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Success is a Skill, not just an Outcome!

Dilbert explaining how to plan for success, success as a skill!

Success is a skill or is it only an outcome?

“The harder I work the luckier I become”, is an adage attributed, albeit incorrectly, to Thomas Jefferson. The earliest findings of this idea around luck and success date to 1922, and the work of Coleman Cox.

This doesn’t answer the question of whether success is a skill or an outcome. So the thesis, success is a skill, requires further explanation.

Defining success as a starting point

Success is an individually defined “thing” that merits exploration. For some, it is a feeling or a state of mind and for others it motivates. Perhaps the fundamental question to answer first is how we define success for ourselves. Is success something you achieve when you have attained a degree of:

  • Wealth
  • Power
  • Making a difference in the world
  • Leading a high performing team
  • Possessions (material things)
  • Being recognized as an industry leader

For me personally, success is measured by moments where I make a positive difference. In my view, success is a skill because it is an aptitude developed with practice (like any skill). It is the ability (or proficiency) of being successful. 

For example, communication requires various input skills like effective listening, cognitive awareness, managing our own state of mind, wise choices in phraseology, tone, and more. The outcome is better relationships. We could also easily say that networking or relationship building is a skill, just as it is an outcome. Success too requires input skills like grit, motivation, creative thinking, problem-solving, and much more. 

Success, as a skill, then becomes the consistent ability to achieve the desired outcome through a well-oiled technique (process). 

None of this means that the road to success is a simple one, often far from it! It is one that includes bumps, turns, and dead ends as captured so well in this cartoon.

Jon Youshaei cartoon depicting the road to success.

Understanding the road ahead

The reality is that mastering success requires resilience, perseverance, and a passion for the outcome we desire. When I started writing The Power of Potential, I had one thing in mind – I must share this model and the insight it provides because it will change lives. The model levels the playing field by removing socio-economic accessibility barriers to career opportunities. I remember thinking: I wish I had known about this when I was in my early 20s…it would have helped me be successful sooner, and more easily so!

The drive was, and still is, about helping other people reach their true potential. The fact that the book has just made the Best Sellers List (Amazon) is a wonderful and humbling outcome but is not how I originally defined its success. I still define it as individuals adapting and using the model in their lives, and consistently getting the outcomes they want with more ease. In other words, the idea is to pave the way to success by showing readers a better and shorter route to their destination.

At its core, success in life follows a five-ingredient recipe.

Five steps of success as a skill

  1. Set out a clear outcome that you truly desire (the Disney Strategy is brilliant for this step)
  2. Identify the unique differences that will ensure you achieve your dream (I call this the inside-out technique in my book)
  3. Establish a plan using the PECSAW approach (more powerful than traditional goal setting approaches)
  4. Develop cheerleaders to support you (using trusted individuals around you)
  5. Consider how you will measure your success (how will you know you achieve something?)

Final Thoughts

These five steps provide us a clear roadmap. The skill is in driving the car after selecting the best route option for the desired destination. Choosing our own path is an adventure, one where nothing but the destination is set.

Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

Sir Winston Churchill

Now comes the fun, go and execute on your well-thought-out plan! You can achieve anything you set your mind and heart to. 

Your turn

Sign in to the Community Member Area or comment below to share your views on how you define success in your world. What is your advice for others?

Give it a try!

Credit for Dilbert Cartoon: Scott Adams

Credit for Road to Success Cartoon: Jon Youshaei

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