Success can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
Some find personal achievement in money, awards, diplomas.
Others in their name written in an old book, their name engraved on a crystal trophy, their name embedded in a terrazzo and brass star in a sidewalk…
And even other others pursue critical acclaim for their novel, movie, painting, song…
Depending on how much or how little of those things they have experienced in life, people can to a fair degree of certainty assess how successful they’ve been in their ventures when lost in a moment of reflection.
Whatever your notion of personal success may be though – you won’t get there alone.
Sure – drive, ambition, determination, consistency, attention to detail, mental toughness are all some of the key characteristics that will get you far but remember:
“No man is an island.”
To paraphrase what I heard Grayson Perry once say – whatever success you might have experienced up until this point, it would be foolish to think that you did it all by yourself.
You’ve had many people behind the scenes support you in your journey up to this point.
You have them to thank for it.
Because without them – in all likelihood, you wouldn’t be here.
Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, friends, mentors, dissertation supervisors – they all could have had some bearing on whatever success you have already enjoyed in your life; they all could have influenced your life in both immeasurable and nuanced ways.
They – as well as new and special characters that have yet to appear in your life – will also be a big part of whatever success that you have yet to experience someday down the line.
To a vast extent, your personal success boils down to the people that will help you achieve it.
That is, to who you know and who you surround yourself with.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
To upgrade your notion of personal success, find the hotspots and surround yourself with phenomenal achievers.
In his book Making Ideas Happen, Scott Belsky observed that the success of a company is often built upon the shoulders of a handful of ‘go-to’ people.
“A study done in one large Fortune 500 company asked employees to complete a survey about who they go to for help.
Whether it was a computer question, a finance inquiry, or something about the history of the business, employees were asked to provide the names of their ‘go-to’ people.
Once the data points were collected, researchers mapped it out to graphically illustrate the flows of information. It quickly became clear that there were various particularly active ‘nodes’ of information.
Scattered throughout the organization, a handful of people functioned as the dominant go-to people who everyone else relied upon.”
Scott calls these valuable people hot spots.
Hot spots, he emphasises, are people with a huge amount of social power.
Scott goes on to talk about how he spent some time with Malcolm Gladwell years ago and how Gladwell had made a strong case for people with social power.
Here’s Scott once again:
“Gladwell explained that social power is different than economic or political power. It is not correlated with status or demographics.
Rather, people with social power have the special ability to connect to other en masse. They tend to always be in the know, and they are respected, although not necessarily in a hierarchical way.”
Some time ago, I read a fantastic book that had changed the way I viewed university.
It compelled me to take action and make the most of my final year at uni, and gave me guidance and direction on how to accomplish that.
The book in question is Cal Newport’s How to Win at College and I was so impressed by it that I wrote a review of it.
One of the tips Cal mentioned in this book was related to phenomenal achievers.
Here’s Cal on what a phenomenal achiever is:
“What is a phenomenal achiever? Every school has them. It’s that rather nice math major who happens to be a Rhodes Scholar, NSF Graduate Fellowship winner, and author of a chapter in a calculus textbook.
Or that quiet drama major who has already produced two plays, won a bevy of creative awards, and is working seriously on his first novel.
Or that student assembly officer who just formed a statewide youth mentoring program, and works on national political campaigns during his off-terms.”
What Cal suggests is to make it a habit to find and meet these people as they will expand the scope of your ambition, inject an excitement into your life and a sense of possibility that will compel you to act so that you too become a phenomenal achiever as well.
“The idea here is to expose yourself to possibility. When you spend enough time talking-to phenomenal achiever, two things happen.
First, you will become inspired. The though of accomplishing the sort of achievements that fill these student’s résumés will pique your energy.
Second, learning from the details of their endeavours, you begin to notice how the interests in your life could feasibly lead to similar accomplishments.”
What You Can Do to Upgrade Your Notion of Personal Success
Make a habit out of reaching out to the hot spots; the people who have a wealth of information and have an uncanny ability to connect with people en masse.
But also empower these people who always seem to be in the know. Perhaps you could be the missing link in helping them get the recognition that they deserve.
Make a habit out of finding and meeting the phenomenal achievers.
If you spend enough time with phenomenal achievers, their traits will rub off on you and you will inevitably soak up all the intangible qualities that make them so phenomenal.
Phenomenal achievers operate on a specific brain frequency and by surrounding yourself with such people you tap into that frequency and ‘brainwash’ yourself into thinking like them.
Also, you learn about the various rituals, habits, and routines that are unique to them in supporting their ambition and long-term goals. By modelling these processes, you can model success.
Before you know it – you will also become a phenomenal achiever.
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