Up to now, as a survey of your list will show, your achievements arrived at unplanned intervals. That is not to be wondered at. Without clear objectives in mind, and with no chart to be used for reference, the results may seem to add up to little for one very good reason; they were never added up. Nevertheless, certain values are there, undiminished by weeks, months or years. Now to chart them and add them up so future achievements will arrive with regularity, and become habits.
Out of your list, pick the ten that mean the most to you, your ten greatest. Now from your new list of ten, pick your greatest achievement and mark it Number One. Do the same with the remaining nine, numbering them in order of their importance to you. Take your time. Many years of greater success rest on the few hours you spend discovering yourself now.
An achievement is a composite of many things- talent, aptitude, attitude, and even instinct-as in the case of a client who leaped into an ice-choked river to save a child without even considering the fact that he couldn't swim. So now we must analyze your achievements in terms of their parts. Start with Number One and describe it. Write down as many details as you can easily recall. You probably will not have to strain your memory for this.
Here is an example from my files as it was written by a man who is now a top executive: "When I was hired as a Time Study Engineer, the plant was getting an average production of 400 units weekly with a work force of 10 supervisors and 80 bench workers. By means of meetings, organizational work, gaining recognition for the supervisors, etc., I was recognized by the supervisors as their superior-while not yet promoted to that capacity. Within two months management promoted me to Plant and Production Manager, telling me they had no alternative since I was doing the work anyway. I was 28 at the time, and the youngest man in the plant by far. Six months later, using the same facilities and work force, we were producing 850 units weekly. The product was also of higher quality, and morale throughout the plant was much improved. The result was accomplished by reorganizing existing departments, by obtaining teamwork, by installing production incentives, and mostly by making supervisors feel they were important components of the management team."
We will return for a detailed analysis of what he, at the time, considered to be his greatest achievements. In the meantime, with that example before you, describe in about the same detail each of your ten achievements.
Use a separate page of your notebook for each. Some may have arrived as the result of thorough planning; others, like boating a giant marlin, may have been a combination of acquired skill plus the luck of having the big fish come along. And some might have found you rising to meet a challenge that seemed to arrive purely by chance. Give to each the special attention it deserves, regardless of how unlike the others it might seem.
As you are now about to discover, dissimilar though your achievements may be, in them are to be found certain factors that crop up often enough to form a pattern.
We start with your greatest achievement, proceeding down Column One and consulting the list of factors at the left. What factors appear most sharply in your achievement? Did it involve analysis of a problem? Artistic talent? Ownership, words, figures, memory, showmanship, systems-procedures? The list of factors is not meant to be limiting, so add some more of your own if they seem to have a more direct application. Place a check in Column One next to those factors that apply most directly to your achievement. If, for instance, your achievement was the creation of an effective display advertisement, you could check such factors as creative, design-art, ideas, showmanship, words, writing, and perhaps others. If it was a record-breaking ski-jump, you could check energetic, observant-attention, outdoors-travel, persevering, and showmanship.
In that previously mentioned case of the time-study engineer, he checked the following success factors: things, people (getting along with others), leader, production-controls, organizer, human relations (getting many people to get along with each other), figures (incentive pay), systems-procedures, problem solving, words (meetings), and then added as an extra factor, teamwork.
His had been a production job, a "things" job facilitated by his ability to get along with people. In his analysis of the success factors involved, he had been quite justified in adding teamwork as an important factor. You will notice also that he combined two factors on the list, controls and production, to describe production controls as applied to his job more accurately. At the same time he omitted to check quality and drive, two factors that were certainly important to his achievement.
You, too, will probably be omitting factors in your first efforts to analyze your achievements, just as I hope you will be able to add factors not on the list. Continue by checking in the second column the factors that figure prominently in your second greatest achievement. Don't rush yourself. In sounding this warning I am reminded of a lady client who admitted, "When I saw my success pattern forming before my eyes, I got so excited about finding out who I was that in my rush to finish I guess I ^checked out the wrong person."
