What Makes People and Businesses Succeed (Part 1)

Want to achieve something great? Want to create a successful business or build a peak performing team? Read on…

Over the past 30 years I have been studying what makes people and businesses succeed when most do not. I’ve identified some key factors I believe are responsible for peak performance and success in business, and in this series I’d like to share some of them with you.

We knew you could achieve success!

Of all the success factors, nothing is more important than the power to decide. Successful businesses don’t come about by chance. Usually they end up that way because somebody decided they would. That original, compelling vision that inspires dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people to work together towards its achievement. That is the starting point.

Decide to be great

When I was a teenager I was inspired by Barry Cable, an Australian Rules football champion. In a television documentary I watched at the time, Cable was asked how he had managed to achieve so much in his football career. His answer was candid and to the point, “When I was 15 years old I decided to become a football champion.” He went on to say that he hadn’t decided that he would “try his best” or do “as well as he could”, he decided to become a champion. That is why he went on to achieve at the highest level. In the years since, I’ve found that answer to be the same for champion teams in sports and business as much as for individuals.

Have you decided to be a champion, or are you just aiming to do “the best you can”? Have you decided to create a peak performing business, or are you just going to “see how we go”? If your answer is the latter, I wish you luck, because you’ll need plenty of it. Peak performers, by comparison, make their own luck, and usually find it in ample quantities, because the universe and the business world alike respond to definiteness of purpose and clarity of vision.

Clarify your success vision

In the Bible it says, “Without a vision, the people perish.” It’s the same for you and your business. Without a compelling vision to aim towards there is nothing to inspire action, nothing to focus towards, and nothing by which to measure ultimate success.

Clarity of vision and decision-making is power. The decision to create a peak performing business or champion team inspires people to want to do better. Conversely, people are de-motivated by unclear goals, hazy visions, and half-baked plans. Nobody is motivated by the prospect of doing “just ok”. They want to believe they are part of something great and doing something worthwhile.

Lee Iacocca, considered by many to be one of the great business leaders said it like this:

“If a person’s going to do a great job, he’s got to like coming to work. He’s got to say to himself: I’m going to help produce something great today, and he’s got to say that every day.”

The process of becoming a peak performer thus starts with your decisions and especially your vision. Only when you get in touch with an inspiring vision will things start to happen in your business and your life.

Break through the BS barrier

Translating your vision into reality will require you to break through the barrier of your limiting BS. That is, your limiting Belief Systems! Your current and future performance has more to do with your beliefs about what is possible for you and your business than it does with your actual potential.

The challenge is that many of the beliefs that hold people back are invisible to those who hold them. Like water to the fish you are too close to it, immersed in it. That’s why expert coaches and consultants like me will always be needed – we can see what you can’t see, and often very quickly and clearly. Within 60 minutes of entering a business and talking to key personnel I can usually diagnose the key limitations of their internal BS. Breaking through that limiting BS then becomes a key focus of my intervention.

Perform an identity check

The strongest BS holding most people and businesses back is their identity. Your identity is how you see yourself and define yourself, how you (and your people) see your business, and what you (and they) believe it can and can’t become.

“The strongest force in the human personality is our need to remain consistent with how we have defined ourselves.” – Robert Cialdini, Influence

When you change your identity you can create radical shifts in your performance. Left as it is you risk being forever stuck in the box of your limiting thinking. (See my previous article on changing your identity here)

Even businesses that are doing well can become stuck if they fail to see how they can do better. Just because you have something that works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved. Just because you have a good business doesn’t mean it can’t be a great business.

The phenomenon of the comfort zone is commonly seen in sport, where individuals and teams tend to perform at the level they see themselves. You need to realise that this same process is operating in your business right now, influencing (and limiting) the performance of everyone on your team.

Take time to assess what you and your people believe about your business. Then decide what you want to believe instead and set about growing into that new identity. This review and renewal process could be “just what the doctor ordered” to take your business from dis-ease to vibrant health.

In the next article in this series, we’ll look at how resistance to change is inevitable and how you can overcome that resistance and succeed.

Related Quotes:

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” – Abraham Lincoln

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” – Steve Jobs

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” – Joel A. Barker

“I want to change things. I want to see things happen. I don’t want to just talk about them.” – John R. Noe