|Hard work not key to success
Some time ago I relocated my business, and that required a dreaded
task: cleaning out the top drawer of my desk. Along with several
old business cards, 29-cent stamps and a few "thank you"
notes, I came upon a reprint of a speech delivered more than 60
years ago in Philadelphia at a seminar for insurance salespeople
by a long-since-dead policy peddler named Albert Gray.
Why would I keep a copy of a talk delivered before I was born to
an industry I have no interest in? I asked myself that same question.
Then I read it and understood.
Gray was answering a question I had often asked myself: what is
the prescription for success? Like me, he had been taught that success
comes from hard work. But then he looked at some of the most successful
people in the world, and saw that concept for what it is: baloney.
So, if hard work isn't the secret, what is?
Gray said he studied the lives of the rich and famous of his day.
He came to the conclusion that their secret was not only in what
they did but also in why they did it. According to Gray successful
people, like those who are not successful, have distastes for performing
many of the same tasks and functions. But those who are successful
make a habit of doing what needs to be done even if they don't want
to do it, while the failures simply don't do them at all.
Wow! That's a definition I can relate to. We are talking simple
here. Let's see if, upon examination, it loses its simplicity. What
are some of the things failures should do but don't do?
1. Set specific goals and review them often. I continue to be amazed
at how many people choose not to make this a habit. Study after
study shows how fruitful this routine can be. Yet fewer than 5 percent
do it consistently. A Yale study showed that the 3 percent of its
alumni who performed this sometimes tedious function outearned the
97 percent who didn't.
2. Prioritize time; do first things first. Making lists, numbering
the tasks in order of importance and completing them in that order
is a simple task that failures refuse to do while the successful
make a habit of it; whether they like it or not.
3. Call on people even if they don't seem to be receptive. Successful
entrepreneurs consider prospecting to be a basic activity to success,
but failures refuse to do it consistently. Meanwhile, the successful,
who may not enjoy the activity, habitually do what it takes to succeed.
4. Keep track of specific tasks performed and the outcomes. A friend
of mine puts it this way: "Winners talk in specifics; losers
talk in generalities." Successful people keep track. Keeping
track helps you reach out; reaching out helps you stretch; stretching
helps you grow.
Gray writes that the best way to create a habit is to link it to
a definite purpose that can be accomplished by keeping the habit
every day. If your purpose is strong enough, you will form habits
that will push you toward your purpose. For optimum success, Gray
says, you should make your purpose sentimental, not necessarily
Which is why I have decided to make a habit out of cleaning out
my top drawer more often; even though I don't like doing it.
But I did like reading those "thank you" notes, and that's
the real purpose behind the habit.
It isn't logical. But it is sentimental.
By Stephen W. Gibson, Brigham Young University - March 9, 2003