Their answers included a wide variety of specifics, but
to an astonishing degree, 7 items came up in every
discussion. I've called them the "Seven Sisters of
Success", and want to share them with you.
The first thing that struck me about these men and
women was the degree to which they understood
themselves. They know their values and goals, and
are comfortable with the choices they have made in life.
They admitted some regrets and mistakes, but they
have made peace with the past and are eager,
confident and optimistic about the future.
2. Specific Goals.
Every single one of these 26 people have written
goals, ranging from 30-day projects to 10 year programs.
I was impressed that their goals are IN WRITING.
Athletes had performance targets, and the business
leaders had sales goals. They all had family or personal
goals that were just as detailed as their professional
objectives. The advice we have all heard about
writing down your goals really works!
3. Powerful Networks.
They all acknowledged their network of friends and
colleagues. Each one gave credit to a mentor or
friend who taught them the ropes, opened doors, or
gave them a chance when they needed it. They were
profoundly grateful and appreciated that success is the
result of partnering with many people over many years.
4. Surprising Idealism.
I was surprised at the degree to which these seasoned,
mature individuals openly discussed their ideals. Some
talked about religious beliefs, others framed it in political
or psychological terms, but they all want to make a
difference, fulfill a life-purpose, or pursue a dream. They
are motivated by a desire to create a better world, to
contribute, and to help others.
5. Intense Pragmatism.
Balanced with their idealism, these highly successful
people were extremely practical. They are solution-
focused, and use technology, information, and skills
to reach their most important goals. They were not
interested in theories, or in defending past choices or
old traditions. They use practical tools to help them
reach their goals.
6. Extraordinary Curiosity.
They observe culture, read the paper, read about their
industry, and try to learn about everything around them.
They read about politics and religion, they want to
know about the stock market and cooking. I was
surprised that most of them were not "experts" in the
usual sense, but they are extremely educated, bright
and curious. They have earned their doctorates in
"real life". Very interesting!
7. Personal Discipline.
They don't waste time, and they don't lie to themselves.
They don't exaggerate or minimize, and they don't generalize.
These people were precise when they spoke about their
age, relationships, business affairs or dreams. Numbers
and dates, dollars and cents were important to them, and
I found them easy to talk with, and very clear in their
What impressed me was that the keys to their success
were not related to family or background. They had not
been born wealthy, and only about half completed
college. They did not seem "driven" for success.
They did not make their fortunes in high-tech or by
winning a lottery. Instead, they followed a plan that
created persistent, high levels of success or a lifetime.
Each of these skills can be learned by anyone! There
are no "secrets" of success, and talent, family and
luck had little to do with it. These highly successful
people knew what they wanted, and used their networks,
hard work, patience and discipline to achieve
outstanding results. So can you!