I flew to Austin, Texas recently, after talking to 100 doctors here in town, to speak to 300 bankers and software experts about success in changing times. On the four planes to get there and back, I read the amazing new book, Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight, about the founding of Nike, the great shoe and sports apparel company. Phil experienced more troubles, difficulties, bad surprises, terrible developments and unexpected shocks along the way than I've ever heard about in any business or work story. I told my wife that in every chapter it's almost like being chased by a rabid dog and escaping at the last second only to be hit by a car, having the EMTs come to get you and, on your way to the hospital, the ambulance gets swept away into a raging stream. When you finally get airlifted out of the river and make it to the ER, the building catches on fire around you. That would almost be one of Knight's good days in trying to start his company. And yet he kept plugging away. And he intuitively used a lot of ancient wisdom in his quest.
In case you don't know my 7 Cs of Success, or do and yet would benefit from having them in front of you for a moment, here they are.
In any challenge, with any worthy goal, we need:
C1: A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a goal vividly imagined
C2: A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain the goal
C3: A focused CONCENTRATION on what it will take to get there
C4: A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision
C5: An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we're doing
C6: A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course
C7: A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.
You can see all 7 Cs of Success at play in Phil Knight's heroic responses to awful situations, again and again. For years, he made almost no money and it constantly looked like his fledgling enterprise would go under and he'd lose his home and everything he'd worked for. Then, after fighting more battles than you can imagine, he was able to take the company public. By the end of the book, he was able to change sports in America and even our overall culture in many ways. Plus, he winds up with a personal financial worth of over 10 billion dollars—a result he hadn't even sought.
Well, we don't all get that pay-day, for sure, but Phil gives us an amazing example of how to persist and perform, day-to-day, even when things are so challenging that others can't imagine how we continue. It has to come from a strong belief and conviction that we're doing something vital and important, something meaningful that makes a difference. When your talents are matched up with a great quest, incredible things can happen. So be of good cheer, and keep hope alive, as you use the wisdom of the ages to power yourself forward!