Often, we incorporate material things to success. We see a man driving a Maserati and already we think the man is successful. A woman is rocking a Louboutin, and we think she is successful. But this way of thinking is entirely absurd.
As you’ll learn, material trappings are not what measure success. Rather, it is the inner quality that anyone can build, and not luxury cars or branded items.
So, what are these internal qualities you should build and how? A self-development behemoth, Steven Covey’s advice focuses on learning the 12 levers of success. And this article will help you gain knowledge of these levers and help you find ways to use them for your advantage. If you follow this advice, you will be able to establish a fulfilling and peaceful life that is led with primary greatness.
- Why importance trumps urgency
- How to find your purpose
- Why you should imagine the worst.
Inner character is the driver of true success, and it can be developed.
So, how do you spot success?
Rolex watches, champagne by the beck of a Long Island beach house, Armani suits, Mustangs—sure, these may be some of the wealth symbols, but not enough signs for success. And it is not because success requires something much more expensive, no. As a matter of fact, true success cannot be seen.
Real success comes from primary greatness; a phenomenon that occurs when a man personifies estimable qualities such as diligence, nobility, integrity, authentic commitment, selflessness, and a dedication to go beyond.
On the other hand, secondary greatness can be seen—money, fame, and status symbols. It often leads to dead-ends at pleasures that have no true essence in a man’s life unlike primary greatness that fulfills and produces inner peace.
If you have not developed these stalwart inner attributes, it is not too late for you. These traits can be acquired and developed. You can still work on these traits for your success.
Back in 1965, the Perry Preschool Project began stalking 123 inner-city preschoolers in Michigan. In two groups, they were labeled as ‘test’ and ‘control’.
The test group was educated at an early age through uninteresting and low-reward tasks. The goal was to delay pleasure. Fifty year later and those in test group ended up being much more successful than those from the control group. They graduated, found jobs, and fewer experienced jail time.
Developing primary greatness was the main explanation behind these results.
So, how can you develop yours?
Through the set of principles that can be the foundation of your primary greatness or the 12 levers, you can start developing integrity, contribution, priority, personal sacrifice, service, reciprocity, diversity, responsibility, loyalty, learning, teaching and renewal.
These are the results of the author’s extensive research through the thousands of people worldwide he taught and learned from.
Self-affirmations and an abundance mind-set will set the stage for primary greatness.
What are the benefits of primary greatness?
Consider these innumerable and bravura—inner peace, long-lasting prosperity, and a sense of fulfillment. Now, let us get your mental condition ready for some handy modus operandi you can do to accomplish these benefits.
This is going to be between you and yourself. You will have to encourage yourself, affirm the life you wish to live, and nudge you some ambitions.
Such technique is best used against procrastinating, too. As we all know, procrastination often hinders us from getting things done not just on time but at all. Thus, affirmation against delay would help you develop a different habit. Your affirmation can sound like, ‘It’s gratifying to take control and guide my own life by proactively planning my time and following through on my plans. ‘It’s gratifying to take control and guide my own life by proactively planning my time and following through on my plans.” It’s gratifying to take control and guide my own life by proactively planning my time and following through on my plans.”
After you gain the perfect affirmation that can work for you, enhance its efficacy through the following:
First thing to do is to relax. In a calm state, your brain waves slow down, giving a chance to you sensory input to be more receptive. Good reception is the key when you pronounce your affirmations to yourself.
Next, be consistent with the same affirmation daily. What you say and believe often would more like to manifest.
Then, change your mind-set. Focus your mentality on optimistic and copious things unlike what most people do. Crab mentality will influence you to view the world with a savage outlook. This can be injurious to your success.
Imagine a basketball player not passing the ball to any of his teammates and instead tries to score on his own. He will soon tire as the time runs out. Such attitude can cost morale, fairness, and the game.
Having an abundance mind-set would allow the player to have a win-win point of view. He then will pass the ball, let his teammates score, increase the team morale, and bring home the bacon.
Integrity, the foundation of primary greatness, aligns your values, beliefs and actions.
Integrity is one of the words in the dictionary to which most people do not relate in a deep sense. Since this is the first of the 12 levers, it is important to know its meaning. The author agrees to this, he even found that integrity is a combination of two traits: humility and courage.
If you have the right blend of humility and courage, you can be a man of integrity.
