Planning, organization, leadership, confidence, perseverance. These traits are typically seen as what you need to win, to be the best, to succeed. While I agree that these help, I don’t think that you need them to succeed. You only need one thing to succeed – that is initiative.
But my definition of success is a bit different than the dictionary. This isn’t to say that winning a competition is not succeeding, my meaning just covers more. You don’t need to be number one, but instead you need to have learned something along the way and made yourself a better person.
My definition of initiative is also a personal opinion, but can probably be agreed upon by many. Initiative means the will and desire to do something new, hard, or different, and to push on for it, even at great cost. Even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll have learned something that made you better so that you have a better chance of succeeding later.
Now this true example could fit both definitions. A boy in Detroit finishes high school, and he and one of his siblings are the only ones in their family to do so. Neither of them goes to college, and the boy becomes a late-shift store manager at a grocery store for many years. He gets married and has two children, a boy and a girl.
You may be a bit confused about the purpose of this story – that is because it’s not really about that man, but his son. That son eventually becomes one of the top in his class and gets accepted to Stanford University; this school year is his freshman year. The son succeeded and defied where family tradition led.
This son and his family are very close to mine because his father grew up with my father. After meeting them and hearing about this achievement, I knew that only one thing could have the main force behind this. Initiative was that force.
Now he does have other traits that helped, and is a great guy, but that initiative, in my opinion, meant success. But what about the other traits I mentioned earlier? They help, but they do not always mean success.
Everyone plans – even procrastinators plan, they just plan for the next day, over and over again.
Organization gathers what you need, but then what? Do you do anything else, or be content that your life looks nice to others?
Leaders lead others, but what are they leading towards? Are they actually getting there in a reasonable and timely fashion?
Confident people are sure of themselves, but are they only confident where they are? Can they “change their places” and still be confident enough to continue? Or is it just ego?
Perseverance is fine, but when something takes five times longer than it should, it is no longer perseverance – it becomes lack of interest mixed with inefficiency.
All of these traits have good parts, but they all need initiative to work. So they do not really mean success, because they need another piece, so to speak. I believe that piece is initiative, and it means success to me.