Four Primary Pillars of Success

Success and Happiness form the core significance of an individual’s life. The two are intertwined in a strange relationship. Happiness contributes to the success of an individual. A person who is happy has better chances of success as he/she enjoys better cognitive ability, positive attitude, lives in the present and concentrates on what they are doing at any particular moment. No wonder they do it better to bring about appreciable results. However, unbridled success when it wears the shoes of greed can demolish one’s happiness. Therefore it’s necessary that one should pursue one’s purpose and never be motivated with any kind of Greed.

Having said that I detail below the four primary Pillars of Success are as follows

1. Ambition

First pillar of success is Ambition. Unless one has a strong desire to succeed, it’s not only difficult but nearly impossible that anyone can achieve anything significant. Ambition drives you to find ways and means to forge ahead. Ambition when schooled will show you how and make you define your goals. You definitely need to know your destination before embarking on a tough journey of success.

First of all a very important action that everyone must take is to describe their Goals. What you want to do in life. It is a kind of destination for your journey of life. And if you don’t specify goals, it is like not having any specific destination in mind. This in any case will not lead you anywhere. Besides, you may start wondering at the futility of life itself. You will never develop focus. Productivity of a person without focus is very low. And so is the self-esteem.


Goals must be SMART. What does it mean? S stands for specific. So goals must be specific and clear. Instead of saying you want to be rich, you might say that you must acquire wealth equal to $ 10 million. Since the goals are to be achieved in a certain period of time, it is necessary that these should be measurable. It means that one must fix certain milestones which need to be covered during a slice of the entire period. For example, in one month what must be achieved needs to be defined.
Further the goals must be achievable. If the goals are such that despite applying any kind of effort a person will not reach the goal, it is not achievable. It is a flawed goal.


Next letter on the acronym is R. This stands for realistic. What is the difference between the realistic goals and achievable goals needs to be clearly understood. And without exception the goals must be realistic.
Lastly we come to the letter T stands for time bound. If the goals do not define timeline, these have an inherent flaw. In fact, the time line should be carefully crafted. Just as we study with stop watch, how much time the goal is likely to take. At the time of planning it must be kept in view that in order to improve our productivity and to remain enthusiastic about our efforts, we do need to stretch ourselves. If we don’t do that, productivity will come down.

Now that we have defined how goals need to be articulated, and goals need to worked out in various aspects of life.
Goals should to be written preferably in the following sequence for different aspects of life:
a. Health Goals
b. Career Goals
c. Financial Goals
d. Family Goals
e. Social Goals
f.  Hobby Goals
g. Spiritual Goals.

These are often interdependent. In any case these must be written down, and each of them must be SMART.

Just writing down is not enough. Daily in the morning go through them. It will renew your commitment to pursue these goals. Then, you must note down in your ‘to do list’ for the day, what specific actions need to be taken to forward the cause of each of the above goals. Then you must note down in your ‘to do list’ for the day what specific actions need to be taken to forward the cause of each of these goals. You may not be taking action in all these areas each and every day. Yet these must be contemplated.

2. Negotiation Skills

In life, everyone has to negotiate for something or the other all the time. Negotiation and ability to negotiate effectively form the basis of getting help from others to achieve your goals. It’s also essential for you to ensure to protect your rights in anything including your possessions. Thus an excellent skill to negotiate anything with anyone forms the second pillar of your success.

What is negotiation? How does it work? What is the need? I will try to answer all these and other related questions in a simple manner.
Whenever two or more parties sit together to resolve certain issues concerning them, negotiation come into play. Discussion could be about resolving some dispute, concluding a sale or even influencing some people or a group to get some ideas accepted.
Now, let’s see the possibility of success of negotiation. Success depends primarily on three aspects. These are:

  1. Issue should be negotiable. We can negotiate buying or selling a car, or a piece of land or house. But no negotiation is possible on for your example child, or for that matter any other object with which either party is emotionally attached.
  2. Second factor is the willingness of the parties to accommodate and compromise. Extremely rigid attitude cannot bring about any success is negotiation.
  3. Next, third factor for successful negotiation is that the parties must have some respect, some trust among them. This, acts like a bridge and negotiation can achieve some success. It can resolve some problems.

