A 7th century Arabian genius once said, “Success is the result of foresight and resolution, foresight depends upon deep thinking and planning, and the most important factor of planning is to keep your secrets to yourself”. The name of this genius was Ali Ibn Abi Thalib, one of the most illustrious, noblest and brilliant leaders of the continent-sweeping Islamic civilisation that was left behind by the Prophet Muhammad.
However, it is not the object of this article to discuss a religious figure or the history of a civilisation. The quote provided above is to set the impetus for the rest of this article.
“Success is the result of foresight and resolution, foresight depends upon deep thinking and planning, and the most important factor of planning is to keep your secrets to yourself”.
It is impossible and illogical by definition and reality to achieve any measure of success without any thought, planning or goal setting put into it. Any attainment that is borne out of randomness and chance is not to be regarded a success at all, just as a momentous lottery winning should not be called an achievement.
The achievement of a goal, by definition, requires that there be an element of conscious planning and subsequent effort put into it, because a goal is a purpose that any person, entity or enterprise is working consciously towards. No matter how vague or clear the goal is, some degree of planning, implementation, tracking and refinement is definitely involved.
If you are to observe the life stories of achievers either in your lifetime or in history, you would realise that the truth about their success can be attributed to a number of very common, universal, timeless and unchanging factors – or principles.
These undying principles are universally applicable to almost every area or field of endeavour, from industry to academia, from the ivory towers of the corporate world to the warmth, comfort and safety of a nursery. Changes and challenges that are developing in the world neither add to nor subtract from the validity of these principles, they only serve to create permutations and evolutions in the application of them and not the essence.
Now, what are these principles exactly? Here I shall be listing a few of my findings -
1. The greatest achievers are driven by a huge, humongous, all-consuming Vision either for their lives or for the world. They view the world as a perfect playing field to manifest and make concrete their visionary ideas and are often driven by this vision, whether or not they are consciously aware of it from moment to moment.
2. They set targets and objectives that are in alignment with this grand vision of theirs. They also have the discipline to reject and ignore so-called opportunities, developments, innovations and temptations that are not in alignment with their great vision, often creating enemies because of this. Nevertheless, those who stayed faithful to these achievers and their vision prove themselves worthy as true friends and partners in bringing about their visions to reality.
3. They seek out the best possible methods to accomplish what they seek, never settling for mediocrity or lackadaisical efforts. To these achievers, the terms ‘laziness’ or ‘hard work’ are concepts foreign to them. What they are driven by is their vision and the goals they must achieve in order to meet that vision. Whatever it takes to accomplish those targets of theirs, they will accept, and although they are humans too and can feel exhaustion, they do not view the necessary work as something to dread, but something to live with, even enjoy.
4. The great achievers are constantly learning. They learn from their mistakes, from other people’s mistakes, from their observations of the necessary goal-attaining processes in which they are engrossed.
5. They do not stop at simply learning, they also put their learnings into action, dynamically and consistently refining their methods in real-time. Sometimes the growth and improvements they obtain from their gradual evolutions borne out of their learnings can be very minimal, sometimes they may achieve tremendous improvement, even breakthrough.
But in their minds, they do not discriminate between small improvements and big improvements, neither obsessing over making huge improvements nor being content with only small improvements. All sizes and manners of growth are welcomed by them.
If all the goal setting secrets of the greatest achievers could be condensed into a handful of principles, the 5 listed above would suffice. Every other discussion of planning, thinking, programming, intending, organising, managing or controlling are simply corollaries of the above 5 principles.
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