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The Single Most Essential Building Block of Success

By David S. Chang

Andreas von der Heydt

There is this one question. This one ultimate question. One question we all ask ourselves. Some of us on a more frequent basis. Others only from time to time. Some of us acknowledge doing so. Others pretend they do not care. Still, we all ask it:

Which is THE fundamental building block of success? 

What is it that makes an organization or a person succeed whilst others fail? What do we need to carry with and in us that enables us to win the race, to achieve something in the best possible way, to go on when others have already given up, to see the big picture and not to sweat the small stuff, to be inspirational and not to become sarcastic and destructive, to grow and to enjoy and not to regret and to complain?

A myriad of excellent books and articles have been written on this exciting topic. Three of them I´d like to shortly highlight:

What we can learn from “visionary“ Companies

In Built to Last Collins and Porras – based upon a six-year research project – identified the following six timeless fundamentals of the so-called visionary, and as such successful companies: Make the company itself the ultimate product, Build the company around a core ideology, Build a cult-like culture, Homegrow your management, Stimulate growth through big goals (BHAGs), Embrace the “genius of the and.“

What we can learn from “Top“ Leaders

Lessons from the Top, written by T. Neff and J. Citrin, describes what makes a great business leader. What qualities do the men and women at the top of the world’s best-run companies have in common? The result is a broad and consistent palette of personalities and philosophies that the authors synthesize into 10 common traits (passion, intelligence, communication skill, high energy, controlled ego, inner peace, a defining background, strong family life, positive attitude, and a focus on “doing the right things right”) and six core principles (live with integrity, develop a winning strategy, build a great management team, inspire employees, create a flexible organization, and implement relevant systems).

What we can learn from our “Mindset“

In Mindset, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success, but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate others, as well as reach our own professional and personal goals.

The good news, says Dweck, is that mindsets are not set: at any time, you can learn to use a growth mindset to achieve success and happiness. Her overall assertion that rigid thinking benefits no one, least of all yourself, and that a change of mind is always possible, is welcome.

Resilience – The fundamental Building Block of Success

According to my experience the primary difference between winners and losers is how they handle set backs and and how they cope with losing. Without a doubt, even the strongest, most clever, and most competent ones among us stumble from time to time and do not succeed. Some of these challenges might be relatively minor. Others might be much larger in scale.

The real skill, and as such the main building block of success, is getting back on track again after difficult experiences and loses, and not giving up. Instead bouncing back into the original, or even into a stronger position than before.

In psychology this characteristic is called resilience: An individual’s tendency to cope with stress and adversity. This coping may result in the individual “bouncing back” to a previous state of normal functioning, or simply not showing negative effects.”

Resilience, however, is not a silver bullet which automatically eliminates all problems of someone. It gives people the strength to directly face problems, to overcome adversity and to move on with their lives. (e.g. after a personal loss, sickness, nature catastrophe, etc.). People are able to marshal the strength to not just survive, but to prosper.

Ten Ways to become more resilient

There are people who naturally possess certain personality traits that assist them coping with setbacks and bringing them quickly back on a good track. Today we know that many of these skills can be learned and trained by anyone. As such they will help you to tackle past or upcoming problems head-on and to become more successful.

1. Understand that Setbacks are Part of Life
Life is not always cozy and fun. It is also characterized by complexity and challenges. They belong to life like the night is part of the day. Without night there would be no day. Without pain there would be no joy. While we often cannot avoid all the problems, we can choose to stay flexible, open-minded, and determined to succeed.

2. Be aware of Yourself and the Environment
Resilient people are aware of themselves, the environment, and their own emotional reactions to those around them. They have understood the importance of evaluating the reasons of their feelings by constantly observing themselves. This enables them to take control of the situation and to develop various options of behaving and acting.

3. Believe and know that You are in Control
If you are a resilient person, then you have a so-called Internal Locus of Control. You believe that you can control your life, you do not believe that you are defined by external factors which you can´t control. Instead, you feel that you have the power to make choices and take actions that will affect your success rate.

4. Become a Solution Thinker
When a difficult situation arises, resilient people would always think of solutions. They would act calmly, would review holistically the task at hand, and would be able to spot possible solutions. If not, they would envision them. Next time you encounter a new challenge, make a quick list of some of the potential ways you could solve it. Experiment with different strategies and focus on developing a logical way to work through it.

5. Believe in Yourself
You are unique. You are beautiful. You have proven already so often in life that you are an achiever. Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments. Believe in yourself and become more confident about your own abilities and strengths.

6. Set Goals and define manageable Milestones
Difficult situations can be extremely daunting. Resilient people are able to view these situations in a realistic way, and then set reasonable goals to deal with the problem. When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by a situation, take a step back to simply assess what is before you. Brainstorm possible solutions, and then break them down into manageable steps. Be willing to adapt, if necessary. Remain flexible and embrace change.

7. Stay optimistic
Keeping a hopeful attitude during turbulent times is another key part of resilience. This does not mean ignoring problems at hand in order to focus on positive outcomes. It means understanding that setbacks are transient and that you have the skills and abilities to combat the challenges you face. What you are dealing with may be difficult, but it is important to remain hopeful and positive about a brighter future. View yourself as winner, not as a loser.

8. Be brave and ask for Help
Resilient people are mature enough to admit that they can´t know everything. They are also strong enough to admit, if they feel that their energy level is going down and that they need to re-charge their batteries by receiving outside know-how, advice, support, etc. from any potential source of assistance. In this respect it helps if you have a good social network. If you can exchange with family, friends, or colleagues in order to gain new perspectives and/ or motivation.

9. Take it easy
Even the best among us will not be able to achieve everything. Even if they are properly prepared, have done their homework, can rely on an excellent support network, are super optimistic, and absolutely committed. There are still factors outside of our control. And, most importantly, often things just need time to evolve and to develop. Resilient people understand that sometimes the best recipe of success is to step back and to wait. They know that patience often pays off. They do not get stressed out in such situations. Rather they relax, re-focus on themselves and getting ready for possible next steps.

10. Nurture Yourself
When you’re stressed, it can be all too easy to neglect your own needs. Losing your appetite, ignoring exercise, and not getting enough sleep are all common reactions to a crisis situation. Focus on building your self-nurture skills, even when you are troubled. Make time for activities that you enjoy. By taking care of your own needs, you can boost your overall health and resilience and be fully ready to face life’s challenges.

What do you think? What is your opinion about resilience? What is your recipe of success? What do you think is the ultimate characteristic of successful people?

David S. Chang

Award-Winning Entrepreneur, Wealth Manager and CEO | Chief Editor, Author, Keynote Speaker, Consultant ArtofThinkingSmart.com | Political Consultant | Army Officer National Guard | Living To Fulfill Needs, Solve Problems, and Live Passionately!

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