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The Essence of Success


Techniques > Self-Development > The Essence of Success

Passion | Invention | Resilience | See also


The essence of success, especially in business, can be summarized in three personal qualities: Passion, invention, and resilience. If an entrepreneur starts with these they will infect others and so become a leader of an unstoppable army.


Passion is about vision, focus and energy.

Vision means having a motivating view of the future. To be motivating it has to be memorable. This is helped, especially when communicating it to others, by keeping it short and simple. It should also be ambitious enough to be exciting, yet realistic enough to be achievable.

Vision gives direction, which helps focus. When you focus, you exclude everything but the matter in hand, which means you give it 100% of your attention. You can focus on many things that need your attention, but you must limit these to a critical subset. Focus means escaping the tyranny of the urgent. It is too easy to run from pillar to post putting out fires and yet never get to do anything important, even when you seem heroic.

Passion also gives energy, which leads to action. Unfocused energy leads to chaos and losses rather than gains. When focused, energy can achieve an amazing amount. Like passion, energy is also infectious. When others see you working with enthusiasm, they will want to join in. Even if they just don't want to be left behind, their energy will become positive once they start sharing in successes.

Passion not only leads to success. Success also fuels passion. When you succeed, even in small things, you feel good. Success gives you feedback, telling you that things are working. Long journeys are completed one step at a time.


Invention is the power behind success. It means seeing things that others have not. It means creating unique value that is strongly attractive. In business, this not only means having innovative products but also inventing new marketing, manufacturing and entirely new business models. The same principle applies in life

Creativity is the first step of invention, the devising of things that are not only new but also feasible and valuable.

While it is common to think oneself uncreative, it is very uncommon in practice. All children are creative yet many forget or suppress this ability as they try to fit in with a world that rewards conformity. All it takes is social permission and a bit of practice and you may surprise yourself with your ideas.

While personal creativity can be very powerful, it multiplies when people spark one another. Conducting this orchestra requires delicate leadership that both gives ideas space and also moves steadily towards closure

Invention takes creative ideas and turns them into practical solutions. Ideas often need time to develop. Invention hence needs to separate wild ideation from filtering these for interesting possibilities and then to developing prototypes that can be explored in simulations and safe environments.


A price of invention is failure. To invent is to risk. Many unexpected things can happen between idea and success. In fact if you aren't failing, you probably aren't risking enough. With some care, risks may be minimized, but they can never be avoided.

When things go wrong it is easy to get stressed, depressed or just give up in disgust. Resilience is the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself down and get on with things. This is more than stoically plodding on. It means sustaining your passion and inventiveness, even under heavy fire from those less able to weather the storms. In fact this is the time when these qualities are most essential.

Resilience is also about learning. When things go wrong, there are almost always ways to benefit from the experience to help you cope with future such situations or avoid them altogether. Learning includes seeking to understand causes, which is far better done without blame, seeking to understand systemic causes that may lead to any unhelpful ways of behaving. Blame implies people are incompetent or malevolent, which they very seldom are. It also leads to avoidance, excuses, blaming others and so on.

Leading for resilience means accepting responsibility and not blaming anyone. It means ensuring good learning, not hurriedly glossing over the truth. It means understanding and using well the trilogy of passion, invention and resilience.

See also

Personality, The Keys to Success


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