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The Foundation of Success

by Paul Pluim

The Foundation of Success

Stop chasing information

Before I take you through this blog, I want you to understand one thing. No, I want you to feel it. Take it. And if you really grasp it, it will give you an invaluable insight, applicable for the rest of your life. What you will understand after reading this blog is that success does not depend solely on the knowledge you gain from that personal effectiveness course, your master’s degree or the outcome of that personal leadership course (which you really thought was going to change your life). Whether it is achieving a business goal (such as more customers or higher sales) or a personal goal (such as more peace or free time), there is one thing that counts as the foundation for success.

What do successful people have in common? Precisely, an inner attitude that ensures that they can handle and pick up anything that comes their way. It is this inner attitude that ensures that knowledge is converted into action. It is not about the soft or hard skills that you teach yourself. After all, it is not ‘the information’ that changes your behaviour and puts you on the path to success. It is about the foundation, your inner attitude, to which these skills are then ‘glued’, as it were. Because if the foundation – the position from which you act – is not solid enough, all that baking knowledge you have appropriated will be of no use to you.

As an example, we look at two entrepreneurs who have followed a leadership course. It is not a guarantee that both entrepreneurs automatically create success as a result of the content of this training: the success achieved as a result of the training depends on the entrepreneurs themselves. One entrepreneur has decisiveness and proactive action as a foundation; the other entrepreneur comes from doubt and chaos. The result of the training? The training is the same, the result a world of difference. A world of success and a world of failure.

The foundation

The decisive factor for success is the inner attitude from which you come. It is this attitude that fundamentally determines who you are. This attitude determines how others look at you, how you live and how you function. You can describe it as the mental attitude you have created for yourself in the face of the challenges that lie ahead. How do you deal with setbacks, how do you make decisions and how far do you keep your promises. Note: I will never tell you that a certain attitude is wrong. What I can do is conclude that an attitude is simply not workable in relation to the result you are striving for. It is up to you to draw a conclusion from that.

Contrary to what many people think, an inner attitude is not fixed in your DNA. You did not inherit this attitude from your father or mother, nor were you born with it. It is the opposite: it is the attitude you have created yourself. Unconsciously, you are the creator of your own inner attitude, which has brought you to where you are today. It is who you are at the core, what makes certain actions bring results or not. It is important that you understand that you can change your inner attitude at any time, regardless of the circumstances. It starts with recognising the position you are in, deciding to change and then following this up with action.

It’s not so much where you want to go, but who you are that counts

When I work with clients, the position from which these clients come is the starting point. This position then determines the likelihood of success with regard to the pre-set goals. When you get stuck in life – whether in business or personally – it is necessary to go back to basics. Who are you when you get stuck?

A real-life example. A client came to me with a goal: increasing turnover. Of course, this is a very broad goal, but it came down to getting more customers for his business. I asked him what he had done so far to get the desired result. He proudly told me that he had followed a 10-day training course from a sales guru in Spain. He also invested time in the necessary webinars that all promised to generate extra turnover in no time. But why was it not successful? Why did the desired result not materialise? Didn’t he have the knowledge and the means?

This client knew exactly what he wanted: more sales. He could even think of ways to do it. What he forgot was to look at where he came from and who he was. From what position did he come, how did he actually function in life? Did that match the person he was supposed to be? Identifying this point is the most important part of growing to success. It is not where you want to go, but the position you came from that determines the degree of success.

After a walk through a proverbial house of mirrors, my client saw things about himself that he had not seen before. The conclusion was that he acted reluctantly. A continuous urge for new sales strategies also played a role: there was simply no structure and focus. He acted from a reserved, unstructured position. And the information that kept spinning in his head was not converted into action, so he was even more distracted. He ran in circles.

Trapped in an attitude

There are people who are so stuck in a certain attitude that they really think they are the attitude. Statements such as: ‘this is what I inherited from my father’, ‘it runs in the family’, or ‘this is just how I am’, are statements that I hear so incredibly often. When you really believe that an unworkable attitude is part of who you really are, it works against you mercilessly. It locks you in and there is no room for possibilities and opportunities.

But how?

Now that it is clear that your inner attitude is crucial for achieving results, the big ‘how’ question probably comes – as I know from experience – ‘How? How should I change my attitude?

Now I myself have developed an aversion to the word ‘how’ – because it distracts from the core – but I find the question understandable. My answer is: don’t think about how you should do something, but who you should be. Ultimately, it is about shifting from your current state of being to the person you need to be. So that you then do what you need to do, to get the result you want.

It starts with looking honestly. We sometimes pretend to be better than we are, not only to others, but also to ourselves. So if you didn’t hit your targets for last week on Friday afternoon, that’s not your fault. No, it was a lack of time, you tell yourself. It is here that you have to learn to look at yourself with radical honesty. And yes, it feels confrontational and uncomfortable. But that is what growing feels like. And the growing pains you feel are nothing compared to the freedom you experience when you live a powerful attitude. A powerful inner attitude opens doors and lets you see the world from a different perspective. It makes not only you, but also your environment stronger.

To make this process manageable, I ask someone ‘future questions’. What will your life be like if you achieve everything you want to achieve? And who is this person in the future that you are not yet? What does this person do, how is he in life and how would others describe him, compared to the person you are now? Who would you be without your past, free of thoughts and judgements? When someone has this image clear, there is room for growth.

Not how, but who

What I am making clear is that information – that is, how to do something – does not give us power. Who we are at the core, however, does. No endless strategies, trainings and seminars, but simply a workable attitude from which you can take the actions you need to take to get where you want to be. Besides: practice often shows that deep inside people know what they do and how they do it, and collecting extra information proves to be superfluous.

Now this sounds easy, but know that it takes time to actually transform into a powerful attitude. It starts with creating awareness around your inner attitude. You have to see and experience it for yourself. You simply cannot change something that you do not see from yourself. In addition, a clear commitment and a good dose of integrity are crucial.

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