5 drivers for professional and personal success

“To be nobody but yourself in a world that is demanding that you be everything but, is to fight the greatest battle there is to fight and never stop fighting it.” — e.e. cummings

In a world that is continuously asking us all to do more, better, faster — always with fewer resources — it takes a solid combination of skills and attitudes to not only survive, but also thrive and enjoy life! Over the course of 100-plus years in developing people and organizations, the Dale Carnegie organization continues to coach professionals to incorporate these Five Success Drivers into their lives because they work:


In a world where risk, challenge, competition, and change go hand in hand, self-confidence is a must. You must constantly stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone if you ever expect to grow. As Tom Monahan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza once said, “Either you grow or you die.” This attitude is the foundation, if not the fountain of life. When we are at our confident best, it seems like nothing can stop us. When barriers get in our way, we figure out the best way to get through. Put self-doubt and second guessing in the rear-view mirror and move forward.

People skills

The late John D. Rockefeller said, “The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee, and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.” It all starts with the understanding that building solid relationships is critical. It is only when a positive relationship is in place that you can even begin to think of gaining the willing cooperation from another person. Yes, you can get temporary, compliant cooperation, but a firm relationship has to be in place to get it done the right way — whether it is one of your associates, a customer, a vendor, or even one of your kids. An old boss of mine said that, “Life is simple; it is all these people that screw it up.” Let me suggest that this attitude will probably not be the best approach in the long run.

Communication skills

Many, many people get involved with our organization to improve their ability to think on their feet and speak more effectively in public, one on one, and in front of groups large and small. What is really interesting is how many people are not the best listeners. It is this other half of the communication process that is critical to success, as well. I am not talking about surface listening, but truly listening to understand. If there is a habit that all too many of us have, it's to start formulating our gem of a response while the other person is still talking. As the late philosopher, Paul Tillich, once said, “The greatest compliment you can give someone is to listen to them when you are listening to them.”

Leadership skills

There are many definitions of leadership. Depending on situation, either of these two could be applicable:

  1. Personal leadership is doing the right thing without being told, when nobody is looking. It is positive and value driven.
  2. Team leadership is all about creating environments that influence others to achieve the goals that need to be accomplished. The focus is gaining (as I said earlier) the willing cooperation of others.

Reducing stress

The ability to face challenging situations and negative stress with a constructive attitude is often the determining factor in achieving success. Either “it” is in control and on top of you or you are in charge. On the flip side, use positive stress as a motivator to get things done. Marcus Aurelius once said, “Our life is what our thoughts make it.” Never, never get caught up in the downward spiral of negativity, and, looking back, if you have strong competence in the other four success drivers, you will always be in a much better position to deal with what life gives you.

Finally, I will end with a quote from Jack Welch: “Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act.”

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