Success is an elusive and time sensitive condition that is usually not a constant. Yet some people experience it in their careers and lives more consistently than others. So what is the secret for achieving success? I recently watched an interesting video called, “Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference” that demonstrated the innovative products and inventions from Israel. It provided some interesting insights into some of the things that have contributed to Israel’s achievement of success.

The video featured the observations of a Harvard psychologist and PhD, Tal Ben-Shahar who speaks of a unique combination of actualizers that have contributed to the success of Israel as a country. Yet these actualizers are not limited to countries, they may also provide us with clues as to how to ensure personal success in our lives.

Caring, Supportive and Nurturing Family

According to Ben-Shahar, “Family is the soil in which growth takes place.” When children are raised in warm, caring and nurturing family units, they receive a strong foundation in life that ultimately allows them to experience a greater chance for success. The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” points to the responsibility of the entire community in fulfilling this task, regardless of a child’s biological parent(s).

Warmth and caring early in life makes for confident adults who feel secure and empowered. These individuals naturally strive to become independent because they feel able to fulfill their life’s dreams. And with emotional strength, comes resiliency; the ability to bounce back from adversity and be able to overcome the obstacles and challenges that life throws at each of us. Hence a caring, supportive and nurturing family unit in which everyone takes care of each other is a powerful actualizer for success in our lives.

Chutzpah–a Combination of Boldness and Determination

What is chutzpah? Chutzpah is the quality of audacity, for good or for bad. It derives from the Hebrew word “huspa,” meaning “insolence” or “audacity.” However, the modern English usage of the word has taken on a broader meaning that may be interpreted as the amount of courage, mettle or ardour that an individual has. In this context it is a combination of boldness, gall and fearlessness. Chutzpah means not taking “no” for an answer. It also means challenging the status quo. Chuzpah is what allows us to “pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again.” It is another powerful actualizer for success.

Education

Education is an obvious predictor for success in life, which is why so many Western societies have advanced. However, the greatest value of education is that it encourages us to ask questions. Through questions we are motivated to find answers. Seeking these answers is what allows us to learn and uncover opportunities for success. Interestingly, the more we learn, the more we realize what we don’t know and this continuous cycle of exploration allows us to seek more answers to our questions. The outcome of learning is that it teaches us to challenge the status quo and in this way begins to foster innovative thinking and creativity; making it a very powerful actualizer for success.

Taking Action

The first three actualizers prepare us for success but do not guarantee it. We must move our ideas into action to succeed. Taking action is likely to involve significant effort and dedication and not taking action is often the barrier to success in our lives. Taking action may require help and support from others as well as personal tenacity and firm resolve when our plans run into snags; but it is a critical actualizer for success.

Achieving Focus and Meaning through Tikkun Olam—Repairing the World

“Tikkun olam” is a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world” (or “healing and restoring the world”) which suggests humanity’s shared responsibility (with the Creator) “to heal, repair and transform the world.” In a broader sense, it means taking responsibility for the welfare of the society at large and promoting goodness through positive social action. Tikkun Olam forces one to question the value of what we do in the context of improving the state of the world and helping others. It gives us focus and adds meaning to our work; helping us to act for something that is greater than ourselves.

Think about the greatest heroes, inventors and leaders in history and what they contributed in the world. Their actions ultimately moved the world forward because they helped people; they made lives better in some way and added value to the world. While not all of us may hope to become a: Ghandi, Sister Theresa, Alexander Graham Bell, Jonas Salk or Albert Einstein, we can and do make a difference when we dedicate ourselves to promoting goodness for those around us.

If we apply the concept of “tikkun olam” to our everyday lives on a smaller scale; thinking about the good we can do in our personal circles of influence, we improve our chance for success. It begins when we ask ourselves, “What can I do to improve my life and the lives of those around me?” Or, “How can I use my unique talents and strengths to help others?” Promoting goodness through “Tikkun Olam” motivates us; propelling our efforts in a significant and meaningful way; it gives us meaning and purpose in life and motivation to succeed. This is why it is a significant actualizer for success.

Conclusion

While each of the five actualizers mentioned contribute to success; it is the combination of all these five actualizers that truly create a competitive edge for each of us. Therefore strive to work on all these five success actualizers and see how it makes a difference in your success.

Sally Stanleigh

Sally Stanleigh is a senior partner in Business Improvement Architects and the Chief Operating Officer. Sally manages the operation and develops and implements communications, marketing and promotion programs. She is also responsible for spearheading and managing the company's corporate research projects. Sally has a background in marketing and communications and previously worked as a senior product manager with multi-national corporations such as Colgate-Palmolive and Phillip Morris before founding Business Improvement Architects with her husband and partner, Michael Stanleigh. On occasion, Sally is asked by clients for help with business planning. She facilitates the planning process as a consultant and helps clients with the development of their marketing plans and programs. She has also presented to professional groups on such topics as: customer feedback systems, employee motivation, development of incentive programs and trends. You may contact her at sstanleigh@bia.ca.