The author gives a great example of integrity through his friend’s humility. Once, a close friend hurt him deeply. After realizing this, his friend offered him a heartfelt apology. Impressed to such humility, the author asked his friend how he managed to apologize. His friend told him about the two options he had; pay heed to his conscience and offer a genuine request for forgiveness or let his ego kick in and offer a halfhearted one.
His friend’s integrity was a combination of humility and courage to admit that he was at fault, which moved and inspired the author to completely absolve him.
Integrity can align your values, beliefs, and actions. It will benefit you with congruence.
Through congruence, it should be easier to gain trust, because you appear genuine. When your beliefs and values match your actions, you seem more authentic and without any hidden motives. Walking your talk would come naturally.
Foster the levers of contribution and prioritization by finding your purpose.
A person needs purpose to give him a sense of direction and obligation. But only five to ten percent of the people truly work on their purpose in life.
One’s contribution to the world is his purpose. And as stated above, contribution is the second lever. To identify your purpose, consider asking yourself these questions;
What does this world lack?
What am I good at?
How could I contribute by doing something I like?
Often, we search high and low, aim too high and fail to notice that the very purpose we are looking for is right in front of us, waiting to be discovered.
The film Mr. Holland’s Opus’ protagonist aims of becoming a celebrated composer; however, he is forced to be a music teacher. Needless to say, he hates what he does for a living. But after the years pass by, he starts to love his students and enjoys teaching them. By the end of the film, the protagonist does not end up being a renowned composer but a great teacher who helps thousands of students to learn music.
Your purpose might be right in front of your eyes. And once you have found it, you are then ready to focus on the third lever; prioritization.
Differentiate between vital non-urgent tasks and urgent but non-important tasks. Prioritizing is going for important but non-urgent tasks.
For example, you found your purpose as a doctor, and while doing a heart surgery to save a life, a nurse runs in to inform you of an urgent phone call. Of course, the most important thing during this situation is the patient’s survival, which means no matter how urgent the phone call is it is not to be prioritized.
As a doctor in this situation, your purpose is to save a life. Thus, prioritize what leads to this purpose.
The levers of sacrifice and service encourage personal connections, which are essential to success.
Being selfish in occasional situations can be normal. However, if you are after a productive bond with the people you care for, work on the fourth lever of success—sacrifice.
Now, hold up. This does not have to cost you your life. This can be performed in the simplest things—washing the dishes, calling your mother, driving your friend home.
It simply means letting your ego take the back seat as you focus on what benefits others, emphasizing the product of shared efforts instead of gathering all the credits, and of course, applying humility.
Take this short story as a good example. A company president together with his vice went on a business trip. On the second day, the vice president woke up and found his president shining his shoes. This was very unlikely in his eyes, but nevertheless, the sight moved him and brought the two executives together.
You would be surprised to know that sacrificing your ego does not hurt at all. And it can go a very long way if long-lasting bond is what you are trying to build.
That being said, sacrifice can often lead to the fifth lever of success—service. It is about doing what would benefit other people, which strengthen bonds. Speak as though you are addressing just a single person; show personal engagement partnered with presence.
An anecdote suggests a good example of this point. There was once a star of a play experiencing some troubles trying to capture the attention of his viewers. A mentally-present friend of his got off his seat, walked toward the stage, and mouthed ‘talk to me’. The performer luckily understood, and so he addressed the whole crowd as if everybody was his close friend. And this act won the crowd’s engagement.
The levers of reciprocity and diversity result in productive relationships.
Now, it is time to make your strengthened relationships productive. How so? Feel secure about yourself. It will be the foundation of the sixth and seventh lever of success—reciprocity and diversity.
Acquire that deeper sense of inner security. By doing so, you enable yourself to be open to the unfamiliar ideas and opinions, which clothe you with empathy.
New viewpoints and different ideas could seem menacing to someone who does not have self-assurance. And such threat could often become much more personal.
Build yourself a strong solid wall of self-confidence before you start reciprocating. Once your insecurity finally up and left, you can focus on these two things to reciprocate;
First, bonding—the more bonded you are with someone; the less likely you would be selfish.
Second, establish an open communication—converse your problems, speak your mind, and share ideas while working on solutions to increase your ability to reciprocate.
From self-assurance comes another lever of success—diversity. It is encouraging a variety of expertise, characters, ideas, and opinions.
Avoid limited thinking by cheering others to accept difference and speak their minds without any fear or hesitations. Do not view dissimilarity as a sign of hostility.
Remember, diversity within the team is vital for inventiveness and modernization. Often, you create a difference when you embrace diversity. Welcoming fresh and different ideas can lead to great projects and products.
