What makes a person successful? Is it financial freedom? Is it the ability to have a good work-life balance? It is something else entirely?
According to Karen Dillon who is the former editor of Harvard Business Review magazine and co-author of three books with Clayton Christensen, Harvard professor and bestselling author of multiple books including, How Will You Measure Your Life? . By most accounts, she has been extremely successful in her career, and here are three thing she shared on the traits successful people share;
A Love Of Learning
Many successful people like to claim that they are where they are because they are more talented than their peers. Maybe they think that they see the world in a different way, or that they are better at taking risks or that they simply are more skilled than others at a particular thing. However, success has more to do with the fact that these individuals are lifelong learners. Successful people never stop learning things. Whether it’s about themselves, about their market, about their audience, etc. I think they see themselves as constantly learning. And that hunger for knowledge is what fuels them to be successful in everything that they do.
The Ability to Take a Setback and Keep Going
The ability to pick yourself up after a setback and keep going is crucial to being successful in business and in life. All business owners experience setbacks and failures along the way. Jeff Bezos started his career with an auction site called Zshops which failed. Arianna Huffington’s second book was rejected by publishers 36 times before getting picked up. Successful people are dogged and driven.
You Figure Things Out As You Progress
This is described as Emergent Strategy. For many business owners, they start with a deliberate strategy of how they want their business to succeed. They have a preconceived understanding and a clear path of how it should go and and a very clear vision of what we need to do to get there. But it’s very uncommon for businesses that are growing, experimenting, even getting off the ground to have a deliberate strategy prove successful. The majority of businesses are successful ultimately not with the initial strategy that they expected – but with something else that emerged as a strategy.
Here are a few examples:
YouTube started off as a kind of video dating service (slogan: “Tune in, hook up”.) Yelp originally started in 2004 as an automated system to get friends to give you direct recommendations. Starbucks started off in 1971 selling expresso machines and coffee beans. Most business plans go through changes after you get out there and start implementing them. You learn so much during the execution that informs and transforms the plan itself. This is the essence of an emergent strategy. You get into action and are open and learning along the way. This allows you to see opportunities that you never would have spotted at the front end of your race and to capitalize on them. And that’s the true secret to success. Being able to recognize an emergent strategy and implement it quickly.