What Does it Take to Be Successful?

I talk a lot about possibilities in my bi-monthly blog. “What if’s,” “maybe’s” and “hopefully someday’s”… I like to live in the land of possibility and opportunity.

I like to think outside the box and consider what’s not happening and wonder if it could, if I want it to, or if it even matters…

'Sometimes it's good to think outside the box and ponder the 'what if's' of possibility' Click To Tweet

This past month I was fortunate enough to witness and participate in a dream come true for an entire educational institution. A 100th anniversary celebration that was years in the planning. It was executed with precision, with grandeur and with a passion and success that can only come from true teamwork.

This led me to consider: what does it take to be successful?

And how can the success of an event of that magnitude (attendance of 20,000 people) be applied to my own small business of one?

Here are the Five Secrets to Success I learned from working on this event:

  1. Have a Vision

It has been said that: “A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.” ~ Ralph Nader

No great leaders achieved success without first having a vision – an idea, a dream of what they would like to see come true.

All great successes start with an idea. And this project, celebrating the #SAIT100 Centennial, started with a vision for a celebration. They didn’t know what they wanted the celebration to look like… yet, but they knew they wanted to celebrate.#SAIT100 Fireworks celebration

And so the idea begat the vision that was eventually created to have the biggest birthday party the campus had ever seen. No stone was left unturned, no idea was left unexplored. From birthday cake to fireworks, from time capsule unveilings (yes, there was more than one) to brewing Centennial Ale, the vision of pulling out all the stops had to come first.

This is the same for any success you dream of having in your life or in your business. You must start with a vision… A dream… that turns into a plan. Because if we have not yet thought of it, how are we going to make it happen?

  1. Have Focus

So now that we have decided to have a big birthday party, how are we going to get there? It has also been said that:

“A dream without a plan is just a wish.” ~ Katherine Paterson

A dream without a plan is just a wish. ~ Katherine PatersonClick To Tweet

Now that we have a vision, how are we going to achieve it? What will it take to get us there? We must have a plan that involves action. This goes for projects in the “real world” and also for our own visions of success.

You may have a vision of becoming a bestselling author, for example, but how are you going to make that happen? What is your plan to achieve that dream?

If you lay out your steps to success, and develop a plan to get there, you are much more likely to achieve your vision. You must know how to get there in order to make it happen.

  1. Have Determination

Then, of course, comes the really hard part. Determination and plain ole hard work.

 “Vision with action can change the world.” ~ Joel Barker


Vision with action can change the world. ~ Joel BarkerClick To Tweet

And while hard work is usually rewarded. It actually takes more than that. This is where the Brené Brown’s of the world like to play. In Rising Strong, Brown talks about what happens when we’re in the thick of it.. the muck.. the hard work.

There are many big defeats and many little successes. In the midst of working hard to achieve our vision, there is often lots of emotion and questioning if we took on too much, if we are ever going to get there, if this is really worth pursuing.

This is the middle, hard part where we have to pick ourselves up and pick ourselves up again.

As the project leader for the event team, it was said to me time and time again as we were working on the #SAIT100 project together: “When people told me my idea couldn’t be done,” she’d say, “I asked if it couldn’t or wouldn’t? Can’t or won’t?”

Pushing the boundaries of the so-called impossible is where the real hard work lay. And we must do that for ourselves in pursuing our own visions for our businesses, our careers, and our lives. Can’t do it or won’t do it? What do you choose?

  1. Build a Good Team

“Teamwork makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.” ~ John C. Maxwell

A vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team. John C. MaxwellClick To Tweet

Or, put another way, as Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great, “If you have the right people on your bus, you don’t need to worry about motivating them.” Building a team who worked well together and who were unified in focus on making this celebration the best it could be, was key to its success.

And not just the small, yet mighty, team that executed the key components of the plan, but the entire organization that included everyone from the caretaker to the CEO in making this the biggest party the campus had ever seen.

That was key to everyone feeling a part of the win and achieving the vision.

Which brings me to your business and your life. Who do you need on your bus? Who do you need around you to make sure your bus goes where you want it to go and you achieve the destination you set out to achieve?

Having the right people and support is key. We can rarely do it alone.

  1. Celebrate the Win

When all is said and done, and the party has gone off almost flawlessly, what do we do? We celebrate!

We acknowledge the key people who participated and relish in the afterglow of a job well done. This is so important. Celebrating the win is not just frivolous.

It’s what we were after all along. For what do we work hard for if not to succeed and experience the joy and pride that comes from working hard and seeing the vision come true?

This key step is sometimes overlooked. Why? Because it is actually difficult to accept praise. It is difficult to have people look at you and say “well done.”

Accept the praise. Accept the acknowledgments. Accept the recognition. It is, after all, often what we were after all along.

Comment below or send me a message. I love to hear your thoughts on winning and success. What does it take for you to feel successful in your work?

If you’re wanting help achieving success… Let’s talk.

With gratitude,
Susan Elford

PR Launchpad Guidebook ABOUT SUSAN ELFORD

Susan Elford is a Leadership Coach and PR Strategist who especially loves to work with women who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a full and satisfying life. Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.

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