Where Does Success Come From?

SuccessWhat makes some people successful, and others not so? I’m mostly talking about in the business world, although it could be in any activity. What makes some people perform so much better than others? This is a question I’ve spent a lot of time – years, in fact – thinking about, and studying. I get excited just thinking about it, I’m so passionate about human performance. Okay, I may not be “normal,” but that’s just who I am.

So, what makes some people perform better than others?

Is it talent? Not entirely, if you follow the latest research (most of which is written about in the excellent book, Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin). Sure, it’s important, but as I talked about in a previous post (The Myth About Natural Talent) it’s not everything. In fact, it may be much less of the performance equation than many people think.

Is it skills and knowledge? Well, one certainly needs skills and knowledge to do a job well, but is that the key? Have you ever met anyone who is extremely skilled and knowledgeable, but who doesn’t perform very well? Have you ever seen a person with an impressive list of accreditations and accomplishments fail at a new job?

Is it focus? You know, being focused on the right things at the right time? That’s important, isn’t it?

Is it motivation? Sure. But not without the skills and knowledge to do the job. And the focus. Motivated mayhem does not lead to great performance.

Is it fit – you know, fitting into the culture of the company or team? That’s part of it. But again, without the skills and knowledge, and without being aimed in the right direction, fit isn’t everything.

Is it personality? Hey, that’s important. I’m sure you’ve seen very talented, very skilled, very knowledgeable, very motivated people who fit the culture of the company or team who failed. Why? Because their personality sucked. Okay, maybe not that bad, but let’s just say their personality didn’t fit with their co-workers or teammates.

Is it the person’s manager (or sports coach)? Yes, the manager plays a big role in how well someone performs, and that is going to impact how much success they have – I talked about this in a previous post, too (How Important Is Management?). In fact, I’m sure you’ve seen poor performers who were transformed into superstars by a different manager, and vice versa. But is it just a person’s manager?

Is it communication? Without good communication, no one is going to perform very well, right?

Is it the person’s own mission being in alignment with the company’s mission? Very important. But is it the most important factor?

My point here is that performance is not a simple thing. It’s not just one thing. Of course, everyone knows that, right? Then why do so many people look for the silver bullet, that one simple thing that is going to transform themselves or others into superstar performers?

I’m sure I’ve missed many factors here that lead to great performance, and to success. This is one of those posts that provides more questions than it does answers, so I’m waiting to hear your thoughts…

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