You will find the same thrill in seeing the same success factors appear in one achievement after another, but this can lead to a pitfall I described earlier as "statistical hypnosis." Having seen a factor like imagination checked in five achievements, you begin to look for it in achievement No. Six, and could have just enough imagination to find it there even though the dominant factors are budgets, controls, and figures. What you must try to maintain throughout the analysis of each achievement is a scientifically detached attitude. For example, imagination certainly could be important to your success. Without it you would not be able to imagine yourself being more successful than you are now, and so would have no incentive to move. But is it a dominant factor, as it has to be in conjunction with such success factors as creative, ideas, design-art, inventive, and their like, or is it only a minor contribution, as in such other factors as figures, memory, and their like?
In all fairness to yourself, check only those factors that are of outstanding importance to the achievement concerned.
Your ten achievements have now been analyzed in terms of 52 success factors or more. Add up the check marks for each success factor and write down the score in the column marked, "Total." Of the 52, some eight or more will register high scores. Within this group of high-scoring factors-four check marks or more-will be found your Success Pattern.
We use the term Success Pattern to define the area in which your success factors are most heavily concentrated. Its value lies in narrowing the search for the ultimate in your success. Now we can concentrate on those factors that have produced your greatest achievements and enjoyment in the past, with the assurance that they can be made to do so in the future.
Study now the factors that fall within your Success Pattern, paying special attention to those that have been checked six times or more, or might even have been so dominant as to appear in all ten achievements. As of now the various success factors have been checked only because they applied to a certain achievement, with no effort made to put a higher value on one factor over another. To use our time-study engineer as an example again, he checked 11 factors on the list provided, overlooked two, and added one of his own-teamwork. The check marks gave no indication of the values of the factors, his ability as leader and his ability with figures being checked with the same kind of X.
As the next step I asked him, as I ask you, to go over the success factors and achievements again, this time giving a double check mark to those that were of vital importance to the achievement. He had checked among his factors leader, people, and human relations. Was he a dominant leader, using his lesser abilities in dealing with people and in human relations to support his position, or was he dominantly a gregarious person who found himself in the position of leader because he could get along well with others? It may seem like a small distinction, but it is not. As an amiable person able to work pleasantly with people, he could have made a good boss without raising production or improving the quality of the product an iota. But as a leader, double check mark, he was able to use his other factors of people, human relations and organizer, single check mark, to more than double production, improve quality of product and increase morale.
I might point out that he did not casually put a double check after leader. Always before he had thought of himself as a time-study man, a production man, a pusher. The fact that time-study men seeking to improve the efficiency of labor were not generally loved by workingmen may have, accounted for part of his attitude. He had thought he had been able to push through his ideas because of his congenial way of getting along with people. That he was not pushing, but leading had not occurred to him until it was inescapably brought out in an unbiased analysis of his success factors. Since then, recognizing that dominant success factor, he has risen, as already mentioned, to a top executive post with his company.
I want you to use the same unbiased detachment in placing double-checks after those factors that contributed most to each of your achievements. The values of some you may already know. The values of others will require closer study. Some, like discovering that the old and loved portrait of Grandpa on the wall is a genuine Whistler, may come as a complete surprise.
Now then, you have carefully analyzed your success factors and placed double checks after the few that are most important. These we call your Career Directional or Dynamic Success Factors. Unlike the strong factors that determine your Success Pattern, these point to the field in which your opportunities are greatest. But just for the sake of arousing your curiosity, how many of your Dynamic Success Factors are being used in your present occupation? And how much time are you devoting to chores that fall not only outside your Dynamic Success Factors but outside your Success Pattern? Before telling you how to integrate your success factors, suppose you spend another hour or so studying once again the chart you have prepared. Believe me; the time will be well spent. It is yourself and your successful future that are to be found there.