Everyone wants success, however it is defined. For some, it can mean financial riches. For others, success can mean reaching the top of their field. Some simply define success as living a fulfilled and contented life.
The question is: how do you attain success? .
The book “There’s Always Room at the Top: 8 Secrets of the Super Successful” by Alan S. Becker explores the secrets to success of some of the most well known people. The book teaches that personal, professional and financial fulfillment is achieved through recognizing life-altering opportunities and taking the risks associated with them.
The book succeeds in packaging together various “real world” insights that lead to a happy and successful life. The real-life illustrations of the concepts and ideas are what make this book a worthwhile read. Becker shares his own experiences as well as interviews some of the most successful people in America today from politics to business, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Jorge de Cepedes who is considered one of the 10 wealthiest Hispanics in America, author Brad Meltzer and CEOs of some of the country’s largest corporations. For entrepreneurs, the insights of these successful business people showing how they make decisions, how they overcome adversity, how they set goals and other ingredients of success can be a source of inspiration and strength.
The book aims to provide the tools and practical guidelines that can help open the doors to make it easier to achieve success. At the end of each chapters, there is a section called Reflections and Application, which is a list of activities that can help you internalize the points put forward in the chapter. It’s a good exercise for those wishing to understand the fundamentals of success.
Becker breaks down the secrets to success as follows:
1. The two simple but necessary steps to success are: Set a goal and Do it.
Every achievement starts with a goal. You have to know why you are doing the things you are doing and what you want to achieve. Otherwise, you can spend so much energy doing things that you don’t really understand what are these for. Or you waste time thinking about what you do not have or what you cannot have. Start every action with a clear purpose and always know the end game.
As Florida Governor Jeb Bush said in the book, “It’s important to create your own agenda whether it’s public realm or private realm and pursue it, and so you have to have a goal and you have to measure how you are doing on that goal.”
Set a specific goal. And then do it. Dreaming without any action is a waste of time, and the surest way to get disappointed and frustrated with life.
2. Know Your Limitations. Or rather, you have no limitations except the ones you put on yourself.
The belief that you can do what you set out to do will determine success. Take for example Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers. In his autobiography, he wrote that knowledgeable people told him that his idea of selling computers direct to consumers could never work. He did not listen to the naysayer and persisted. He pursued his dream with his belief that his idea will work. Today, Dell is one of the biggest computer companies in the world.
Fear of the unknown and fear of failure can prevent you from reaching for the brass rings. The author advises to put aside the fears. He writes, “Bravery is not the absence of fear. It is doing what we have to do in spite of the fear.”
3. Go With Your Gut.
Everyday you are faced with choices. In making a decision, there are a lot of factors in place; and sometimes you resort to logical and analytical processes while others you know to be instinctively correct. According to Becker, the instinctive decisions, or those coming from your gut feel, are the best.
The CEOs interviewed for the book concurs. On acquiring new businesses, billionaire Wayne Huizenga believes that, “The instinct comes first and the analysis comes later. So do Clarence Otis, CEO of Darden Restaurants who categorizes his decision making as, “I would say there is a great deal of instinctive, and then you do the analysis just to see if that instinct is the right instinct or not.”
4. Never Quit.
The most common characteristic of successful people is their steadfastness and determination to keep on going. They do not give up; they don’t quit even if the going gets tough.
They are persistent. As Ross Perot once said to the question why he succeeded whereas thousands of businesses failed, “I have found that successful people just don’t know when they have failed.”
According to Becker, persistence is “holding on to the same goal, pursuing it vigorously, maintaining focus and self confidence, while rejecting detours and distractions.” If you don’t succeed the first time, experiment with other approaches until you finally succeed. Have a game plan and stick to it.
The founder of Carnival Cruise Line, Ted Arison, twice went bankrupt before becoming a billionaire. Brad Meltzer, author of best selling books The Tenth Justice, Dead Even, The First Counsel, The Millionaires, The Zero Game was rejected 24 times by book publishers before he got published.
5. Keep Your Eye on the Doughnut.
Focus is critical to the attainment of success. The author defines focus as “the determined effort to stay on task, the discipline to keep your energies directed at the goal and not to be deterred by the competing demands for your attention.” As every baseball player knows, never take your eye off the ball – which means you need to put total concentration to the task at hand.
CEO of Gulf Power Co. Susan Story advices on the importance of staying on task and maintaining focus, “No results, plus excuses, do not equal results.”
6. There is Always Room at the Top.
Becker writes, “Those who set their sights at the top are usually the ones who reach the top.” It takes as much energy and effort to enter a field and perform at an acceptable level, and reaching the top of the game. “Success starts with realizing you want to be there, that you deserve to be there, and that the option of being there is open to you.”
The difference is that those who rise to the top have set their goals high, have the belief in their ability to achieve them and have put the focus and concentration needed to reach the top. As Pulitzer Prize winning author Edward Bok once said in an interview, “He looked at the top, and instead of finding it overcrowded, he was surprised at the few who had reached there; the top fairly begged for more to climb its heights.”
7. Power Abhors a Vacuum.
Successful people know how to seize opportunities. When an opportunity presents itself, they grab it, not standing around waiting for the call.
Susan Story, CEO of Gulf Power Co., relates, “I went into a lot of jobs that would have job descriptions, but never really took that as “this is what I need to do.” Success to me was what is out there that is not being done that I can do … and I started being noticed for it.”
The one thing you have to face in stepping us is risk. But risk taking is at the core of every successful in business. As Jorge de Cepedes says, “Most people live their lives, in my opinion, not so much seeking success, but staying away from risk.”
8. The Paths of Life.
Becker believes that everyone has “a pre-determined path which we are destined to follow.” With the free will given to men, you can veer from your intended path.
As Nina Tassler, President of CBS Entertainment says, “I wouldn’t be surprised if fate played some hand in my being at this company today. In my ways, I think that people in my professional life … valued my input and my participation, so I think that I was lucky in that my path crossed theirs.”
“There’s Always Room at the Top: 8 Secrets of the Super Successful”
By Alan S. Becker
BookSurge Publishing (March 29, 2006)