The psychology of achievement: Do you have what it takes?

For more than two decades I’ve been approached by people who want to work for me and who want to involve me in their business plans. During this time I’ve noticed that the people I want to be involved with are not just ‘successful’ in the material sense, but they have what I call the 'psychology of achievement'. That is, the ones who I want to talk further with have a way of thinking, a way of being.

Have a look at some of these observations and think about how they can be applied to your own circumstances.

  1. Team builder: successful people think in terms of building teams of other achievement-oriented people, rather than trying to be the ‘lone genius’. This entails putting your ego on the backburner because you will always be trying to attract people who are smarter than you and who have a degree of their own mental autonomy. This means you have to have an eye to the medium-term goal, not the short-term ego-victory.

  2. Strategist: the people who achieve the most in life never let tactics overwhelm their strategy. An example is Sir Richard Branson, whose fight to create the Virgin Atlantic airline saw so many tactical twists and turns, against so many powerful enemies, that many people would have become demoralised. Branson is an embodiment of this motto: tactics serve the strategy, not the other way round.

  3. Principles: look at the people who seem able to cope with change and deal with set-backs. Invariably they rely on principles rather than following or imposing rules. Applying principles to ever-changing life is more efficient than setting rules and trying to shoe-horn the world into them. It’s also an effective way of managing your partners and smart employees.

  4. Learner: the high-achievers of this world have a universal response to a hole in their knowledge. They find someone who does know, they ask, and they listen. Or, they sign up for a course, do a degree, go listen to a speaker at a conference. One of the most important aspects of the psychology of achievement is to avoid being a know-it-all. No one knows it all.

  5. Networks: just as they build good teams in their organisations, achievement-oriented people develop broader peer networks from which they can glean experience and know-how. Two caveats: networks only work when you put in as much as you take out; and networks are never about name-dropping. They are mutual support-systems.

  6. Energy: this might be the most important component of a psychology of achievement. You have to give a damn. Life unfolds in the moment, not in a spreadsheet or a business plan or a bank statement, which are all just snapshots of some other moment. High achievers understand this sense of urgency which is why they seem to be on the go most of the time.

  7. Ideas: ideas change everything, because ideas are everything. Write them down, test them, train yourself to have more. Ideas are currency.

Mark Bouris
is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a financial services company offering home loans, financial planning, accounting and tax, and insurance.

You can contact Mark on Twitter.


      Mark Bouris

      Mark Bouris

      Mark Bouris is executive chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a financial services company offering home loans, financial planning, accounting and tax, and insurance.

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