The seven things that can predict your success in business (and life)
Reading time: 4 minutes 46 seconds
In 1948, the Framingham Heart Study began to look at factors that influence our health. One of the papers that came out of it, explored the spread of obesity over the span of 32 years. Published in 2007, it found that if a friend of yours is overweight, you are more likely to be overweight. By itself, this is not shocking. What is shocking is that it also found that if a friend of a friend of yours is overweight, you are more likely to be overweight.
Think about this for a moment. Incredible. The idea that your health habits are influenced by the health habits of those you have never met doesn’t seem to make sense.
That is, until we dig deeper.
It is explained by what we know as ‘social contagion’. The theory goes like this. The social norms that we build with others influence the way we behave on a consistent basis. So, if you are spending time with other people that are overweight, you are more likely to put on weight because that’s normal, expected, and you’re probably socializing with them in places where you’ll be eating. You then, in turn, will be influencing your own friends in the very same way.
Nowadays, the communities that you surround yourself with, however, are not only in the real world. You will find yourself bonding with communities online that also have a significant influence over you. If you are to take charge of your life and have the kind of success you want, it is critical that you learn to handle this.
The seven questions to answer
Of course, this is not the only factor that is important to work on. Indeed, there are seven things that I believe can predict the degree of success you will achieve in business as well as life. Some of these are vastly underrated and some of them are emphasized too much. For each area, I’ll also provide some questions that can help you optimize it.
1.What you want
Deciding what you want is the first thing that matters. If the goals you have are impossible, that won’t work. If they are too easy, that won’t either. The optimal motivation comes from goals that are challenging and potentially out of reach… but maybe not.
- What do you want?
- How tough will this be?
- How long will this take?
- Is it worth it?
2. What you know
This is the knowledge you cultivate. You do this by deciding what area you want to focus on and then studying and learning the information you need. You then will apply that learning to turn knowledge into wisdom and experience.
- What information do you need to know to achieve what you want?
- Where can you find this information?
- How can you internalize this information?
- How can you use this information?
3. What you can do
These are your skills. The way to work on this is to spend enough time practicing them. First, you have to identify the skills worth learning. Next, you have to do the time mastering the craft.
- What skills do you need to have to achieve what you want?
- Where can you learn these skills?
- How can you master these skills?
- How will you know when you are good enough to take action?
4. What you actually do
This refers to the actions you actually take. There is no point in knowing everything if you are not going to execute on it. This requires discipline and building routines. Most important of all, it is about being trustworthy to yourself. When you tell yourself you are going to take action, you actually do.
- What are you going to do to succeed?
- When are you going to do it?
- How are you going to do it?
- How will you keep yourself accountable?
5. Who you know
Connections. Connections. Connections. Success in the business world, in particular, is largely influenced by who you know and those people in your network. It is the reason almost a billion people are on LinkedIn not to mention the billions across social media channels.
- Who do you have in your network that can help you?
- Who do you need in your network to help you?
- How can you build the right connections with the right people?
- What value can you add to them?
- When will you reach out?
6. Who knows you
Tied into who you know, this refers to your branding and reputation in the marketplace. You could argue that this is even more important. The more people that know you, the more money you are likely to make. Popularity leads to profitability.
- Who knows you currently?
- What type of people need to know you?
- How many people need to know you?
- Who specifically needs to know you?
- How can you get on their radar?
- How can you grab and keep their attention?
- How can you get them to want to do business with you?
7. Who you spend time with
Of all of these elements, this is the most underrated and yet crucial factor that will predict your success. Who do you spend time with?
There is that old quote attributed to Jim Rohn that ‘You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with’. It goes much deeper than this. Ultimately, the people that we spend time around (offline or online) play a big part in influencing our mindset, attitudes, emotions, thoughts, and therefore behaviors.
Indeed, the social contagion at play means that it’s not just who we spend time with but who they spend time with that matters. This is why it is important to be part of communities and groups of people that are behaving in the way you want to behave.
- Who do you spend your time with online?
- Who do you spend your time with offline?
- Who do you communicate with most days?
- What mindset and attitudes do these people have?
- What kind of behaviors do they typically engage in?
- What are the norms of these people?
- What are their finances/health/relationships/
happiness levels like?
Questions such as these can help you to take control over the community that you surround yourself with and play a large part in deliberately influencing yourself in a more effective way.
Mastering social curation
We believe so much of success comes down to our ability to influence others and leverage information to take effective action in the world. While this certainly matters, the ability to influence yourself is equally important.
Since civilization began, beginning with small groups, we have been influenced by those around us. Nowadays, the world wide web has expanded the amount of people we are impacted by.
How well we curate that impact matters now more than ever before.
P.S. In the latest Changing Minds podcast episode, I interview the wonderful Frank Kitchen CSP, a leading authority on culture and mindset. You can listen to the full interview here.