The Formula for Success
The Seven Essential Factors
Twenty-five years of research into the differences between successful people and those who struggle to improve their circumstances, but never manage to reach their goals, has led me to one clear conclusion; wealth and success are not possible without the presence of the seven essential factors identified in this article.
No matter how much you study the “how to’s” of success, you will never achieve it until these five factors are in place and developed to healthy levels. Without them you are either spinning your wheels (working very hard, but not getting very far) or simply gathering information and storing it away.
The good news is that the information you have gathered over the years in an attempt to become successful is wasted ONLY if you fail to develop these five essential factors. Once these essentials are in place, everything else you have learned can then be applied to whatever degree you choose to apply it and you will begin experiencing the successes you long for.
(1) A clear awareness of your TRUE nature. Few people think about self-awareness because it appears to be the most natural thing in the world. After all we live with ourselves twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We are privy to all our thoughts and feelings and all our secrets. Who could possibly know us better, right? Wrong. Research suggests that the majority of the population (84%) is not self aware enough to profile accurately. Why? Because conditioning begins for most people very early in life and continues to impact us in ways we rarely recognize. Most of us are so thoroughly conditioned as children that by the time we reach adulthood all we are able to see is the conditioned mask we donned as children in order to be accepted and acceptable by our family, our school systems, our society, our religion, our co-workers, etc.
If we believe the mask is our true self and make life decisions based on that false view, we often set ourselves up for a lifetime of struggle. Those who are functioning according to the conditioned mask rather than according to their true nature, are essentially swimming up the swift river of life, always struggling to keep up with the demands of the world, rather than floating gently down life’s river in accordance with their nature. To the degree that we have been conditioned away from our nature, life is difficult. To the degree that we are working with, rather than against, out nature, life is satisfying and joyous.
(2) Clarity of purpose and direction. As the old adage state, if you don't know where you are going, you are likely to end up some place you don't like. Few things are more important than clarity, yet few people take the time to lay out goals and determine the steps that will get them to their intended destination. In fact, many people don't even have a destination in mind. People tend to experience success to the degree they have clarity.
(3) The healthy development of your natural traits. In truth, all traits available to human beings are available to each of us, but some traits are difficult to sustain. We can do anything we put our mind to, but we don’t enjoy or have energy around just anything. Our least preferred traits are effortful. They drain us of energy so we have a lot of resistance around them. The traits we most prefer naturally are easy to sustain over long periods of time. They actually feed our soul and generate huge amounts of energy, enthusiasm, motivation, and drive. The graph below demonstrates this concept.
You have a whole brain and the capacity to use every part of it and I encourage you to do just that. But you only have so much energy to give and, if you are giving it to traits that drain you, a lot of energy is being wasted and you are likely not having much fun either. By discovering your true nature and knowing which traits energize you and which ones drain you, you can order your life in such a way as to have the greatest part of it be joyous and filled with positive energy.
Only through the healthy development of our natural traits and through using them in the right order can we tap into our genius and passion and develop Emotional Intelligence (EQ), the ability to cope with stressors effectively and to defer gratification in order to do the right thing in the moment.
Emotional Intelligence popularized by Daniel Goleman in his book by the same name has been shown to be the number one predictor of effectiveness in life and relationships. But EQ is possible only through the healthy development of naturally preferred traits and we cannot develop them until we are aware of what they are. For EQ to develop to really healthy levels all five of the factors presented here must be developed.
(4) Healthy Personal Boundaries. Healthy personal boundaries are not possible until we know who we are authentically. Healthy personal boundaries require that we know and can define who we are and who we are not, as well as what we are and are not willing to accept from self and others. Only when you are fully aware of who you are authentically, and what parts of your self-perception have been forced upon you by conditioning and erroneous messages, can you separate the two, lay claim to your truth and purposefully discard all the garbage others have heaped upon you over the years. Once you know who you are, where your passions lie, and what you really stand for, it’s much easier to determine your worth.
Once you have established your worth in your own mind you can more easily build and maintain the second part of your personal boundaries, that of determining what you will and will not accept from others. With good, healthy personal boundaries in place, the fifth factor begins to develop and grow. To have healthy personal boundaries, you must be able to define and articulate four things; (1) Who you are, (2) Who you are NOT, (3) What you will accept from yourself and from others, and (4) What you will NOT accept.
(5) Self-Confidence. Self-confidence is the factor that convinces us that we are capable of achieving whatever goals we set for ourselves. Confidence around anything is a product of knowledge, experience and positive feedback and, without knowledge of SELF self-Confidence is not possible because we don't know who we really are or where we should be headed in life. Our internal compass is working; always pointing True North, but we don't know how to read it so are forever lost. And lost people are never truly confident.
