Success at any stage in life is alluring. And not easy to achieve. Recently, Joel Peterson, Chairman of JetBlue Airways, mused in LinkedIn about other authors’ writings on the subject of success. His thesis is that hard work, rather than short lists quickly read, is the key to achievement. “The very reason success is elusive is that it still requires a lot of hard and often tedious work. Not just daily work at the office, but the constant work of making ourselves into more effective, more adaptable, more thoughtful people. That’s what it means to build character. No secrets here. Just hours, days, months, and years of persistence in doing what matters most, honoring commitments, and working well with others.”
Peterson cites blogger Alex Banayan’s “The 5 Traits of Wildly Successful People” which lists “be persistent, ignore convention, be a problem-solver, cut back on sleep, build good relationships” in order to succeed. Alas, if only it were so easy. I have a serious problem with reducing sleep as it has been proven that our minds simply don’t function effectively without a full night of shut-eye, and for me it is the truth. Certainly, persistence, thinking outside of the box and problem solving are effective traits of people whom we admire. But there is more.
Peterson worked with author Steven Covey, whose best-selling business book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” has been emulated by authors listing their versions of his work. Instead of following these plans, I would agree that working on oneself is preferable. Covey quoted Aristotle on the subject: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act – but a habit.” So, working on ourselves, such that character is built and positive habits become part of our personality will naturally point us in the direction for which we strive. Then, perhaps the shortcuts will triumph.
Peterson sums it up with this: “Aristotle’s notion – the one Covey also espoused – is a profound one. Success in life is rooted in aligning our actions with our values, until our choices flow naturally, and without calculation, from our character. Like everything else worth doing, this is a matter of consistent, determined practice – as unromantic, familiar, and headline-unfriendly a secret as that may be.”