I’m often asked by journalists to what I attribute my success. They believe it’s an easy question to answer and expect a superficial sound bite that makes good reading, whereas in reality it’s a profound subject that deserves a thoughtful response.
First of all, one should understand what ‘success’ really means. According to the Cambridge Dictionary it’s “the achieving of desired results”. In this case, success does not mean the ability to accumulate wealth, as so many people in this materialistic age seem to think.
It rather means the translation of one’s ambitions or dream into reality whether that dream is to be a great poet, a politician, a family man, a sage, an entrepreneur or just a really good and compassionate human being. One must also be careful not to confuse the outward trappings of success with actual success and remember not to judge a book by its cover.
We all know people who outwardly appear successful when inside they are tormented or regretful. There are many celebrities, for instance, who give the impression they have it all but judging by their self-destructive actions they view themselves are lacking.
I do not set myself up to be a self-help guru and I don’t possess a magical formula for success. If I did, I would bottle it and share it with as many people as possible to help them reach their potential. I can, however, describe what success means to me and give you a small inkling of my road to self-fulfilment.
My life was enriched by wonderful parents, who taught me strong values and the importance of independence and self-discipline. I grew up at a time when life was harsh for almost everyone in Dubai but at the same time, we benefited from close family ties and solid friendships.
Those were the days when human relationships came first. People were inherently honest and kept their word. We were taught to be hospitable and to help one another. We were told that the family’s true wealth was its reputation. Business was done over a handshake, for instance. My fond memories of those times ensure that my feet are always firmly on the ground.
Every day, there are small or large challenges or obstacles to overcome and every day brings either small successes or frustrations. This is, after all, the human condition and no one is exempt from it. This is a topic that requires a book. It’s too deep and too broad to be tackled on a page of a magazine, so for the sake of brevity I’ll concentrate on 10 factors, which I believe are broadly essential to achieve success in business; ambition, vision, dedication, self-discipline, positive-thinking, intuition, opportunity, ability to judge character, interpersonal skills and luck.
Ambition is a must. Before you take a step forward you need to set a goal or a series of goals. I think it was the inspirational author Norman Vincent Peale who wrote “All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do”.
Another of my favourite quotes is “Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars”. In other words, don’t be afraid. Go for it!
Once you are set on becoming an achiever, you need to develop a vision. Use your imagination. Visualise a project. See the idea budding and developing in your mind’s eye.
Next you need to set priorities. In the beginning you need to devote time and energy to achieve your goals. Be single minded and dedicated. Nothing comes easy so don’t shy away from hard work.
This is where self-discipline comes in. You’ll find that most high-achievers in business get up early and schedule their day to fit in as much as possible. The old saying ‘the early bird catches the worm’ is just as true today as it always was.
At the same time, you should maintain a healthy lifestyle. Keep your energy high with a healthy diet and regular exercise and your mind free of negative thoughts. Keep some quiet time for yourself no matter how busy you get. In my own case, I always put aside an hour or two each day for a game of tennis and try to enjoy as much quality time with the family as I can.
Believe in yourself. If you think you can do it, you can. It’s also vital to develop the ability to trust in your own intuition; that little voice inside your head that warns you at times and encourages you at others. There are times when our rational mind or our intellect leads us in one direction and our intuition in another. Go with your gut feeling. If you’re not sure about a certain path, then as a rule of thumb don’t go there.
in business also requires a willingness to grasp opportunities. There are people who have a natural knack of recognising opportunity and forcefully grabbing it and there are people who wouldn’t see an opportunity even if it jumped up and bit them. Others have the capability of recognising that an opportunity exists but either they don’t have the courage to take it or they hesitate.
Man is not an island unto himself. We need associates and colleagues that we can rely on. Personally, I put a very high premium on loyalty, both received and given. It’s extremely advantageous to surround yourself with not only skilled and talented people, but also good people, who genuinely have your interests and those of your company at heart. When such rare individuals cross your path you need to be able to recognise them and value them. Your natural ability to correctly judge character is an invaluable asset.
We need to network and reach out to others. We need to be able to delegate to people we can trust. We should never be too arrogant to reject a helping hand or to offer one to those in need.
Lastly, it would be foolish to discount the role that luck has to play. There are always events that we cannot control. There are always setbacks on the ladder due to unforeseen sets of circumstances.
We can’t always be winners but we can learn important lessons from temporary misfortunes as long as we remember to count our blessings and instead of seeing the glass as half-empty realise that, in fact, it’s half full.
We may not be able to conquer every battle that life throws at us but as long as we keep our head when all around us are losing theirs in the end we will always win the war. Now that’s real success!