Notice that the first part of the confidence formula (Knowledge + Experience + Positive Feedback = Confidence) is knowledge. Without true self-knowledge we cannot experience our truth and, without experience, we cannot give ourselves positive feedback or believe the positive feedback we receive from others. If you have ever tried to give a genuine compliment to someone who doesn’t believe in their self, you know that they don’t accept compliments very well. Many don’t accept them at all. When others compliment them, they either assume the person is just trying to manipulate them or is too blind to see the truth. Without the ability to receive positive feedback from self or others, confidence is not possible.
(7) Self-esteem. Self-esteem is the factor that tells us we are worth whatever effort it takes to achieve our goals and realize our dreams. Self-esteem in combination with self-confidence is essential to success. We must believe that we are worthy of the continued effort that is necessary to keep moving toward our goals in spite of the trials and tribulations that life continues to present to us on a regular basis (self-esteem) and we must believe we are capable of getting past them (self-confidence).
Self-esteem; the belief that we are worth the effort, is absolutely essential for follow-through. Without it, we just buy the books, attend the seminars, buy the gym memberships, make the New Years' resolutions and so on, but never follow through. We have to believe we are worth the effort or we won’t keep making the effort. But we can’t have self-esteem until the other four factors are in place.
We have to know who we are to determine where our passions lay (self-awareness). We must have our natural attributes developed and healthy to turn our passions into worthwhile goals (healthy development of natural traits). We must have the depth of awareness and strength of conviction to keep ourselves tracking authentically and to prevent the agendas of others from pulling us off course and derailing our efforts to achieve the goals we set for ourselves (personal boundaries). We must believe we can reach the goals we set before we will seriously pursue them (self-confidence) and we must know we are worth the effort (self-esteem).
(7) Effective self-management. This is the piece Daniel Goleman calls emotional intelligence or EQ. It is the ability to manage our own emotions and delay gratification for the greater good. Research suggests that less than 5% of the general population has developed this essential attribute.
Once these seven factors are in place, then having the particular knowledge that will help you successfully navigate your chosen path comes into play. AFTER; not before. If information on HOW to get rich or HOW to stay fit and healthy or HOW to have great relationships was enough, we could all just read a few good books and be everything we ever wanted to be. But, in spite of having hundreds of thousands of books, tapes, seminars, etc. at our disposal, most people never achieve success to anywhere near the extent they desire. The internal work has to be done first. If it isn't, you are just wasting your time and money.
Even people like Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling who rose to the top of Enron and made a fortune before the Enron scheme fell apart, had a strong sense of self, certain traits developed (though not likely healthy), personal boundaries that kept them from allowing others to infringe on them (never mind that they infringed on others), plenty of self-confidence and self-esteem. Clearly they believed they could pull off their scheme and that they were worth the effort, the money, the success, etc.
The Enron story also makes it perfectly clear that success is possible without principles such as honesty and integrity. Lay and Skilling appear to have been lacking in those values, yet they were, at least for a time, very successful. While principles and values may be optional, you MUST have the five factors outlined above. And it is my belief that to have true and lasting abundance, you must also have principles and values, such as honesty, integrity, generosity and consideration of others in place as well.
Principles and values are to abundance what nutrition is to the body. The human body can sustain itself for a very long time without nutrition, but if nutrition remains lacking eventually the body begins to break down, falls ill and dies. The same holds true for what appears to be abundance. The facade can be sustained for some time before the walls come tumbling down, but you can be sure that what you see on the outside really is just a facade. On the inside things are slowly (or perhaps rapidly) falling apart.
Absolutely every person you will ever run across that is truly successful has all five of the essential factors presented here in place. Every person who is unsuccessful has one or more of the essential five missing; sometimes all five.
To gain all five essential factors, you MUST begin with self-awareness. There is no other way to genuinely have the other four. And if you are not happy and content with who you are – not necessarily where you are in life – but who you are, you can bet that you don’t have sufficient self-awareness. You don’t know your authentic self. I can state that pretty safely because everyone loves the self that nature gave them. In 25 years of working with people, I have never seen a single exception to that truth.
The only tool I know of that can get past the effects of conditioning and uncover an individual’s true nature is the CORE Multidimensional Awareness Profile (CORE MAP). It is truly a MAP to the CORE of your being; to your authentic self. No other tool I have ever seen, and I have searched for 30 years, has the ability to do so much, so quickly and effectively. If you are not certain that you are functioning from your authentic self, you owe it to yourself to experience CORE MAP.
You have the formula now. The rest is up to you. Find your truth and your passion will become apparent. Find your passion and your motivation to realize it will drive you toward your goals automatically. Begin moving toward your goals and your sense of self will grow stronger and healthier because you will begin experiencing successes. As your sense of self grows stronger and your successes multiply, your self-confidence and self-esteem will increase and you will stop allowing the opinions of others to negatively impact you. It’s a beautiful circle that begins with you (the real you) and results in your overall happiness and success.
Enjoy the journey!
Article by Sherry Buffington, Ph.D.
Sherry Buffington, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of the Dallas based training, consulting and coaching firm, Star Performance Systems, which specializes in helping individuals succeed and organizations increase their productivity and profits by maximizing the potential of their people.