The Contradiction That Creates Success

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Welcome to Tuesday’s Tips, the one-day a week when I dispense useful, actionable and empowering tips!

We all want success, whether that’s in relationship, career, family, friends or all these categories. So which personal attributes specifically create success? That’s easy. Success is equal parts self-critique and healthy detachment. It’s the never-ending quest for personal improvement along with healthy detachment from the outcome.

Think about it: You walk into an interview that you’ve spent a week preparing for. If you’ve got what it takes to be successful, that preparation included reflecting on the feedback you’d gotten from past interviews in which you were passed over. You thought about why you were passed over and you’ve since compensated by changing your resume, refining your elevator pitch and improving your interview answers. You spent the previous hour listening to songs that got your endorphins pumping, you’ve filled your mind with positive thoughts and now you’re in the interview.

The interview goes well but it was hard to read how the interviewer felt, and here’s where that contradiction comes in: If you have what it takes to be successful, you do not focus on whether you’re going to get the job. Instead, you focus on whether you upped your personal best, and then you let it go. You say whatever you need to say to yourself to let go of the outcome and to minimize your investment. Because if you are too invested and you get passed over again, you’ll become demoralized and you’ll tank on your next interview. The most successful people have healthy detachment.

So how do you cultivate both of these qualities?

  • Conduct an informal poll. Ask 2 family members, 2 friends and 2 colleagues to list your top strength and your top weakness. Write down their feedback.
  • Ponder the feedback. You’re inclination will be to defend and dispute the feedback on your weaknesses. Don’t. You’ve been given a gift. Pretend you have to make sense of the feedback. Identify an example from each person in which their feedback was correct. Decide on how you’ll compensate for the weaknesses identified. What specific actions will you engage in to create a different outcome? Commit to looking for the opportunity to do better.
  • Let it go. If you beat yourself up over the feedback on your weaknesses, you’ll become demoralized. We want to help you take risks, and people who are mistake-averse don’t take risks. Focus on what you want, focus on how you’ll do better, how you’ll up your personal best, and let the chips fall where they will. It will be hard at first but practice makes perfect.