• March 2012

Why Is Attaining "Success" Such a Hard Nut to Crack?

By Laura Berger
Executive Coach and Principal,
The Berdéo Group

First, let me ask a question: Is success such a hard nut to crack?

Now, allow me to let you in on a secret. The nut is you.

Why? Because so many of us run around asking this question—in our heads and to other people, but the truth is that you have the power within you to be successful in whatever you choose. It is your ability to think big that determines the success or failure of your business.

The Five Ps: Passion, Plan, Premeditated Risk, Persistence, People

I have two clients who recently mastered the art of business success: “Bob” and “Mary.” Both are thriving entrepreneurs. Bob sold his Internet business to a giant player in the cruise industry. Mary sold her investment advisory company to a larger investment firm.

In our work together, the golden threads of success have been and continue to be the 5 Ps. Here’s how it works:

1. Embrace Your Passion. You know when you are on fire. It’s the heat that intrinsically motivates you to move beyond your comfort zone. This fuel not only helps you achieve your potential, it drowns the noise of others’ opinions so that you can hear your own inner voice. Driven by their passion, my clients’ were able to create the vision for their future—the one that became their reality.

“There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” — Nelson Mandela

2. Have a Plan: It’s Your Secret Ingredient. It has been said before, and it’ll be said again: “Write it down, make it happen.” Do it now. Pick up a pen and make a list of what you want to be doing in five years, where you’ll be doing it, and what this will actually feel like when you get there. A written plan will not only keep you on track, it will help you identify how far along the path you have gone, and how far you have to travel to get to your destination. Keep your advances visible and make them clear. For example there was no off-the-shelf scale to measure Bob’s goal to “create a new software product for the cruise industry.” Instead, he tracked his successes based on the amount of coding that he got done during a day. Remember, small successes can be extremely powerful in helping people believe in themselves and motivate them to take it to the next level.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” — Vincent van Gogh

3. Take Premeditated Risks. Avoiding risk is a surefire way to remain mediocre. Taking a risk, and failing, is always a possibility. So get comfortable with the concept of risk. And keep in mind that it is through stumbling that you learn how to succeed. Embrace your fears, learn how to manage ambiguity, stretch your imagination, stretch your expectations, and dare to do the impossible.

“Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” — Helen Keller

4. Persist. How long is a long enough amount of time to attain your goal of success? Before you answer, I challenge you to ask yourself: How persistent am I? In fact, one person’s persistence will accomplish more than a thousand people who are just interested. Success won’t simply fall into your lap; you have to chase it down. Many deals went awry before Mary secured a buyer for her business. She spent time honing the craft of writing proposals, finding potential buyers who were truly the right fit to acquire her firm, and learning from her mistakes.

_“Persistence is the twin sister of excellence. One is a matter of quality; the other, a matter of time.” — Marabel Morgan

5. People. Surround yourself with those who will support you in your efforts. Yes, you have heard it before, but like most things in business and life, it’s an art to know who truly are your best supporters. The key is to know, and be known, by people who will give you the proper advice to advance your business. It often takes time to find the right folks to sit in the seats around you, actually or metaphorically. Here is a list of people you probably need to know, and who need to know you:

  • Advisors: People who have climbed a similar ladder in their careers who can review your work, your methods, and your career and who can provide valuable feedback—feedback you will embrace and act on.
  • Clients: The people who will contract your services, buy your products, or give you assignments.
  • Coaches: People who have your back and are consistently in your corner. They know your limits and your potential and will help keep you focused and challenge you to continue to grow.
  • Peers: Other driven people and friends who are navigating their own pursuits and who are striving as you are.

Now get cracking and unleash the power within you!


About Laura Berger

An executive advisor and founder of The Berdéo Group, Laura Berger has 15 years of experience as a consultant advising leadership in the areas of global operations management and strategy, project and change management, and solution development and implementation. She is a confidant of CEOs and senior executives who consistently realize their potential as leaders by seeing their companies flourish.

Having worked with many Fortune 500 companies, she counts among her clients leaders at JPMorgan Chase, State Farm Insurance, United Airlines, General Motors, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, McDonald’s Corporation, American Hospital Association, Leo Burnett Worldwide, Starcom MediaVest Group, and Walt Disney World.

Her ease and zeal for building lasting relationships, acquaintances, and productive introductions between people is her personal trademark. She has stretched her own spirit and will to combine her passions with her professional pursuits, and she shows others how to live true to their core.

Berger exemplifies this commitment to the life path in Fall in Love Again, Every Day, a book she co-authored with her husband, Glen Tibaldeo. The book chronicles the humorous side of the successes and challenges they experienced living in the remote jungles of Costa Rica.

For more information, visit www.berdeogroup.com.