As someone who has been coaching people for 26 years, I am often asked what the key to success is—and, surprisingly, whether luck plays a role.
I’ll take that last part first. For the record, I prefer to pretend that the concept of luck doesn’t really exist—because if it didn’t, any magical thing that happened to help us along the way would just be a bonus.
Now for the main question. In my experience, there is no one thing that makes someone successful. I believe real success involves a combination of eight critical components—and that a person needs all eight of these qualities to truly succeed. I’ve found that someone who has most but not all of them will almost always fall short of achieving what they think they are truly capable of. The good news is the majority of these things can be acquired or learned—and a coach can help a client uncover which elements are missing and which to focus on first.
To start, a client must have three prerequisite qualities:
- Reasonable Intelligence. You don’t have to be that smart, just smart enough.
- Talent. No matter your desired area for success, you do need to have some natural ability in that area.
- Passion. You really have to want it.
Then here are the five elements where a coach can step in and help:
- Goal Orientation. “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” This quote is attributed to both George Harrison and Mark Twain, but it is essentially a paraphrase of what Cheshire Cat said to Alice in Wonderland, who did not know where to go. To be goal oriented, you need to have a sense of where you want to go. A coach can help with designing and articulating the vision and can teach fundamental goal setting skills. Excellent models are out there, and a little practice and attention go a long way.
- Discipline. An unwavering work ethic may come naturally or it may be achieved with a great deal of accountability. Either way, it is non-negotiable.
- Patience. Nothing moves as quickly as we want it to. Staying the course through elongated timelines can be easier with support.
- Persistence. Disappointment is extraordinarily difficult and requires resilience. A coach can offer a variety of mental tools to help get you back on your feet after you fall down.
- The ability to build and nurture a network of relationships. This is natural for some, but can be slap dash and a learned behavior for others. A little analysis, focus, and planning can really make the difference.
How are you doing in each of these areas? Which are your strengths? Which are your personal weak spots? With focus, assistance from others, and a disciplined, patient, persistent approach, a coach can help a client attack each component and stay with the job as long as it takes.
And a little pinch of luck never hurts!
About the Author
Madeleine Blanchard is the co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.