Every January, some of the most powerful and influential leaders in the world descend upon the Alpine resort town of Davos, Switzerland, not to ski the steep, powdery slopes, but to discuss the most urgent, challenging and important issues facing the world today.
In 2016, this World Economic Forum, as it’s called, managed to do something which I think is remarkable—they gave a formal name to the monumental scientific, technological and work-life upheaval that we’re all experiencing now, and which has only begun to disrupt our lives.
They call it The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
And the conclusions they’ve reached remind me of Joe Pantoliano’s character “Cypher” in the movie, The Matrix, when he says:
“Keep working no matter what happens. If things are good, keep working. If things are bad, keep working.” —Moby
Whether you choose to define success in broad terms (i.e. “success in life”) or in more specific contextual terms (e.g. success in completing a project or achieving a goal) it is helpful to understand what behaviors or course of action can improve your chances of reaching the level of success you desire.
Endless volumes have been written about this ever-pressing question—How can I achieve success? But few manage to be as straightforward, accessible and concise as Heidi Halvorson’s, 9 Things Successful People Do Differently.
In only 112 short pages, Halvorson, a motivational psychologist, manages to lay out 9 actionable ideas gleaned from the scientific literature of success. After having scoured decades of research, she gives us the strategies that successful people use to catapult their performance far above the average. “In the end,” she states, “not only will you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along, but you’ll be able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you. More importantly, you’ll be able to use that knowledge to your advantage from now on.”
This book is a fantastic little manual, which I encourage you to read.
Personally, I’ve taken Halvorson’s framework and arranged it into 3 essential prescriptions: (1) “Be a Realistic Optmist” (2) Get Super-Specific and (3) Focus on Continuous Improvement
Here’s a brief description of each:
I read a lot of books each year and I usually learn something from all of them, but only a select few make it into what I call my Success Library—books so powerful that they deeply inform my ideas about how to be successful in work and in life. The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling is one such book.
Do you have a personal or professional goal (or two) that you would desperately like to achieve? Something that you’re done talking about; done dreaming about; done making excuses about; something that you’re committed to turning into reality as quickly as possible?
Maybe you want to take that trip to Europe, lose 20 lbs, make the President’s Club, start a business or write that book?!
Or maybe you’re the manager or leader of a team that’s underperforming and it’s your job to help them get back on track?
If so, this book has many of the answers you’re looking for.
Of course, if you want to really master the 4 disciplines, you’ll have to buy the book, read it and practice it. It’s full of real world examples of how organizations have applied this methodology and achieved great results.
Today, I just want to briefly review what each of these disciplines entails, along with some key takeaways…
Not too long ago, the people who had all the answers had all the power, but in a connected world awash in petabytes of data, answers are becoming commodities, and the people who know how to ask more beautiful questions will carry the day.
Warren Berger’s 2014 book, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas, is a good place to start if you want to understand why questioning has become so critical in today’s economy. This book is a primer on how to get started crafting questions that can help you get ahead in your career, and in life.
After all, as Case Western professor of Social Entrepreneurship, David Cooperrider states in the book: