Often when people reach the pinnacles of success it is because of a special gift or talent -- such as the ability to lead and inspire, or the capacity to develop a breakthrough product, or because they are driven to succeed. Other times, people reach the top simply because they make a steady, plodding effort in the course of their careers.

In research on what enables achievement in life, I have identified three levels of determining factors. The first contains the foundation -- i.e. the essentials for success. The second contains the more subtle, psychological factors that bring it about. And the third are the inner spiritual-like determinants of achievement. Let’s examine each of these more closely.

The first level contains the foundation and essential determining factors for success in life. They include our ability to target specific goals we aim to accomplish; our intense desire and will that they come about; our level of personal organization; the talent and skill we bring to bear; and the psychological strength we demonstrate in the face of life’s challenges. Aspiration, focus, will, organization, skill, and strength are thus the basic building blocks of success. Together they release enormous physical, vital, and mental energy that tends to attract vast success for that individual. Let’s examine several theoretical examples.

Consider the case of Eliza Gonzales, who currently demonstrates these capacities in spades. She has a keen interest in becoming a project portfolio manager; has the intense drive to make it happen; is fully organized in all aspects of her life; has all the necessary skills to accomplish; and has an innate ability to persevere in the face of life’s challenges. As a result, she has reached the very top of her field.

On the other hand, her colleague David Montaigne has not risen very far. Though he has had the aspiration and drive, he never developed the skills required of his position. Likewise, Sandra Lee, a co-worker of his, had the skills, but lacked the will and drive for achievement. Sanjay Aziz, a fourth member of the group, had the will and determination, but lacked focus in his life, as he was unable to formulate what he really wanted out of his career. Thus, where Eliza succeeded beyond measure, David, Sandra, and Sanjay plateaued at only modest levels of success.

The second group of factors that engender success are even more subjective and psychological. They take shape as our attitudes and personal values. In fact, if we examine Eliza’s great success, we see that she excelled in both areas. E.g., colleagues often described how positive her attitudes were -- in particular, how she always looked on the bright side of things; how full of self-confidence she was; how she always took responsibility for problems rather than blaming others; and how she always happily accepted what life had put before her. In this way, her attitudes -- about herself, about others, and about life -- will exemplary.

That cannot be said of the others in the group, each of whom had one or more significant wanting attitudes. One colleague had problems getting along with several staffers; another was consistently unhappy with the work assigned to her; and a third had a cynical, constricted view of what he could accomplish. As a result, each were burdened by psychological constraints that prevented them from reaching their full potential.

In addition to her very positive attitudes, there was something else Eliza had in abundance -- highly developed personal values. Everyone noticed how tolerant she was; how she encouraged others to express their opinions and make contributions; how committed she was to bridging the gap between the company and the surrounding community; and how dedicated she was for social change and improvement. Eliza’s values and beliefs sharpened her aspirations in life, gave her focus and energy, and enriched every activity she engaged in. On the other hand, her colleagues had trouble formulating their guiding principles and values, which created an intensity and energy vacuum in their careers. This conspicuous absence of clearly defined and applied personal values kept these members of the group from ever moving beyond the mediocre.

Finally, the third group of factors that determine our success level consists of spiritual-like behaviors and values that tend to attract ultimate achievement. Among them are-

• Our capacity to consciously seek out and embrace all sides of an issue, rather than just the one we are attached to.

• Our ability to respond calmly and with equal poise to the difficulties and challenges that come our way.

• Our ability to see negatives as positives in disguise, and adjust our behavior accordingly.

• Our capacity to be selfless and self-giving towards others, instead of acting out of ego and selfishness.

• Our ability to express our gratitude to others and towards life for all they have given us.

• Our faith that all will turn out well; that in fact a higher power is working on our behalf.

• Our ability to open to the spiritual force before engaging in any act, which has the effect of bringing life under our control.

• Our ability to think for ourselves, instead of being influenced by the herd.

• Our capacity for self-scrutiny; i.e. our aspiration for personal growth and improvement.

• Our desire to seek out life in full, and live a life of adventure and challenge.

All of the factors described above have one thing in common: they lead to ever-greater success in life. Taken together however, they generate an overwhelming power that brings about ultimate, infinite-like achievement. In fact, if we examine how such success comes to us, we will see that it arrives in two distinct fashions -- through the “to-be-expected way” and through the “life response way.” The former means that as we embrace these achievement factors, we move ahead in a logical and practical way. E.g., people will take notice of our new behaviors, skills, actions, etc., and we are rewarded through the to-be-expected channels and unfoldings of life.

The life response method on the other hand operates much differently. In this reality, when we embrace one or more of the success factors -- particularly the ones we are deficient in -- life instantly responds in kind, i.e. the very moment we change our inner orientation, life suddenly moves on our behalf, bringing us overwhelming good fortune. For example, if I shift away from my hostile attitude towards a co-worker, my boss suddenly appears in my office with word that I have been promoted to a much higher paying and satisfying job. This indicates the subtle, miraculous-like relationship between our inner selves and the world around us. When we change the inner, the outer instantly responds in kind.

If we can attract such powerful results by making these changes, then it only makes sense to take up the challenge. Therefore, why not review the success factors listed above, and come up with several areas where you are deficient. Then make the concerted effort to implement that change in your life. If you do, life will immediately start working on your behalf. That’s precisely what happened to Eliza when she made the decision to both improve her level of cleanliness and orderliness, as well as reverse her negative attitude towards her boss. From that day on, her career began to really take off. You can do the same thing in your life, and you too will be taken to the stars!

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