19 Behaviour patterns to keep you on track for success
Being successful in business might be about luck; but luck often follows hard work – but hard work isn’t enough on its own. So many other things make a difference, and in bringing all the ingredients together in the right proportions underwrites any success you might achieve. How much of yourself can you see in these 19 behaviours? Are they part of your strategy to be more successful? We’d like to think so.
1. Self-development: An older colleague once said to me: “The older I get, the less I know.” He didn’t mean he was forgetting things; in fact he was alluding to the opposite. As he grew older and learned more, he realised the bounds of human knowledge stretched far beyond what he could imagine, and even though he was learning more, it was a smaller and smaller proportion of what was out there to be learned. Successful people continuously assimilate knowledge in all manner of things, feeding an insatiable curiosity.
2. Immerse in everything: Never let anything pass you by. Get involved in the detail. Explore with a view to understanding. The more you know, the more erudite you can appear to be, and the more people will be pleased to be in your company. In turn, that will allow you to learn more, and you’ll find yourself in an upward spiral of knowledge.
3. Gather experiences: Experiences are far more valuable than things. They’ll make you more interesting, and more fun to be around. At its simplest level an elderly aunt might be given bath salts for her birthday, but would get far more value and better memories from being taken to an up-market restaurant. Think of your own social interactions in the same context
4. Dine together: Food and drink are great levellers; superb conduits for relaxed and easy conversation. Shared mealtimes – or coffee breaks – present opportunities to feed the mind and soul as well as the body. Everyone involved can deliver something useful for everyone else. After all, in a business setting we often talk of bringing something to the table…
5. Own up: Did you get it wrong? Then say so. You’re only human, after all don’t try to hide behind mealy-mouthed excuses. Never seek to pin the blame on someone else. A quick admission of fault, and bold steps taken to put matters right will enhance your reputation more than feeble attempts to dodge the bullet of blame. Truth will be out in the end.
6. Mix work and play: Neither work nor relaxation have to be mutually exclusive. Just because it’s not working hours doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage in a relaxed discussion about a work-related topic, make some notes about how to resolve a problem, or even set your mind at rest over a difficult task. If you need to take an hour to work in an evening, the benefit may be peace of mind that helps you to sleep better as a result.
7. Leave the side of the pool: Taking risks is part of succeeding at anything. Without taking risks the Wright Brothers would never have taken to the air; Sir Edmund Hilary would never have got to the top of Everest, and Christian Barnard would never have pioneered heart transplant surgery. However, before kicking out for the centre of the pool, check for crocodiles first. Taking risks is fine, but let’s not be foolish about it. Understand what you’re getting into, and what could go wrong.
8. It doesn’t have to be complicated: Simple solutions to any problem are the best, every time, and are often the most innovative. Just because they’re simple doesn’t mean they’ve never been tried before. Successful people aim for the simplest solution – but that doesn’t necessarily mean the journey to the solution is also simple. The reverse can often be true, but it’s worth sticking at it.
9. Work with the best: Few individuals are better than the sum of the others they work with, so it makes sense to work with the best people you can find. “Best’ doesn’t necessarily mean the cleverest academically, but includes those with insight; the hard workers, the creative types. All have something to bring to the party. What you need are passionate people; it’s the passion that pays dividends.
10. Recognise the value of time: Time is the most finite resource we have, and we need to pack into it as much as we can. Achieve something today and you can build on that achievement tomorrow. Do nothing today and that’s what you’ll start with tomorrow: nothing. Remember that failing to take a decision is a decision not to act.
11. Speak wise words wisely: Language is arguably the most powerful tool at our disposal. Language is rich with wonderful words. Use the right ones in the right context, and the results can be remarkable. Think about Martyn Luther King and JFK. The way they used language made it more powerful than the words alone; they made people want to do things. Successful people do the same thing every day, and there’s no reason why you can’t.
12. Don’t be too easily hurt: If you’re succeeding, there will always be someone who wants to bring you down. Their reasons will be many, but will often be based on no more than jealousy or envy. Don’t let those people get to you. Understand the bigger picture, draw strength from your achievements, and allow yourself to silence the critics from within.
13. Meet other cultures: We always have things to learn from other people. Interacting with people outside our own social circle, faith or community helps us to all understand each other – and we can share what we learn within our own circle. And if we all talked more, then we might learn enough to stop the tide of violence which seems to be sweeping the world.
14. Make yourself understood: Do away with clichés and ‘padding’ in your speech. Pare down what you say to the simplest form, and you’ll not be misunderstood. How often do you hear: “For myself, personally, I think…”, or “I wanted to run something up the flagpole…” What’s wrong with “I think…” or “I’ve had an idea…”. Excessive ‘flowering up’ of language is often used to mask a lack of confidence. Be brave. Keep it simple.
15. Don’t take yourself too seriously: Lighten up; laugh at yourself. Happy people work better than miserable ones, so whatever you can do to keep the mood light will make the day go faster and the work get done more promptly
16. Don’t get angry: Shouting and screaming at people is counter-productive, especially in a leader. They’ll be more likely to keep things from you, for fear of unleashing more bad temper, or they’ll avoid you altogether. Be assertive, by all means, but losing your temper shows that you’re not in control.
17. Don’t try to do everything: No-one can do everything. Involve people who can help you because they have a skill set that you don’t. Pay them by reciprocating from your own knowledge base.
18. Guard your reputation: It can take years to build a reputation, and seconds to destroy it. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t be comfortable seeing on the early evening news.
19. Don’t tell ’em everything: Like a magician revealing how he performed a trick, sharing everything about what you’ve done can destroy not only the mystique but also your bank balance. Always keep a little bit back; it can change your life. Being too open and honest cost Philo T Farnsworth, pictured, a great deal of money, and his rightful place in history, because he shared secrets about technology he’d invented; technology that made possible electronic television as we know it today. Had you heard of him until now..? Thought not.