The Success Triangle – Skills, Effort and Attitude

Today a client asked me, “how can you run a law practice and an SEO business, teach at your martial arts dojo, consult for businesses, write for several blogs, and still get any sleep?” My answer? I don’t get any sleep!

But seriously, doing that many things without a coherent system would be exhausting. Trying to do that many things well without organizing principles would be insane. So what I want to share with you today is the common vision that helps organize my approach to business. Hopefully you’ll find that this idea helps you carry out your personal mission or missions more effectively.

The vision is this – to be successful at just about anything, you have to have all three corners of what I call the “Triangle of Success” – skills, effort, and attitude. If you’re missing any one of these, it can be a lot harder to reach your goals.

Skills are the special products or services that you offer the world. If you’re a doctor – a spine surgeon for example – your skills are the abilities to diagnose and surgically treat problems with the spine. In my SEO business, my skills include the ability to diagnose websites, blogs, and social media for their effectiveness, and to recommend or take actions to make them more effective.

Effort is how hard you try to when you provide your skill to other people. Over the years, I’ve learned to be really good at looking at businesses and finding the things that are holding them back, but if I never tell anybody I can do it, I’m not making much effort. If I were to just look at a few aspects of a business that hired me and mumble some suggestions, I’d be making more effort, but nowhere near enough to be great at it.

Attitude is your belief that you can succeed and how well you can instill that belief in others. Being able to get a class of martial artists energized and sweating is not too hard. On the other hand, it takes strong conviction to convince groups of people, day in and day out, that what they are sweating for will truly change their lives for the better.

I believe three things are true about the Triangle of Success: (1) each corner is connected to the other two; (2) an equilateral triangle is the best recipe for success; and (3) taking a “learning” approach to building your triangle will really help you succeed!

When I say that each corner is connected to the other two, I mean it’s almost impossible to maintain or improve one aspect of success without employing the other two. Your skills will only improve if you make an effort to improve them, and you’ll have a lot more energy to make that effort if you believe success is both possible and desirable. Your efforts to bring your product or service to other people will be a lot more effective if your skills are obviously good and if your positive attitude shows. Your attitude will be better if you feel good about your skills and your efforts yield results.

When I say that an equilateral triangle is best, I mean your best results will come when you give similar amounts of attention to all three corners. A highly skilled salesman who is lazy and negative will never prosper. A tireless carpenter who can’t make a square joint and who swears at his customers won’t build many houses. The most positive motivational speaker in the world who goes mute in front of a crowd and doesn’t learn to control her stage fright is unlikely to reach many people. On the other hand, a slightly skilled person who gives 100% effort and has a great attitude will usually become very successful.

And finally, when I say that taking a learning approach will get you far, I’m talking about using each corner of the triangle to help improve the other corners. When you make the effort to provide the best possible service (business analysis, for example), it will become obvious when you’re lacking a skill that you need to get the job done. Use the information to go out and improve your skills, or hire someone who knows how to do the thing you don’t. Ask yourself if you have any beliefs that could hinder your ability to build business relationships, and if you do, find a way to discard them and your efforts will be far more efficient. Keep your mind open to learning and positive change, and your triangle will grow in height, width, and weight.

Now remember, don’t just go out and do something, DO SOMETHING!

About Nicklaus

Nick has studied the martial arts and philosophies of Asia for 44 years, and has used their principles to start five successful businesses, including SEO Ann Arbor. He's an attorney, entrepreneur, consultant, and author of four books on martial arts, including Budo Mind and Body, which was featured in Black Belt Magazine. He advises a wide variety of businesses and individuals on marketing, motivation, mastery, success, and kicking your ass into gear.