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The pursuit of the recipe of success

nsaqib profile image Najmus Saqib Updated on ・4 min read

Human beings are obsessed with success. We want to be super successful in all our endeavors. No one wants to end up as mediocre in any aspect of his or her life. What's the plan-A most of us have to achieve success? Imitate the people who have achieved our desired level of success. Find and adopt the secret ingredients of their success.

As per a research by McKinsey about the organizational redesign, many companies, these days, are in a nearly permanent state of organizational flux.

This applies to individuals equally. Everybody is in an endless pursuit of recipe of success and applying it to his own life.

The bulk of the content on the topic of self-improvement, productivity, leadership and management revolves around the methods giants adopted to achieve success. Their personal habits, daily routines, communication mechanisms, organizational structures and planning methodologies. Humans in general try to copy them and start anticipating the same level of success.

While this strategy is correct in general but it has got it's fair share of pitfalls. The bitter truth is that we can never finalize the factors that made a human being successful. Even the successful person himself is not always aware of the reasons of his success. Here's a quote from What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith on this

One of the greatest mistakes of successful people is the assumption, “I am successful. I behave this way. Therefore, I must be successful because I behave this way!” The challenge is to make them see that sometimes they are successful in spite of this behavior.

Let's explore few reasons why people fail to achieve the levels of success they are striving for.

Shortcut selection

The tendency to find shortcuts is the biggest blocker in the path of success. The bias impacts writers as well because as human beings, we like to be told about shortcuts. So in many cases hard parts are either skipped by writer or by the reader but we can't cheat nature. In the words of Thomas Paine,

That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price on its goods.

A few examples to understand the phenomenon

Here are a couple of quotes from How to Win Friends and Influence People

You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.

To be interesting, be interested.

The message is loud and clear, become genuinely interested in other people to maintain a good relationship with them. That's not easy to adopt so there's lots of literature available that promises the same with shortcuts. They list engaging topics to discuss during small talk or how to start official meetings by asking questions about other people's weekends. All of this is not going to help you if you are not taking a genuine interest in other people's life.

There's lots of literature on being productive and effective. Most people pick only the rituals ( Time quadrants, Pomodoro technique, etc) from it. This usually make people busy but not productive or effective. Without mindfulness about your time, no time management technique is going to make you productive. Without having a vision in your life you are not going to be effective.

Principles and practices

One of the immensely valuable aspects of any correct principle is that it is valid and applicable in a wide variety of circumstances - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Picking up the principles behind an idea is very important but people usually focus on the visual parts of it i.e. it's practices. This is most evident while adopting management methodologies like agile or OKRs. Most of the discussions for adopting agile are surrounded by it's ceremonies and people seldom talk about the principle behind i.e Agile Manifesto.

Embracing principles and changing mindset takes time, specially when you are doing it on organizational level. Communication gets distorted whatever medium is used. You'll have to repeat the message again and again to make sure that every one in the organization is in sync.

Context conflict

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Once you get to know about some technique of success you apply it on yourself without verifying if you have the same problems, scale or competency.

Final words

Things mentioned above are very important to reiterate frequently. Though these may seem common knowledge yet we as human beings very often become victims of these traps. With a constant check on ourselves, we can achieve great success by following the paths of people who have already achieved it.

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