Don’t lose the horse while you are buying the saddle.
Editor’s note: This is part one of a two part series.
As children many of us were told that the formula to achieve successful in life involved identifying our goals and then working hard in pursuit of them.
In his book “Outliers: Stories of Success” Malcolm Gladwell shared storied of massively successful people, the “Outliers’ as he called them. Outliers were those people who are exceptional as an individual and who, in a field of expertise, were so superior that they defined their own category of success.
Bill Gates was a prime example discussed in Gladwell’s book.
Among the key factors that Gladwell observed as contributing to massive success was what he termed “Cultural Legacies”. These ‘Cultural Legacies’ occurred from being in the right place at the right time, with the right access to the right people and opportunities.
For example, Gladwell suggested that had Bill Gates been born at another time, say 5 years earlier or later or in another location, it is unlikely he would have found the massive success he has achieved.
It appeared to Gladwell that these cultural legacies when combined with ‘normal’ intelligence, and hard work were more than likely a significant contributor to finding massive success. Massive success, it appears, was a confluence of timing, opportunity, ability and hard work (Gladwell also famously referenced the10,000 hours of practice rule).
This ‘Cultural Legacy’ is likely a contributing factor to why certain groups of people, those who have more ‘privilege of opportunity’ (including race and gender, but also the privilege of living in certain geographic locations, being born at the right time and so on) are successful.
Gladwell did not say that success was only about luck, but it is reasonable to consider that a combination of being ‘lucky’ and taking advantage of the opportunities luck affords, are integral to achievement.
While it appears there are factors, some of which are a product of your access to opportunities, that significantly impact your ability to find success, the impact of opportunity on success does not preclude you from creating your own opportunities. There are steps you can take to try to increase you odds of being “lucking” and finding successes.
5 Steps for Increasing Small Business Success
If you are seeking to increase your odds of finding business success you can follow these 5 steps to create your own opportunities:
1. Having a vision and setting long term and short term actionable goals connected to that vision:
Having a vision or dream is important but it is taking the steps to identify the intermittent goals and actions you need to take that positions you to achieve success.
In his book “The Coming Jobs War”, Jim Clifton, the CEO of Gallup, noted that while delusional optimism was a component in success for many business leaders, that optimism was applied to the vision of the business and not to the execution of the vision. Having a vision is important, but clarify the adjustable steps required to achieve the vision imperative.
If you are not certain how to generate your vision, look inside you and identify your gifts and motivators.
Then look around you and see where there are needs that are not being filled. Imagine yourself making contributions and adding value and create a vision of what you do and who you can do it for.
2. Identify the resources you have and need and Create a plan to find and gather more resources:
Resources vary and include financial, technological, material, time, and importantly people resources. Gladwell observed that many successful people had and/or built strong people networks to help facilitate their success.
Both Bill Gates and Mark Zukerberg have talked about the importance of business mentors in their lives, Bill Gates referencing Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg citing Steve Jobs.
Inventory what you have and have access to and consider some strategic alliances to make the best use of your resources.
Next page- Steps 3 through 5 for Increasing Small Business Success