When it comes to what determines success, many
would put their money a high intelligence
quotient. There’s no doubt IQ plays a role in
academic achievement, but acceptance into an Ivy
League school far from guarantees professional
CEOs who’ve recruited the brightest graduates
become puzzled at the bell curve of
performance—after all, shouldn’t all geniuses
perform at an elite level?
Not surprisingly, researchers have found that IQ
plays a far less significant role in success. It’s
these three qualities, under the radar and often
overlooked, that make all the difference when it
comes to success.
1. Self regulation.
We’re often the biggest stumbling blocks to our
own success. The ability to manage your behaviors
consistently reflects your values and goals.
The famous Stanford “Marshmallow” study placed treats
in front of children and told them they could eat
it now, or wait and be rewarded with a double
amount. After tracing the lives of the children
into adulthood, they found those who resisted
performed better academically, earned higher
salaries and were less prone to obesity.
Self-regulation is like a muscle. It can be
depleted, but it can also be exercised and
strengthened. Practice saying “no” to yourself by
refusing the desire to get on social media, eating
all the food on your plate but not seconds or
waking up ten minutes earlier in the morning.
Make daily practices of doing something difficult,
and just like the children with the marshmallows,
habits in one area of life are contagious.
Empathy is the ability to put yourself on exactly
the same page with your customer or whoever you’re
When different views cause conflict, empathy
allows for integration and reducing tension. It’s
the difference between “I think you’re wrong” and
“I understand where you’re coming from.” The
former is likely to put the person on the
defensive, while the latter invites a more
constructive and open-ended engagement that
creates rapport, the magic ingredient in sales.
No one lacks the potential for greater empathy.
The discovery of “mirror neurons” showed the
biological ability we all possess to empathize.
Watch someone face-plant and you’ll recoil and
“feel” their pain.
Emotional awareness is key. Begin to observe your
feelings, label them as they arise, describe your
experience as if you’re interviewing yourself. As
you master and become more familiar with your
inner-self, you’ll start to better perceive and
intuit what someone else is going through.
Most importantly, empathy shows that you care.
Keep the words of Teddy Roosevelt in mind, “People
don’t care how much you know until they know how
much you care.”
Psychologist Angela Duckworth studied successful
individuals at West Point Military Academy, the
National Spelling Bee, rookie teachers in tough
neighborhoods and salespeople in private
companies. She noted the common factor wasn’t
social intelligence, good looks, physical health
and or I.Q. It was grit.
While self-regulation deals with temptations, grit
is resilience when faced with adversity either
physically and psychologically. It’s a trait
synonymous with the “Growth Mindset.”
When wrestling with a problem, a fixed mindset
says we’re failing and not cut-out for the job. A
growth mindset believes we’re getting closer to
the solution and gaining mastery. Professor Carol
Dweck’s research shows that the brain develops new
neural pathways if it preservers through a problem
rather than throwing in the towel.
The culprit is a psychological highjacking
conditioned by the popular notion that talent is
inherent and immutable, rather than malleable.
Adopting a growth mindset is more than positive
thinking. The cognitive shift reduces the body’s
stress response. A less stressed person will
process adversity more efficiently, and be able to
iterate instead of hitting a brick wall.
Cultivating grit takes patience and consistency.
But it can be developed from simple daily
exercises such as learning to juggle, or taking a
cold shower. It’s all about applying the compound
effect in finance to all areas of life.
To your success