There are many people who write about the attributes of successful people. And they may even write about the actions of successful people. But what is the particular skill that a successful person has that may explain their success?
A: The ability to balance two opposing forces.
That is the ability to handle the tension between two opposite forces in such a way that he or she gets the benefit from both (opposing) forces.
To be a successful sales person:
You must be able to genuinely, empathetically listen to and be interested in the prospect’s problems and yet be motivated and focused on getting your solution adopted and your KPIs met.
To be a successful leader:
Leaders have warmth and natural empathy that makes people feel they are understood but they are also strong and resolute and unwavering in their beliefs.
To be a successful entrepreneur:
Be truly committed to something that is completely unproven. This requires balancing the Doubt that defines the opportunity (inherent in breaking new ground) with the Faith to execute diligently and repeatedly believing it will work.
Great parents find the sweet spot between unconditional love and strong guidance.
I could go on…
But the question that intrigues most is why some people can acquire that skill and others not.?
This particular skill is not a physical one, so there are no innate requirements like hand-eye coordination or fast-twitch fibers.
Yet some people acquire and some people don’t.
In my view it boils down to a certain way of thinking. And by this I definitely DO NOT mean ‘positive thinking’. (In fact relentless positive thinking is bound to be as problematic and ineffectual as continuous negative thinking.)
The mindset I am referring to is a strong intellectual commitment to avoid binary thinking. Some people seem to be more easily able to avoid either/or thinking and others struggle a bit more. It may relate to a need to make sense of the world in convenient little boxes, but the reality is invariably different.
And I really mean invariably.
If you are a Christian/ believer, then God is the only ultimate truth (by definition). If you are a materialist there are no absolute truths. For practical purposes – at the human level in our reality here on earth, one can therefore safely say that for every argument to act one way, there will be a powerful (if not equal) argument to act the exact opposite way.
The outcome of this particular reality is that humans make choices to pursue a particular course of action and then ‘battle’ with the implementation because there unintended consequences. But in fact those unintended consequences could easily have been foreseen if one simply had the inclination to objectively consider the opposite course of action.
The knack (skill) to do so is something that can be learned. It does not take any particular set of ‘smarts’.
In the next post we will apply this skill to a big social problem and explore how that may apply in business. (And even talk about Schapelle Corby.)