But, I didn’t stop there. I did exactly the same process with regard to the good guys. I was on a roll now! I listed those people in my life whom I admire and look up to and have enough intimate knowledge about to really know how they do what they do. These are people whom I have seen succeed, overcome, conquer, and contribute to this world. At the risk of sounding egotistical, I even included myself on that list, because I am proud of my family and my career and my spiritual life. I’ve been happily married almost 40 years with two great and thriving sons, so I figured, hey, take a look back! At the top of the sheet, I wrote down why I was including a particular person. Their successes spanned business, family and spiritual leadership, and athletics. I included successful people from all walks of life, males and females, young and old, rich and poor; but every single one of them was, at least in my view, a winner in some significant way.
Then, I started making the list of their traits, characteristics, and behaviors just as before. What is it that this person does that has contributed to their success? Education? Intelligence? Commitment? Passion? Social skills? Risk-taking? Analytical skills? Was it their strategy of problem solving or maybe their negotiating skills, philosophy, or coping skills? I put these up on a different wall in the same room. (I was driving Robin crazy!) Again, I started going through and color-coding to see whether there were similarities or whether these were a bunch of unique people who shared little or nothing with others who were also successful. Again, I was shocked! Even though these people came from different walks of life and might never have even heard of each other, the commonalities were incredible. There were differences, certainly, but more importantly, the core list of traits and characteristics, strategies, and styles shared by all of these people was overwhelmingly clear. Success doesn’t happen by accident; people don’t just get “lucky.” Success is created, and, just as importantly, once obtained, it must be managed and protected. I didn’t see a single success story in which the person at the center, the hero, the victor, didn’t come under some attack at some point. You’ve heard the saying “It’s lonely at the top,” and it’s true.
To say I was excited is a huge understatement. All of these people’s formula for success, just as with the bad guys mentioned earlier, was knowable. It was definable and observable and could be put on a finite list. And, believe me when I tell you, this was not a commonsense list. This was not a list that you would easily come up with if you sat down to speculate about what was at the core of their successes. But the good news is, even if not commonsensically obvious, success leaves footprints. You can track success and figure out what is at its core. So, I did the same thing that I did with the other list. I went to the bookstore, I scrubbed Amazon.com, and I got into the psychological, psychiatric, and sociological literature to see whether anyone had done what I was doing. I found a lot of “rah-rah” motivational-type books, tapes, and programs (some pretty good ones, actually, as far as they went), but I did not find one example of anybody talking about how to win in the real world and how to protect that success once you have it.
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