Elements of Success

In light of changes brought on by the coronavirus crisis, the most often-asked question I’ve gotten in recent days is this: “Does all this change success? I feel like I’ve been working toward a goal and I want desperately to be successful. But will all that is going on around us, how has that changed?” That’s a fair question. In response, I believe there are three elements of success. Regardless what changes around you you can gauge your progress by these. Let’s take a look at the first one.

Elements of Success

Certainly a lot has changed recently. We have to be aware of all those things that are in the midst of changing even now. But there are also constants that we need to be aware of too. The constant truths in our lives are the things that we need to continue to focus on and concentrate on during these days.

I’ve always believed there are three elements of success necessary for an individual to excel regardless of how that individual may define success. I stress three elements — not one, not two, but three. With only one or two of them present, we will not experience the real level of success that we’re capable of. So all three are necessary.

The First Element of Success: Knowledge

In a three part conversation, I will identify each of the elements of success. The first characteristic of success? It’s knowledge. Knowledge. Now most of us have been blessed with the opportunity for education, from the elementary level to the high school level. And many of us have had the opportunity to go on to higher levels of learning through institutions such as colleges, trade schools, or special certifications.

Knowledge is a good thing. It is the accumulation of facts and information that is available to us at any moment in time.

But I would suggest to you that knowledge alone is not enough to be successful. It never has been and it isn’t now. With the change we’re experiencing, it never will be.

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What is “Knowledge”?

So what is knowledge? Is it important enough to focus on? Of course it is. We have to acquire the knowledge necessary for those activities in which we are wishing to be successful. If you want to be a successful doctor, you have to acquire the foundational base knowledge necessary. To be a successful parent, you have to learn what it takes to be a parent. And if you want to be a successful business person, that knowledge is necessary as well.

But I’m going to argue that it’s not knowledge specifically that is most important in the acquisition of information. Instead, it’s the understanding of that information that brings the knowledge to life — the understanding.

Knowledge Equals Understanding

Think about it this way. For success purposes, knowledge for equals understanding. How would I define understanding? You can know that you understand the knowledge appropriately in a couple ways.

First, can you answer questions others ask of you about the particular subject? For example, if someone asks you, “I’d like to talk to you about this issue. I have a few questions to ask you.” Hopefully you’ll be able to answer most, if not all of the questions they ask. And if you can answer them intelligently with knowledge-based responses, then quite frankly, you’re on your way to being successful.

Congratulations! Now, here are two actions you can employ to take your understanding even further.

Does “Not Knowing” Mean Disaster?

But what if they ask me a question that I can’t answer? “Phil, can you answer this question?” And the answer the honest answer is “No, I can’t answer that question.” Does that mean I have now derailed my possibility for success? No.

See knowledge equaling understanding simply means I have to know what I know. But also when I don’t know the answer to something, I have enough understanding to know where to go to find that information. In other words, if I can’t answer the question, I’ll at least have some alternatives that can lead me to the answer.

So knowledge is not just knowing facts, figures, statistics, etc. Knowledge is having that information, but then understanding it well enough to know how to use that information. That is a critical step in the success formula going forward.

Remember what I said before? To be successful requires three elements. Knowledge with understanding is the first of those three elements of success. I’ll share the other two elements of success in my next posts.

What to Do if Knowledge is Lacking

But for you today, the question should be this: “In the area that I’m trying to be successful, do I have enough knowledge and do I understand it well enough to move forward?”

If the answer is no, it’s time to go to work. It’s time to increase your knowledge and understanding. Start working in that realm. But if the answer to your question is “yes, I have good knowledge and I understand it fairly well,” then stay tuned — the next of the three elements of success is coming soon.

#knowledgeequalsunderstanding #knowwhatyoudontknow #elementsofsuccess

Phillip Van Hooser
Author: Phillip Van Hooser
Phillip Van Hooser, CSP, CPAE is committed to helping organizations transform their business outcomes by building engaged employee relationships. He is an award-winning keynote speaker and author on leadership, service and communication. His popular book, “Willie's Way: 6 Secrets for Wooing, Wowing and Winning Customers and Their Loyalty” recently hit #1 in Customer Relations on the Kindle store. Connect with Phil on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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