Having described the factors for success of negotiation, I should now talk about the basic ingredients. What are the requirements of negotiation? These are:

  1. Knowledge of human behaviour. Negotiating parties need to conversant with normal human behaviour. How do they react to the conflicting views?
  2. Secondly, the negotiators must prepare themselves for discussions. They must collect all the relevant information regarding the issues. Preparation is a must.
  3. Third requirement and lastly is that negotiators must understand the role of assumptions. We all harbour certain due to experience of life and society. The negotiators must reflect to clearly understand these assumptions. Undoubtedly, they play an important role during negotiation.

Then, we come to the next aspect of negotiation. The techniques which are:

  1. Strategy: the negotiating parties work out their strategy. It’s like an army general working out plan with his lieutenants. Each step is defined keeping in view the strategy of the opponents.
  2. Tactics: the negotiators must be adept in devising required tactics. Tactics are maneuvers, which the negotiators adopt during discussions. This is particularly important as at time the strategy may not work. Tactics require the negotiators to be adept, alert and creative in modifying the steps on the spot when needed.

Above all a good negotiator must be an excellent listener. They say, “Listen twice as much as you speak”. That speaks a lot about how important is.

What are listening skills? How you go about developing these? And what for? What is the difference between hearing and listening?
All these questions are simply answered with the definition of communication. We communicate to exchange ideas and views. We communicate to influence people, to negotiate deals. So, it’s necessary not just to hear but to listen, understand and assimilate information contained in the speech. Then only we can respond. But if we don’t listen but just hear, and if we are only anxious to say what we want to say, the objectives of communication is lost. Listening becomes very easy with some modification of our habits. These are:

  1. We must focus on the speaker. All other thoughts should not be allowed to tax the mind or to divert it. Normally as many as 50,000 thoughts come to mind each day. But with efforts, we can reduce their number. When we focus on the speaker we can surely assimilate the information the speaker is trying to convey.
  2. While listening in one on one conversation, we must not interrupt. Even when we don’t agree with what the speaker’s opinion is. We must be patient enabling them to complete their statements.
  3. Your objective of communication will be served better if you make the speaker comfortable. How do you do that? By nodding your head, other body language, gestures, or just say yes, please go ahead etc. The speaker must be sure that you are listening. Your listening makes the speaker comfortable.
  4. Look at the views of the speaker from their perspective. Try to examine to issue while wearing speaker’s shoes.
  5. You must practice patience. You must never try to complete speaker’s sentences even if you are confirming or appreciating their thoughts.
  6. All speakers may not be very articulate. They may have some speech blemishes. Faults like using filler words, inaccurate pronunciation, breathing at wrong place in a sentence etc. You must ignore these and focus on the idea the speaker is presenting.
  7. Survey reveals that 60% of the communication happens with the body language. So closely watch the body language of the speaker to understand speaker’s intent.
  8. Last but not the least, identify the idea by putting together the pieces of information the speaker has vocalised. All speakers are not experts in speaking skills. So help them. It also serves you.
  • Focus:

Focus is very important because it is like a gateway to all your thinking; perception, memory, learning, reasoning, problem solving and decision making. We can work efficiently in all these aspects only if we are focused. Without focus, we cannot resolve any of the problems that we might face while conducting ourselves from day to day. Focus also helps us to keep away from distractions which cause a lot of setbacks to our thinking and therefore our activities. If we cannot move according to our plan of action set for each of our goals, obviously we would be losing time and it will be difficult to achieve what we have decided. The following are some of the quotations by eminent thinkers and successful people.

1. Zig Ziglar – (on the importance of direction):

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

The key to living a focused life is direction. When you have a clear goal, you can steer all your actions in one direction. But if you are unsure where to go, you will mindlessly wander around. At the same time, it is often not so important how long we work, but how effectively we use our working hours. If we pay the closest attention to maintaining a high level of focus, we can use the available hours of the day more effectively. However, if we allow distractions to draw away our attention, we are less likely to accomplish much in the time available.

2. Paolo Coelho – (on knowing what you want):

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”

Whatever you do in life, make sure you have a clear goal. Otherwise, you might be wasting valuable time by spending your time in an undirected and unfocused manner. Knowing precisely what you want to achieve will help you to maintain a higher level of focus and motivation. It will also encourage you to do whatever it takes until your goal is accomplished. But if there’s no dream or vision that fuels all your actions, you are more likely to simply give up when the going gets tough.

