Three Essential Characteristics for Success
People often ask me, “What do I need to do to be successful?”
The answer to that question depends on a lot of things, not the least of which is your personal definition of success. For some it’s money. For others, fame. Still others want freedom. There are many varieties of success, making a simple answer impossible.
That said, there are three characteristics that are essential for success–call them the minimum daily requirements. These three characteristics are energy, intelligence, and action.
Our society spends a lot of time talking about and working on energy, especially the physical kind. Health club memberships, nutritionists, personal trainers, vitamins and supplements, training equipment, and a mind-numbing array of paraphernalia to monitor our bodies, all pay testament to the seriousness with which we pursue physical health.
But emotional energy actually plays a bigger role in our health and ability to do the things we want to do. I’m often surprised at the number of people who suffer a funky sense of depression, despite bodies in top-notch condition. Frankly, I have days like that myself from time to time. There’s a terrific book on this subject called, “The Emotional Energy Factor:
Secrets High Energy People Use to Beat Emotional Fatigue,” by Mira Kirshenbaum. It’s a reassuring book that can inspire, too.
Intelligence goes way beyond IQ or the honing of a particular expertise. Howard Gardner’s work on Multiple Intelligences and Daniel Goleman’s on Emotional Intelligence open the door to a much broader understanding of the power of the human mind. This awakens a new demand for performance and raises the bar on success. From a practical standpoint, success involves understanding the way the world works around you, whether that’s a business, school, community, political system or family. Paying attention to the way you interact with others in your environment is an intelligent thing to do. Making choices about your interactions based on the consequences of them is even smarter.
Action is the last essential characteristic and it’s pretty self-explanatory. You can have incredible energy and extraordinary intellect, but if these are not applied toward accomplishing something, what good are they? The world is changed by people of action, not rumination. Practically speaking, if there is no satisfying outlet or means of applying your gifts, you run the risk of spinning your cognitive wheels into a pit of despair. I’ve seen it happen.
So there you have it. Three essential characteristics for success. They’re all accessible and at your disposal to shape however they make sense for your life. For optimum success, keep working at them. Today’s success represents tomorrow’s challenge.