I have seen many articles and suggestions over the years on success. They cover almost everything under the sun with advice for a person to be successful. Even Wikipedia would not be able to fit in the millions of suggestions, recommendations and opinions that have been offered as recipes for success. This is in spite of the fact that it is almost impossible to predict success. Its like Nostradamus predictions. Its very easy to connect events to predictions after the events happen. If we look at the focal point of how to succeed, we can see that there are two clear characteristics that ensure success. Or, to be more accurate two characteristics which will ensure a very high chance of success. However, let us first examine the other attributes that people credit success to
Ingredients for Success that people talk about:
Hard work, Education, Ethics, Capital, Grabbing the right opportunity, Location, Intelligence, Influence, Personality, the list is quite long. But to me, these are not the main ingredients for success. They are just additions. If you have them, great. If not, you can still succeed if you have the 2 major ingredients given below. To simplify a chaotic area where advice is given in volumes and volumes of books, let us look as all the ingredients given above as part of a food dish. If you replace hard work, education, ethics, capital, and others with tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes and meat to cook a nice dinner dish, you will realise that if many of these ingredients are missing, you can still cook a great dish. But one thing that you cannot miss is Timing! Take too long and you will burn the dish. Too little time and you will undercook it. So to with life and success. Timing is perhaps the most important characteristic for success, or in my opinion, the absolute No 1 characteristic for success
You may not work hard, but if your timing is right will still succeed. An uneducated or less educated person whose timing is right will succeed. What else is opportunity but something that comes to you at a right time. As for location, the right place at the right time is a common statement. Intelligent people who don't use opportunities at the correct time lose out, and a great personality at the wrong time is no use. So timing is key. There are hundreds of examples of this in our own lifetime. HP and a lot of companies had introduced tablets much before Apple. But Steve Jobs got the iPad timing spot on and made it a huge success. Ironically, Apple had windows on its iMacs a couple of years before Microsoft. But Windows is associated with Microsoft even today because their timing was absolutely perfect when it was launched.
Then let us look at business. Almost all car companies have experimented with electric cars for a long time. But Tesla got the timing right in that people are more environmental conscious today and want to buy electric cars. When Google came into the market there were a lot of search engines like Ask Jeeves, Alta Vista and others., but people wanted something that was superfast. Giving them the impression of collecting millions of pages of data which Google did also helped, but it was the speed of results that mattered. Perfect timing! And of course the iPhone became the highest selling phone of all time because Apple got the timing of the launch and the features that people wanted perfectly compared to its competition. It wiped out the market leader - Nokia in less than 3 years!
The road to success that is influenced by timing can be seen in almost any profession or walk of life. If you look at sports, timing is again key. Tiger Woods became one of the greatest golfers because he timed his move from amateur to professional perfectly. Not so with Tracy Austin who got it wrong and burnt out very fast, a tragedy for such a great talent because she became a professional too early in her career at just 14 years. Then there is Borg, the 5 time Swedish Wimbledon tennis champion who won with a wooden racket because he played at the right time. A few years after retirement, he came back with his wooden racket, but Tennis had changed so much that he made no impact. The same with politics. Abraham Lincoln became President because his opponents were highly divided due to the issue of slavery. At any other time he would have lost. The same with John F. Kennedy. He was behind in the polls in the elections to the Presidency, but the first ever televised debates changed everything and he won. If television had come 6 months later, Kennedy would have lost. So timing is the single most important element for success. But timing is difficult to judge. If it was easy, we would all find success easily. This is why timing rests on the important pillar of - Tenacity!
Life is a continuous process and we have to get the timing right throughout our lives. At some times, it will happen instinctively. At most times, it will not happen easily and it will be a struggle to recognise the right time and opportunity. At this stage, the only characteristic which will help you achieve success is tenacity. The problem is that most people give up. They feel that they cannot achieve more or settle for less and miss the opportunity around the corner. But the ones who have continued are guaranteed of success. We all know the story of Thomas Alva Edison who did 1,000 experiments before he created the light bulb. The timing of the light bulb was so perfect in an age of gas lighting that it changed people lifestyles. But the tenacity Edison showed was critical to his success. Then there was of course Lincoln who failed so many times in his career that it is the best example of tenacity I can think of. Julius Caeser cried when he saw the tomb of Alexander the Great because at 40, he was just starting his career while Alexander had died having achieved a lot before that. But Ceaser's perseverance paid off. He became greater and his name is still used today in multiple areas.
There are thousands of examples of tenacity which has bred success. JK Rowling the creator of Harry Potter who is a billionaire today was once on social security handouts without a job and struggled to pay the bills. When Elvis Presley went for his first singing audition, they told him he would be better off as a truck driver! Charlie Chaplins initial acts were rejected by Hollywood as they thought it was nonsensical! Winston Churchill was defeated for almost every election before he became Prime Minister. And, Henry Ford went broke 5 times before he succeeded. Tenacity breeds success.
The recipe for success:
Timing for sure. Even if you miss the timing during your career, it will come again and again. You just have to keep an eye out. Opportunity does not come once in a while. Not in today's world. It comes all the time. But the timing must be right or you will not gain from it. This is where tenacity comes into play. You need to keep at it and ensure that you don't give up. At some stage you will get the timing right and succeed. One of the best videos I have seen is a Ted video a few years back of Bill Gross who had invested in over a 100 companies including a few of the famous ones. He and his team did an analysis of why some companies failed and some did well. The single most important attribute he found for success? - timing! So while hardwork, intelligence, location, personality, and the other normal attributes are all 'good to have', Timing and Tenacity are 'must haves'. If you want to succeed, you must ensure that you look at getting your timing right and if it is not happening hang in there until you get it right. A sure recipe for success!!