Steven R. Covey, in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” -a book first published in 1989- outlines a guide for living an effective life. He does not necessarily say an effective person, is a successful person, but most readers would reach that conclusion on their own. With apologies to Mr. Covey, I have condensed seven habits into two.
Giving advice can be a dicey matter. By the very act of being willing to give it, you run the risk of implying that you have earned the right to impart wisdom. To be clear, I have not. However, over the years I have made observations of those whom I would consider far more successful than I, and in the process reached some conclusions.
Firstly, as a general rule, successful people are remarkably willing to share their knowledge for free if I am only willing to ask and listen. (Unfortunately, the uber willingness of the unsuccessful to share their wisdom requires of us to do a bit of weeding out.) This came as a surprise to me early in my career, but upon consideration makes perfect sense. What does an extremely successful real estate broker have to fear from me? You are right -nothing! The same I would argue, is true for virtually every walk of life. Like the parable of the crab in the bucket, it is those trying to escape their lot in life who are most likely to try to drag us down. Those whom have escaped the bucket need not fear me, (nor anyone else) and are therefore free to share the knowledge gained from their experiences. The problem is, that most of us are reluctant to ask. Rather, we invest in self help books and life coaches to reach the same conclusion most of us could have reached for free.
Secondly, successful people can usually be counted on for their honesty. It is remarkable how little intelligence it takes to tell the truth, and equally remarkable how smart one has to be to be a good liar. Yet, honesty is the foundation of trust, and trust is the foundation of a good relationship – both business and personal. It only makes sense that successful people are usually the ones with good relationships.
This came to my mind recently as an agent whom I respect a great deal, recounted with lament a situation in which an agent on the other side of a transaction did not seem to trust his actions or intent. While I would acknowledge this can be frustrating, it is good to remind ourselves in such cases of the adage: if you have integrity, nothing else matters, and if you don’t nothing else matters. Sure, he could assert himself and protest his innocence, but as George Bernard Shaw figured out, there is no sense wrestling with a pig, you both get dirty, and the pig enjoys it. Rather, I would argue that so long as you have told the truth, no further discussion is necessary.
Success of course, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. If one considers wealth accumulation the only measure of success, you would not have trouble finding examples that prove my theory wrong. Most of us however, would accept that success is more than money. Money is nice, but it cannot buy as soft a pillow as a clear conscience.
Thanks for reading,