Stay accountable with the levers of loyalty and responsibility.
Perhaps you have experienced being in a get-together with a group of friends, enjoying a great time together when a friend started badmouthing an absent pal or colleague—terribly noxious yet truly common.
Now, it is time for the eight lever of success—loyalty, which plays a role in your ability to respect others. Loyalty parallels respect, especially in removing negativity in you interactions and labels.
For example, if a colleague verbally offends you and knows that you expect her to be hateful as you labeled her in your mind, she will act based on that expectation.
Always keep the golden rule in mind; do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you. If you do not wish to be labeled, avoid doing the same. On the contrary, use positive words to brawl against pessimism.
Should there be any slip ups on your end, take responsibility. Acknowledge your gaffe and offer a sincere admission of guilt. This is the ninth lever of success. And then, once you receive the absolution, do not take it for granted by repeating the same fault.
The lever of teaching complements and reinforces the lever of learning.
The tenth lever of success—learning—should be a constant process. Otherwise, you would start becoming irrelevant. Whatever abilities you have at this point should be developed through consistent education if you wish to still be valuable in the future.
The cofounder of Ritz-Carlton hotel chain, Horst Schulze, understands the importance of constant learning. In fact, he believes that a skilled workforce is the backbone of his company. And truly so, his workforce learns through the daily training program he provides for his people despite its cost.
Learning does not have to be costly to count. As a matter of fact, you can even come up with your own learning curriculum. For example, if you want to learn about business, learn through academic journals such as the Harvard Business Review or Fortune magazine. You can depend on classic reads like Shakespeare to help you broaden the scope of your learning.
Are you more of a watcher than a reader? TED talks available online got you covered. You can even enroll in MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses available in the internet realm.
The eleventh lever of success—teaching—can also help you learn more.
Dr. Walter Gong, a professor at San Jose State University, taught the author the vital contribution of teaching in the learning process. He even used this on his children whom he asked to teach him of what they have learned at school during the day. Years later, all three of them went to earn their PhDs from a top university.
He knows that if his children really want him to understand what they have learned, they are forced to understand it themselves. And it worked.
Thus, students must learn like a teacher.
Balance your physical, mental and social health to achieve the last lever - renewal.
The twelfth lever—renewal—is essential in serving a superior purpose and living a much pleased and serene life.
This is where self-care comes in as you balancing your physical, mental, and social health.
Inspiring physical involves caring for your body’s welfare as if you already had a major setback. Imagine yourself walking out of a major surgery with a second life, would you not care for yourself more?
The enthusiasm to shatter health-damaging practices you are accustomed to must start within. Motivate yourself to turn away 360 degrees from health-impacting routines such smoking cigarettes, alcoholism, drugs, or even other habits that deteriorate your wellbeing.
Improving your mental health is possible through constant learning. See in your mind's eye that your skills are about to be out-won by technology. Prioritize erudition and advance your abilities.
Picture the people you care for or even those you recently acquainted being able to hear your criticism about them, regardless if they are present or not. Not that it should stop you from giving criticism—just opt for the kind and constructive ones. And always speak your criticism toward the right receiver. Otherwise, it might be concluded as gossips, which hurt social relationships.
Act as if these hypothetical scenarios could be your present situation and you are halfway through the renewal of your physical, mental, and social health.
Remember, these three aspects of your wellbeing are relatively connected. Thus, being able to care for these areas of your life would guarantee you a holistic renewal.
Think about this for a second—if you stop learning, you might become irrelevant at work. If you get fired, you could start hold other people responsible, which makes you hostile to others instead of caring for your social relationships. And this negativity often leads to stress, which can absolutely weaken your physical strength.
Avoid this pessimistic chain reaction through caring for not just one, but all three of these areas in your health.
Choose the path of a higher purpose and far greater sense of reward than that of self-serving gratification through money and status. Establish your primary greatness. Prioritize it over any material things secondary greatness can acquire. Make use of these 12 levers of success: integrity, contribution, priority, personal sacrifice, service, reciprocity, diversity, responsibility, loyalty, learning, teaching and renewal.
Start small. Create a memento to track your utilization of these levers through a journal. Put in writing your higher purpose and self-affirmations, and use this as an aide memoire. And note the things you have learned while you are at it. Jot down any slipup as you wrestle with the need to prioritize secondary greatness over primary. And keep in mind that you can still bounce back higher from all these slips if you just focus.