3. Aristotle Onassis – (on focus in times of difficulty)

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

We all suffer and we all experience misery from time to time. During these challenging situations, it’s incredibly difficult to maintain a positive attitude. When confronted with pain and suffering, we often see nothing but the negative aspects of what’s happened to us. We struggle greatly and wish that it had never happened. Especially during our darkest hours, it’s incredibly difficult to see the light. It is therefore all the more important to trust in our ability that we will one day be able to draw important lessons from what happened. At the same time, it is important not to lose faith and to give up during these challenging times. Instead, it’s important that we use all the power we have left to endure the suffering.

4. Alexander Bell – (on focusing on the task at hand)

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

True greatness can only be accomplished when we are able to focus all our attention on what we’re doing at the moment. If we allow distractions to interrupt the workflow, it is likely that the output of our work will suffer from it. However, if you’re able to focus intensively on the work at hand, you’ll be able to unlock greater parts of your potential. Just as the sun’s rays ignite paper when focused, so will the results of your work improve dramatically if performed with the greatest level of concentration.

6. Bruce Lee – (on laser-like focus)

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”

According to Bruce Lee, mental focus can make the difference between being average and extraordinary. He highlights the tremendous benefits of being able to reach the highest level of focus and concentration. But he also points out that if we are able to perfect our concentration skills, we can be so much more than just average.

  • Perseverance:

Perseverance is the fourth but critical pillar for success. Life does not allow you to secure all things easily. Even when you are working hard to achieve something, there will be lots of difficulties and obstacles coming your way. Unless you are able to preserve it is likely that you will give up. It is said that the difference between failure and success is almost a hairline distance. Failure is almost achieving your goal but giving it up thinking that it is not possible for you. Whereas, perseverance enables you to continue and does not allow you to give up your efforts and that is how you achieve your success. There are many success stories of people who have made it big only because they could persevere in their efforts to achieve what they really believed in. Some of the examples are as under:

1. McDonald’s – Ray Croc

Ray Croc is another one of the coolest perseverance stories that show you can succeed at any time in your life.

The golden arches are also synonymous with one of the oldest, biggest, and most successful businesses in the world.

But without Ray Croc, Mcdonalds would have been a one location burger chain in San Bernardino.

Ray was a 50 plus-year-old struggling milkshake machine salesman who lived a comfortable life but craved more. He met the brothers behind McDonald’s and eventually convinced them of a franchise model to grow the brand. This led him to massive expansion, buying the land where all locations operate and grown into the Mcdonald’s we know today.

A quick synopsis of McDonald’s history (via Biz Insider):

  • Started in 19 as a one location burger chain
  • Burgers were originally 15 cents
  • They hire around 1 million workers in the US every year
  • Mcdonald’s $27 billion in revenue makes it the 90th-largest economy in the world

2. Alibaba – Jack Ma

Jack Ma is the richest man in Asia (worth about $39 Billion) and runs one of the largest company in China — Alibaba.

But he wasn’t a genius who instantly created this amazing company. He faced rejection for his whole life.

He applied for 30 different jobs (including the police and KFC) and was rejected. In addition, he applied and got denied 10 different times from Harvard.

But, after discovering the internet in the mid 90’s he understood the possibilities that existed. He went on to create several companies despite all the rejection he had previously faced.

3. WhatsApp – Jan Koum

Jan Koum is the founder of WhatsApp which sold to Facebook for 19 billion dollars. He grew up very poor in Ukraine and didn’t even have running water.

After finding his skills in Silicon Valley he was almost hired at Facebook but got passed over in the last interview. Instead of sulking, Jan went on to found WhatsApp. Jan is the epitome of hard work and never giving up.

4. Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison is the definition of perseverance. Considered unteachable at a young age the inventor went on to eventually create the electric light bulb. While most thought he “failed” he simply said he found over 1,000 ways to not build a light bulb.

Thus, we find that if we understand and devotedly work on all these four pillars to achieve whatever we want, the success is bound to come. There are so many stories of rags to riches. These men are only driven by their ambition and they substantiate and realize their ambition with the other three pillars of success that is – negotiation skills, focus and perseverance.

Thanks for reading.

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