“When you match your passion to achieve with the knowledge and resources to achieve, your chances for success are great. If your passion is matched with good people, good decision-making, and a workable plan, your chances are even greater. And if your passion is matched with a commitment to operate at the highest standard, based on the best information available, on the best advice available, and with the best resources available, your success will move to the next level, and the next, and the next.” The Road to Your Best Stuff by Mike Williams
About the Title
For our purposes in this book, your stuff is the set of qualities you possess that, when combined, form a foundation for what you can achieve or accomplish in your life. Your stuff is the essence of what you have, including your strengths, your ideas, your skills or talents, your experience, your habits, your standards, and your passion, as applied to your life’s work, whatever the work might be. It is the fuel for what you can do or accomplish.
World-class achievers in various fields start with varying levels of skill, drive, confidence, and expectations. In aiming for your best stuff, we are looking to maximize opportunities for you to achieve at your highest level, even if it is not at the highest level of your special gifts or strengths. In the same way that it works for the highest achievers, it works for others. With the right mindset and the right skill set, all kinds of things can happen, to bring your best stuff to the fore. How you get there is: The Road To Your Best Stuff.
About the Book
This book offers a new perspective on achievement. It is based on my 25 years of work as a consultant and trainer, and a longer period of preparation through a series of jobs, projects, and experiences. It is also based on interviews and observations, formal and informal, with people who were at various stages of reaching for, and attaining, success in a variety of fields. It includes experiences with established and start-up business owners, heads of grassroots and large-scale nonprofit organizations, public agencies and public officials, and a wide array of civic, community, and business leaders. It draws on my experience as an activist, a broadcaster, a trainer, a program manager, a program analyst, and many other job experiences whose greatest combined value was to allow me to see a larger picture of achievement and to appreciate the challenges, pitfalls, and breakthroughs that occurred along the way.
What these people have in common is a desire, or at least a wish, to distinguish themselves in their respective fields and in many cases to reach some measure of financial success in the process.
Having worked directly with scores of consulting clients on hundreds of projects, having trained several hundred others, and having interviewed and observed even more, I have seen patterns of accomplishment, outright failure, and a reluctance to reach fully for obvious potential. Each of these patterns deserves our attention. The pages that follow provide some of that attention, with an emphasis on the requirements for establishing a high level of success, and continuing that success to higher and higher levels.
This book also reflects my work with a number of consulting clients. Many of them will be nameless for our purposes. The most notable exception is my long-standing role as a career and business strategist for motivational speaker Les Brown. Our collaborative work, presenting programs and products in the field of personal and professional development, ties into my own work as a marketing and management consultant for Brown and several other high achievers. In fact, the work with Les, and the many people I have met and observed through that work have influenced my perspective, directly and indirectly, and the advice I offer to clients on a much wider scale.
So, we will connect large-scale, continuous success to the mastery of four dimensions—personal, professional, organizational and promotional. Whatever your field of choice, the pages that follow establish an approach for rising to the next level, and the one beyond that. Often, the examples given greatest attention involve unconventional careers, many of which seem to be growing in popularity. Simply stated, it is necessary to be strongly connected with the attributes that are fundamental to who you are, in order to establish a foundation for long-range and continuously rising success. As important as it is to master the skill set that can make success achievable and repeatable, it is the mindset that will determine the extent of that success via the habits it takes to repeat success.
Beyond paying attention to the personal dimension, your personal side, your impact will be connected to getting to know the professional requirements for success in your field and where you stand in the midst of things. The challenge in the professional dimension is to develop a process for assuring that your level of mastery meets the standards for your field, and, beyond that, becomes the basis for your ability to distinguish yourself among your peers and in the circles where your credibility and viability are determined.
Once you are clear about who you are, what you’ve got, what you want, and where you are, in terms of your personal and professional development, you can effectively address the necessary, but often overlooked, organizational dimension, and its role in helping you rise from one level to the next. To go far beyond where you are now, you have to identify, attract and incorporate key people, and the resources they bring, into your effort. Virtually nothing of major consequence happens between a great idea and a great and repeatable achievement without the involvement of others. So, attention must be given to organization and a keen awareness of how your work habits might help or hinder your ability to maximize resources and build a career, business or cause that can sustain itself and continue to grow.
When you have a sense of yourself as viewed in personal, professional and organizational ways, you can effectively focus attention on the promotional area, where you create the connection between your stuff and the requirements of the marketplace. Unlike the professional dimension, where you look at the technical and informational aspects of a field, in the promotional dimension you are developing strategies and efforts for approaching and actually succeeding in the marketplace. Aside from how good you are at what you do, or the quality of what you offer, it is important to have an awareness of yourself from the vantage point of those who hire, support or do business with people who do what you do.
By exploring several fields, and learning from people whose lives and careers provide obvious examples, we are better able to determine a course for ourselves and a handle for our future. If you have no aspiration for changing the world, your life, or your field in some dramatic way, then what follows may have little meaning or value. On the other hand, if your aims are high and your intentions are serious, this book can help you do something special with your stuff.
We will explore in the coming pages how your view of yourself will determine how hard you work, how good you become, the quality of resources you attract, and how well you are able to gain, repeat, and elevate success. The resources we attract go a long way in determining how far we go and how much we can achieve. How we see ourselves will play a major role in determining the quality of relationships we form, the extent to which we can build trust, the ease with which we present ourselves and our stuff in the marketplace, and how well other views are considered and factored into our decisions.
When I was midway through writing this book, I ran into an old buddy whose track record in business has earned the envy of many who know his accomplishments. He has earned millions through a variety of ventures, having lots of reasons to feel good about what he has done. But in our conversation that evening, he made it clear that he sees himself as an underachiever, someone who didn’t get further because he was not comfortable in his own skin. He said he didn’t feel that good about himself and it stopped him. His candor shocked me. We hadn’t talked in depth in a number of years, and it seemed that those years had taught him some things about himself that he didn’t mind sharing.
No doubt, when you have a limited view of yourself and your possibilities, it blocks your commitment to good habits, promotes poor decision-making, and lowers your expectations. And once expectations are lowered, everything negative falls into place to assure that your grasp stops far short of your reach.
There is no question that what you know can make a big difference in how far your business, career or cause can go. But as successes begin to mount, and you are looking for ways to go to higher and higher levels, more of the keys to breakthroughs will come from your inner search. The better you know and accept yourself, the better prepared you will be for the challenges at the higher levels.