Four Keys to Personal Success

Whether you are working in a company or for yourself, over my career I have learned there are four things within your direct control that can help you be successful. I thought I would share them with you.


Leadership of others is mandatory for you to achieve full potential. Rarely, if ever, is somebody successful alone. It takes a great many people to help you achieve your goals. The most effective leadership model I have been exposed to is the 5-E Leadership approach. Master this and you will achieve more than you ever believed possible. The only challenge is that mastery is not easy.

Here is the process –

Envision – Be able to articulate what you want to achieve in a way that others will understand and be able to act upon.

Energize – Get people excited about the benefits of achieving your vision. Make it personal for them by providing a compelling answer to the question each will have in their minds: “What’s in it for me?”

Enroll – Gain people’s commitment to helping you achieve your goal. Be specific in explaining what help looks like and ensure the commitment is real not false.

Enable – Secure required resources and remove obstacles to success so the people working on your behalf can concentrate on delivering results.

Execute – Be certain the work is well coordinated and the team is in a position to deliver within budget and on time. Implement appropriate measurement, feedback and supportive systems/processes so people know how their work contributes to the whole and can better understand overall progress.

I have found that the steps are best completed in sequence. Inevitably, when I have been asked to coach teams that are having difficulties I can identify one or more steps that have not been properly addressed by the project leader. Too often I find a tendency to go from Envision straight to Execute. In my experience, this is always a recipe for disaster.

Principle Based Behavior

You should always be able to articulate the driving principles behind the big decisions you make in your life. Big decisions are worth the time to think through. Everybody has their own set of principles, but you need to be transparent in their application. One of the better resources I have found on the subject is Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful people book. I often feel if people would simply take the time to reflect on why what they are about to do makes sense, more poor decisions could be avoided. Purposeful, principle based decision making doesn’t mean you will always be right. But, in my experience it dramatically reduces the odds of being wrong. And, when you are wrong people will at least understand why you made the decision you did.

Effective Business Communication

Not that the other two keys are easy, but this is one most people find exceptionally difficult to master. Communication can be either written or oral, but it needs to be effective in order for you to succeed.

The best approach I have been exposed to that can help improve communication is the CAR model.

C (Context) – At the start of the communication, always provide a relevant context so the person you are writing to or speaking with can get on the same page as you. If you do not provide context, it may take a few moments before the person has a clue what you are trying to communicate. Remember, your communication is interrupting their day and you need to capture their attention quickly if you want them to understand what you are trying to communicate. Think of all the conversations you had when either you, or the person you are speaking to, say “Oh yeah, now I know what you are talking about.” That is a conversation that did not begin with establishing a proper context.

A (Action) – Explain what you did, would like to do, or would like them to do. Every communication should move the peanut forward to help achieve your goal in some way.

R (Result) – Share the outcome or expected outcome from the action you described. In a business setting, try to lean into data to describe the results more than opinion.

You will find this model helps you keep your communication brief and on point. Use it as an outline for your next email and see if it doesn’t help make the copy stronger, more easily readable and more impactful.


You should be able to explain what you have learned from the big things you have done. I generally believe that nothing is done perfectly the first time. So something can be learned from the experience. Take the time to think about what you learned and be brave enough to share your learning with others. Note, some of the best learning happens when something fails. Talk about your failures and not just your successes.

When I was working at P&G, we often wrote key learning documents as a way to debrief management and memorialize our learning for the next person who had to manage the task. We were very conscious of the responsibility to help ensure our mistakes were not repeated.


I hope the four keys are helpful to you. Your personal brand will be strengthened if you master them. In addition you will achieve more than you may have ever thought possible.

I am confident you have additional keys that would be worth sharing. What have you found to be a success driver? Please take a moment to share so we can all benefit and become better leaders in the process.

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