the strangers? Do you feel that you owe something to the world?
Today morning, as I was driving to office, I saw traffic jam ahead of me because of traffic barricades put up by the police to control traffic. The reason was a religious procession on the road. I saw these people happily singing devotional songs and dancing to the tune of their basic musical instruments. All this while getting drenched in the rain. And there I was a little frustrated that I was stuck in the traffic. But, as I passed beside the group, I felt a feeling of bliss. You don’t need the fortunes of the world to feel happy. Happiness requires a feeling of gratitude. A person who is not grateful will always feel inadequate and unfulfilled. He’d always focus on what’s lacking in his life. He’d complain of not having enough. Because of this mindset of scarcity, he’d not even think of leaving behind a legacy, which is a hallmark of success. Success ultimately is not about what you receive from the world. It is rather about how much you give. It is the feeling of gratitude, of being blessed, that gives one a mindset of abundance and generous heart to give back to the society.
It is difficult to capture the enormity of human potential in a model. There are factors at work which are beyond the comprehension of most of us. But, I believe that these 3 Gs can act as a reasonably reliable guide in determining the potential of an individual to succeed in their endeavors. Let me know of your views and opinions.
This is a guest post by Ashutosh Sharma, General Manager – Corporate HR with Deepak Fertilisers and Petrochemical Corp. Ltd.Ashutosh is the author of the books – Campus to Corporate – Managing the Transition and Corporate Training FactPack.
An Electrical Engineer from Delhi College of Engineering, Ashutosh moved to the field of HR, quite early in his career, following his interest in the people aspect of running businesses. In a career spanning 14 years, he has worked with SRF Ltd, Confederation of Indian Industry, GMR Group, and is currently working at DFPCL . You may know more about him here.