This article was originally published on March 25, 2010, and updated on June 3, 2020.
Is there a formula for success? According to Stuart Levine, there are fundamental elements to attaining success. In his book The Six Fundamentals of Success: The Rules for Getting It Right for Yourself and Your Organization he explains that mastering these fundamentals will show you that success is something that you can achieve.
The concepts he raised are nothing new, but the author masterfully presented them cohesively and in an easy-to-digest format. It is one of those books that may not look appealing or snazzy at first glance, but you’d find yourself unable to put down once you start reading it.
The book is geared towards the corporate setting. However, the rules Levine outlines are also applicable to self-employed professionals and entrepreneurs. According to the author, the six fundamentals of success are:
1. Make sure you add value.
According to Levine, you need to ensure that part of your daily work contributes to your business strategy. This is best achieved by knowing how your business creates value for the customer and focusing on those elements that are important to adding value. You can increase value to your business in four ways: help it sell more, cut costs, get higher prices, and improve quality for the customer. Other ways you can add value are:
- Understand how your company spends and make money
- Care passionately about customers
- Continuously improve your skills so you can keep finding new ways to add value
- Come up and test new ideas.
2. Communicate up and down, inside and out.
Communication strengthens relationships, improves products, and motivates employees. Communication is two ways: listening and knowing how you’re impacting others. The author suggests ways you can become a better communicator:
- Establish a rhythm – any group that needs to work together needs to work together seamlessly
- If it’s important and the stakes are high, say it twice. Follow up on a conversation with a note. Leave a voicemail or email. Make sure they got the message and ask for a reply to confirm they did.
- Listen actively and stay open to other viewpoints
- Pick your battles but face up to difficult conversations
- Learn how to say thank you
- Excel at giving feedback
- Respond to calls and emails within 24 hours.
3. Know how to deliver results.
Getting results is all about knowing what you need to achieve and doing it in the most effective way possible:
- Get disciplined about planning
- Learn to distill data and take actionable results from the information
- Provide clear expectations of the tasks at the beginning
- Don’t be afraid to be realistic: if the project seems not feasible given the constraints you face, adjust your plans accordingly
- Go for the buy-in: get inputs from key constituents
- Deliver on your promises and follow-through: a lot of credibilities is lost between what you say and what you do
4. Conduct yourself and your business with integrity.
Nothing strengthens your brand more effectively than acting consistently and with integrity:
- A trusted brand gets you the credibility and the staying power amidst the tight competition in the marketplace. It will bring you more business. Your brand is your most powerful asset – protect it firmly.
- A leader’s brand must stand for integrity; its actions must consistently build confidence in its brand.
- Set standards that reflect your value and live up to them.
- Act with self-confidence. Treat others with respect. Surround yourself with ethical people. Set a good example. Always act ethically, and invest in relationships
5. Invest in relationships.
Strong relationships are the foundations of business. The return in investment when investing in relationships can result in a business advantage or just good feeling.
- Adopt a relationship strategy
- Set up a relationship radar screen, which lets you know where others stand in relation to you.
- Give generously. Look for ways to help the other person. Do special things that people will remember
- Never underestimate the importance of face time
- Satisfied employees create loyal customers who in turn become apostles for your business.
6. Gain perspective.
Gaining perspective is hard in a results-driven environment. It’s easy to become so driven by emptying your inbox that you stop taking the time to determine what really matters in life.
- Find a way to gain a more valid perspective to be able to see your actions, behavior, thought to affect your outlook, your personal relationships, and personal life
- Know what you want: write down your goals and a course of action to achieve them
- Setbacks make you stronger
- Avoid arrogance – nobody does it alone
- Admit your limitations
- Know when to take a deep breath
- Get comfortable with not knowing