When I started my career at The National Institutes of Health, I wanted to discover what makes some people more successful than others. But a year later, I realized we were only studying illness and dysfunction.
What more we could learn if we studied Highly Successful People (HSPs)? Are they using skills the rest of us aren’t? If so, can we develop ways to teach them? But when I proposed my idea in one of our weekly conferences, my audience laughed, and I had to make the most important decision creators ever face: Was I wrong about my idea? Or was I onto something BIG they just didn’t understand yet? I silently vowed to spend my career studying HSPs.
In 1983 when I introduced The Technology of Success (www.technologyofsuccess.com) it caught on! Within 10 years I facilitated over 4,000 training programs; CNN called me “America’s Premier Success and Leadership Coach;” and a hurricane gave me time to write The Joy of Success: 10 Essential Skills for Getting the Success You Want.
Next CEOs begged me to teach the skills to parents and teachers. They want our next generation to learn these skills at home “by example”, have them reinforced in school and already be using them when they enter the workplace … when they hire them! So I wrote Our Children Are Watching and introduced The Technology of Success in schools.
The 10 Success and Leadership Skills. Let’s start with the first two:
Skill One: Success Filing. HSPs have a habit. Instead of waiting for others to acknowledge them, they set aside time each day to acknowledge themselves, building Self-Confidence instead of depending on Other Confidence. They said Success has three essential parts: Completion, finishing plus acknowledging, Deletion, letting go of what isn’t working (Deletion is sometimes more important than Completion!), and Creation, birthing new approaches and building teams to develop them.
Growing up, we depended on our leaders to acknowledge us, but to be effective leaders, we need to Success File for ourselves and our teams’, setting aside time to acknowledge the tiny steps we’re taking toward our goals, building and rebuilding our Self-Confidence, energy and clarity.
Skill Two: Success and leadership have gears. But many leaders are using the wrong gear at the wrong time. And it’s creating Blur. What’s Blur? It’s stress, confusion, loss of energy and creativity. Let’s look more closely.
1st Gear: When we start learning new skills and jobs, we need to be taught what, how and when. We need constant input, supervision and correction.
1st Gear Keywords: right/wrong, good/bad, possible/impossible, control, permission, acknowledgment. But once we’re performing safely, effectively, consistently, our leaders need to gear us up, certify and promote us. (For better or worse, we sometimes override this.)
In 2nd Gear, we need to discover which 1st Gear rules and limits are still needed and which ones we can eliminate to become more efficient and competitive. Instead of constantly supervising us, our leaders need to assign projects, specify timeframes and rewards and be available to answer questions to safeguard our safety and our organization.
2nd Gear Keywords: more, better, faster, cheaper, productive, competitive, profitable. Sound familiar?
We shift up and down, working long and hard until a new approach emerges: How about? What if? This time we are in charge of when we need to shift.
3rd Gear Keywords: Aha/dream/codream/build team/lead/communicate/collaborate/invent.
Unlike cars with automatic transmissions, we sometimes use the wrong gear at the wrong time … following old rules and methods, relying on teammates to tell us what to do even though they aren’t experts. Or depending on managers who are attempting to lead us in the wrong gear … too controlling or not controlling enough, or so production-oriented and profit-driven that they fail to respond to new needs and circumstances.
Leadership errors multiplied when COVID impacted us, when familiar approaches no longer worked, when we had to learn to work remotely and manage remotely too. Some leaders stepped up to guide us out of Blur, ones like Eric Yuan, the CEO of Zoom; Apoorva Mehta, the creator of Instacart; and Kortina and Magdon-Ismail, who were graduate students at the U Penn when the idea of Venmo popped up.
To pull ahead in today’s Blurred, Covid-impacted world, we need to make time to look more closely at our success and leadership skillset. Are you using all 10 Skills? Or are you missing or misusing one or more? It’s time to find out.
And remember this: Impossible simply means it hasn’t been done yet … but you may just be the one to do it and lead the rest of us there too. In The Joy of Success I teach all 10 Skills. In Blur: Clear the Way Ahead I tell you how to use them ALL NOW.
Written by Susan Ford Collins.
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