A neat guy emailed me last week and said:
I’m working as a consultant for the first time and admire how successful you are. You seem to have a solid, grounded, self-worth that lets you speak with authority. Yet, at the same time you seem to not take yourself too seriously.
What have been the two key things that have helped you become successful? (I’m not speaking monetarily here.)
Thanks in advance. I really appreciate your time.
Thanks for your kind words, B. It’s interesting – someone yesterday asked me what my tipping point was … they’re sort of the same question, I guess.
Before I answer, one caveat: please note I’m a serious work-in-progress. I have big, stinky flaws, but at least I try to own them and never make excuses, and I say I’m sorry when I hurt someone.
Now, to answer your question, I actually can name four things, I suppose.
1) I know I can help. About 15 years in (maybe it’s Gladwell’s whole 10,000 hours thing), I reached a point where had I interviewed, diagnosed, and worked for enough companies that I had compiled a large enough mental library of research that I was rarely surprised anymore. I won’t say I’ve heard it all, but I’ve heard most of it over and over again. People aren’t making new mistakes, so I have the confidence to prescribe a course of action to someone quickly and resolutely. I’m also more infinitely more aware of patterns and connections in stuff I read, see, and hear.
2) I never stop reading. I never stop learning. I really enjoy it. I’m perpetually and (some would say) exhaustingly curious.
3) I was raised on a farm in the midwest. Therefore, I was raised to not take myself (or anyone else) too seriously. Farmers are great storytellers, but they also have highly sensitive BS-meters. Both of those things are important. Also, our parents taught us three kids manners and humility at a very early age. I’m sensitive to both in myself and others.
4) As we’ve grown, I’ve surrounded myself with talented people who have different strengths than me BUT they have the same values as me. I think that’s been critical.
I hope that helps.
Have a great week, B.
PS – I’ll add one more: Our son has taught us to separate the truly important from the merely urgent.