I gave in to the temptation earlier this week to make an impulse purchase in the grocery store check-out line, Time magazine’s special edition on the science of success. I read the issue cover-to-cover immediately thereafter. Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the topics covered line up with books I’ve already read and covered in this blog! Some highlights:
- Stellar CEOs tend to be utility players; they have a range of above average skills rather than a single standout ability. Beyond above average intelligence, they exhibit: self-compassion to overcome setbacks and stay on track; an ability to control their attention; a stellar work ethic; and, a growth mindset.
- Highly accomplished people are paragons of perseverance. They work at their craft. They model ferocious determination.
- There’s a clear link between healthy bodies and high achievement. Exercise activates the prefrontal cortex, increases attention and focus, builds confidence, improves mood, and relieves stress.
- Successful people understand that “finishing strong” isn’t about catching up at the end of a race to make a respectable showing. It’s about consistently focusing and doing your absolute best at every moment, from start to finish.
- Each individual has a distinctive biorhythm that dictates when they’ll have their peaks and valleys of energy. Know your type (i.e., lark or night owl), identify the tasks to be completed, and determine the right order in which to pursue them given varying energy levels throughout the day.
- Failure is an essential element of success. We fail until we find the right answer or approach. If you live cautiously, you fail by default. Expect setbacks. Feel your failures and learn from them. Then move on to what’s next.
- Luck favors the prepared.
The issue closes with the principles that have guided some of or highest achievers:
- Jane Goodall, leading expert on chimpanzees, received this advice from her mother: “If you really want something and you work hard and you take advantage of opportunities – and you never, ever give up – you will find a way.”
- Steve Jobs, microcomputer pioneer: “You’ve got to put something back into the flow of history… [so that] people will say, this person didn’t just have a passion; he cared about making something that other people could benefit from.”
- Helen Keller, one of America’s most inspiration figures: “Resolve to keep happy… and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”
- Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, advises us to exercise restraint and practice humility. “You can tell a guy to go to hell tomorrow – you don’t give up the right. So just keep your mouth shut today and see if you feel the same way tomorrow.”
- Shonda Rhimes, entertainment mogul, stresses swagger. “We all have something about ourselves to brag about, something that is amazing or special or interesting… I say we need to start a bragging revolution.”
- George Washington Carver, agricultural scientist: “It’s not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank that counts. These mean nothing. It is simply service that measure success.”
- Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State: “Whenever my father saw that I had to take on something difficult or do something that I might not have confidence about, he would say, ‘Strike it.’ That was his version of ‘go for it.’ To me that meant you have to believe in yourself and go after what you want.”
- Pablo Picasso, Spanish painter: “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
- Maya Angelou, Pulitzer-prize winning poet, took her grandmother’s advice to heart: “If the world puts you on a road you do not like, if you look ahead and do not want that destination which is being offered and you look behind and you do not want to return to your place of departure, step off the road. Build yourself a new path.”