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The Success Formula in Business and Life

success formula

The Success Formula

Why clarity, focus and hard work will determine your happiness and gratitude in life

What does success mean to you? The particular and individual definition of success is the indispensable foundation for happiness and satisfaction in life. In order to be able to be permanently successful in business and in life, I´d like to fill the abstract concept of success with life and transform it into concrete results with the appropriate deeds. The bottom line is that success results from the consistent and constant repetition of supposedly small things. And that is why this is my totally personal success formula:

Success = Clarity x Focus x Hard Work

Genuine and sustainable success is always the result of these three factors. It starts with a deep clarity about what is important to you. Next comes an unwavering focus on the necessary factors and areas. And if you then combine these two qualities with hard, motivated, and—in particular—long-term work, then success will almost inevitably set in. Therefore, let’s take a closer look at the individual components of the success formula, shall we?

Success Factor Number 1: Clarity

As children, we often played Cowboys and Indians. Each of us had his preferences about which role we wanted to play in our afternoon activities. However, at that time, we didn’t have much choice, simply because we did not have the appropriate role models. So some played the Apache Chief Winnetou, while others preferred to be Marshal Matt Dillon (the protagonist from the cool TV series Gunsmoke. Yes, I am that old.). Nowadays, there are as many superheroes as there are grains of sand in the ocean (my favourites are clearly Batman, Ironman, and Rocket Raccoon of Guardians of the Galaxy), and when I watch my kids play, it‘s not so much a question of which role they want to play, but an entirely different question: “Which superpower would you like to have?”

In the answers that follow the question, you can see their eyes start to radiate. Mind-reading, invisibility, time travel, speed, flying, or the ability to move objects with the power of the mind are just a few of the things children want these days. What would your answer be if I asked you this question? Which would be your preferred superpower? My choice would probably surprise you, because I would choose clarity. No other trait is of such crucial importance when it comes to living a fulfilled and contented life. Clarity is also essential to our individual definition of success. Only if you know what you want, what is important to you, and what makes you truly happy – and, of course, what you don’t want, what isn’t important to you, and what makes you unhappy – can you make the decisions that are necessary for you to get it.

Figure out what you want and what’s important to you and makes you happy. Then you’ll make the right decisions. Click To Tweet

The bottom line is that your own degree of clarity stands and falls by answering the questions of what really counts in life and what, exactly, you expect from it. And then there’s a special domino effect that always fascinates me. I was able to marvel at it when it happened with myself, but also as it has worked with my customers. Clarity leads to more commitment in the first step, because the increased awareness of one’s own values and what one really wants, of course, also makes itself felt in one’s own communication. You make decisions more quickly, more transparently, and you provide guidance to the people around you. This increases your charisma and, ultimately, the efficiency you achieve in the different areas of your life.

Clarity => Commitment => Impact

But clarity offers yet another also very decisive side effect. Some folks like to call it having Skin in the Game, which is another way of saying commitment. If something is really important to you, then you do everything to make it happen. You invest time, energy, and money. You go the extra mile and stick with it even if you encounter hindrances or if your initial motivation wears off a bit. No matter what you plan to do, always make sure that you have Skin in the Game and that it really matters to you.

Success Factor Number 2: Focus

Now that you’ve worked on your clarity as part one of the success formula, it’s all about harnessing your strength and adjusting your focus, so that you can focus on what really pushes you forward and not get distracted or bogged down with the unimportant stuff. I recommend the “heaven and hell” metaphor for this. What’s behind all this? Very simple: the exclusive focus on two areas. On one side is heaven, by which I mean everything that is related to your dreams, your vision, and your strategy. You could also call it working on your company or your life. To create a mnemonic device for yourself, you might also try thinking of castles in the air that are so huge that there is only space high above them. Well, and then, of course, there’s hell. By that, I mean the hard work, the doing, and the concrete implementation of the strategy you have developed in heaven. Please don’t be confused by the negative meaning of the word hell, but I chose the term because it is the complete opposite of heaven. To be honest, focusing on the two-letter word that’s been quoted so much, can sometimes feel a bit like hell, right? That’s the notorious price we must be willing to pay. (I personally like to imagine the voice of AC/DC singer Bon Scott, who loudly shouts “I’m on a Highway to Hell,” and it automatically puts me in a positive mood again.)

The metaphor of heaven and hell can be a wonderful guide for your focus. Whatever your specific goals and objectives, always ask yourself: am I moving in heaven or in hell? In other words, from now on, use your three most important resources – time, energy, and money – only for tasks that are directly related to those two areas, either with your vision, your strategy, or the development of great ideas, or with the concrete implementation of these things. You should either delegate or leave everything found in between. You may be quite wonderfully busy with the tasks that are between heaven and hell, but the bottom line is that it’s just a distraction that isn’t productive and doesn’t bring you closer to your goals. So adjust your focus. Your success will thank you.

Success Factor Number 3: Hard Work

Before we dive into part three of the success formula, I’d like to share with you three of my deepest convictions: “No pain, no gain,” “Fortune favours the bold,” and “Hard work always beats talent.” Because I believe in nothing so much as in good, old- fashioned hard work. “But Ilja, that’s really outdated, because in times of digital change, it’s much more important to work smart, right?” I hear this objection regularly, and yet I stick with my statement because everyone works smart today. I do, too, by the way. It’s simply the absolute basic prerequisite, and by no means a differentiating feature. And because that is the case, hard work pays off.

Work smart and hard. This rare combination automatically gives you a unique selling proposition. Click To Tweet

So here we are at the third factor of the success formula, namely hard work. If you know what’s important to you and focus your entire attention on these things, then it depends on how intensively—and especially in the long term—you work to make it happen. And not just once, but again and again. Even on days when you don’t feel like it. When you’re struggling with setbacks. When you would like to throw everything away. In all these situations, hard work helps you stay on top of it. One of my great idols, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself—the Terminator—put it perfectly in his famous “Six Rules of Success” speech with two legendary sentences:

“You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pocket” and “While you are taking a nap, somebody else is working his butt off.”

There’s nothing more to add. No success without hard work. It’s that easy.

Use the three factors of the success formula daily

These were the three factors of the success formula: Clarity. Focus. And hard work. Let these qualities become an integral part of your attitude toward life, and success will inevitably occur in all areas of your life. Naturally, this doesn’t mean that it will now be easier, or that it will happen all by itself. On the contrary, you will continue to make mistakes, battle setbacks, and face defeats. But you will grow and get better at these challenges. And that is, perhaps, the greatest achievement of all. However, the more you dare, the more the whiners, know-it-alls, and grouches will crawl out of their holes. For your own personal contentment, it will be crucial that you dare to do a lot more of your own thing.

Let me know what you think and drop me a comment below.

All the best,

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