"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." —Thomas Edison
I've always attributed Edison's quote to winning in business, replacing genius with success. However, I have recently developed a slightly different formula. My equation is made up of three separate parts:
- What You Know
- Who You Know
The Secret Formula
The percentages for each part of my success formula are different for everyone. Let's take a look at each element involved, and you decide what percentage applies to each.
1. What You Know. This represents all of the content in your brain. It's what you learned in school, your street smarts and every job you had either while in school or after college. It's also all of the advice you received from your parents and mentors. What you know is your resume; your body of work. How important is "what you know" in determining your success? Playing devil's advocate, does the best person always win the job or get the assignment? The answer, of course, is no. If you want to be successful in business, you cannot and should not put all your eggs in one basket. It will take more than "what you know" to achieve your goals and dreams. That said, this is still the most important element in the mix.
2. Who You Know. We've all heard the over-used cliche, "It's not what you know, but rather who you know." Who can't recount a time or two when someone "as dumb as rocks" was hired or promoted based solely on his or her connections? Does this mean that we should focus all our efforts on "getting in" with the in crowd? No. It simply means that connections in the right places are a solid advantage and you should proactively cultivate professional relationships that are, or one day can be, mutually beneficial.
3. Timing/Luck. Sometimes it pays to be in the right place at the right time, but don't think for a second that you can pay the mortgage every month by being lucky. At some point, luck does run out and streaks end. I believe that hard work plus having good connections greatly increases your chances for success in business. I liken it to getting more numbers in a lottery drawing. If there are 50 to 55 numbered pingpong balls in a machine, your hard work and success may get you 20 numbers, whereas someone else may have only one to two numbers. You're not guaranteed to win, but I like your odds.
My Personal Formula
When it comes to long-term success in business, I'm a 70-20-10 guy. I think What I Know (70 percent) is largely responsible for any success I've achieved so far, and I work on improving my knowledge every single day. The second part (20 percent) is Who I Know. I deeply value my professional relationships and strongly believe in them being mutually beneficial. By helping others achieve their goals and objectives, I will achieve my own. The last 10 percent represents Timing/Luck. There aren't many sure things in life and business. Sometimes a long shot pays off, and sometimes someone else wins the job or assignment that was meant for you.
Every time I lose, I dissect what happened to determine what I may have done differently. I then pick myself up, dust myself off and get ready for the next opportunity to come my way. That's my formula for success in business. What's yours?
Share your formula for success in the comments below.
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