Twelve steps to success

  • 2001-10-25
  • By Paul E. Adams
Step 1: Do you know who you are?

"No one is rich or poor who has not helped himself to be so." - German proverb

Last week I mentioned that over the next 12 weeks I will be describing how business success is yours for the asking. Here is the first installment.

Do you wonder why there are those charmed individuals whom the gods seem to favor? What is it they have that others don't?

Is it some mystical charm, the right fortune cookie, or something more down to earth such as knowing who they really are and what they want out of life?

Here is a clue to your future success as an entrepreneur - can you predict how you are going to react to stress or success? Most successful people can.

Psychologists are quick to tell us that before you can accomplish your goals you must have some understanding of who you are - your strengths, your limitations, and your ability to apply yourself to get what you want from life.

Whatever you dream of doing, remember you will bring your personality to your adventure. Your habits, your views on life, and your attitude are the luggage you will carry with you. So before starting out, take some time to find out who you are.

Let me tell you about Roger, who after losing his job borrowed from his parents to start a business. A year later, the sheriff padlocked the front door.

As Roger came to understand later, his motivation to start a business was an emotional need to prove his employer wrong, not the challenges and freedom of self-employment.

Before you can get the world to respond to your wants, you must discover what turns you on. Are you focused, or do you meander through life hoping for a miracle to bring you riches and fame? Are you in the audience or on the stage? Do you lead or follow? Do you want betterment or comfort? A successful life can be yours, once you define your desires and drive.

Starting and managing a business is far from easy. It is full of challenges and problems, and it is how you react and cope with disappointment, frustration, and the emotions of success that will determine your success or failure.

Before you undertake a pile of problems, you should be aware of your coping skills. Don't wait until you have the problem before finding out if you have the talents to solve it.

To understand yourself is to know how you will behave and react to all manner of situations, pleasant and unpleasant. For example, I thought I could easily handle change, but after a number of instances I found just the opposite. I have learned that the successful outcome of my problems depends on my ability to cope.

Your success will follow your actions, the right actions. If you understand yourself, you will have an inner sense on how to react to challenges and rewards.

Test yourself. How do you relate to the following questions?

1. Do you understand your motives for your actions? Or do you just act on impulse? Impulsive acts in business can lead to failure.

2. Do you want something because others have it? Or are your wants based on reality and real need? Envy is not good business sense or rational behavior.

3. Do you know what leadership is? Or do you have some romantic notion about leading the charge?

4. Can you accept disagreement? Or does it escalate to an argument to prove you are right? Not a good sign of management skills.

5. Can you stand confrontation? Or do you say "yes" when you really mean no? Success in business means saying no when the demand is not in your best interest.

6. Do you need the glory of success to feed your ego? If so, your insecurities are showing.

7. Can you share? Or do you need all the marbles to feel important? Teamwork builds a successful business, not a monarchy.

8. Can you make decisions? Or are you afraid of making a mistake? Fear causes procrastination and can lead to failure.

9. Do you follow through? Or just assume "it will happen"? A lack of follow-up is typical of poor performance.

10. Do you give up too soon? If you do, you may be missing out.

11. Do you look for shortcuts to success, putting effort and honesty aside? There are few shortcuts to long-term success, only eventual failure.

Do any of these questions touch home? If so, you have your first assignment.

Getting what you want in life is knowing why you do the things you do. What drives us to accomplishment or to self destruction? When we uncover these hidden forces of our personality, we have taken the first step to an adventure in success.

You will find that self-examination is a lot less painful than failure. Next week's installment is about a "sense of urgency," or getting things done.