The Keys to Success
The Apprentice Magazine (UK), by Esther Middleton
Top business people who’ve done The Landmark Forum reveal what they learned that they wish they’d known a long time ago
Ever wonder why some people seem to rise to the top with relative ease, while others work hard but never achieve more than predictable, incremental progress? Odds are the difference isn’t that they’re inherently smarter or more talented or even that they got all the lucky breaks.
The fact is, the keys to success are available to anyone, says Randy McNamara, Vice President and senior programme leader for Landmark Education, an international training and development company that specializes in individual and organisational effectiveness.
“The biggest difference between those who merely dream and those who succeed in realizing their dreams is the ability to think and act in new ways,” McNamara explains. “We get entrenched in ways of thinking and being without realizing it. When we challenge our existing perspectives and decision-making patterns, we are able to access new levels of creativity and effectiveness that translate into breakthrough business results.”
Several extraordinary people credited The Landmark Forum, a three-day accelerated learning programme, as being instrumental in taking their business performance to the next level. We asked them to share the keys to their success:
1. Take risks.
If you’re considering making a bold move that could really pay off, don’t let a lack of confidence be the deciding factor. “Many of us look at successful people and assume that they’re not afraid,” notes McNamara. “The fact is, successful people are sometimes afraid -- the difference is, they don’t let that fear stop them, and they act anyway.”
Case in point: When Londoner Maurice van Sabben, 38, first noticed that National Geographic Television International was looking to fill the position of President, he felt both excitement and trepidation. “I knew they could get anyone for that role, but I was going to go for it anyway. Then I started questioning whether I was ready for the position,” admits van Sabben. “But I was able to put that aside and simply focus on my commitment, my strengths, and the possibility in front of me. I went for it, and I got the job.
“One of the critical things I got from participating with Landmark was the ability to go beyond my fear,” adds van Sabben, who as his company’s President now oversees its sales and production worldwide. “Fear still comes up from time to time, of course, but I continue to expand and take on greater and greater risks. It doesn’t mean I never fail, because I do. But then I go on and do the next thing.”
2. Tell it straight.
The last thing anybody wants to do is deliver bad news – announcing that a project is going to come in late, for instance, or over budget – especially when we think it’ll make us look bad. But when we develop a reputation for saying it like it is – for saying what’s going to get done and what’s not, and being responsible for keeping things moving – that ultimately engenders trust and respect, says McNamara.
“There’s no question that integrity – telling the truth, being responsible, paying attention to the details – has been what’s allowed me to build a very successful business,” says David Mack, 38, President of Room Corporation, a creative consulting boutique that has among its clients Prada, Armani, Valentino, Lee Jeans, Lindt Chocolates and many other top-shelf names. Mack says he started his business one month after he participated in The Landmark Forum.
At one point, Mack says, he realized his company was not meeting expected projections and he was unable to make his payments to the bank. “I walked over to my bank and, rather than paint some rosy picture of what was happening, I simply told the bank manager the facts,” Mack says. “The manager nearly fell off his chair, as it was so unusual for someone to do that.” The bank agreed on new terms, Mack’s company flourished, and both Mack and the bank’s executives were pleased with the outcome. Recalls Mack: “The bank manager stopped me in the street one day and let me know he wished his other clients were like me. I myself now have many clients who are loyal customers because they trust us. They know we’ll deliver what we say, and when there’s a problem, they can count on us to be straight about it.”
3. Encourage and acknowledge the contributions of others.
In the competitive environment of the workplace, it’s easy to get into the habit of discouraging and downplaying the contributions of others in order to keep the spotlight on one’s self. But the real movers and shakers are people who naturally inspire and bring out the best in others and acknowledge them for their contribution. Around people like that, McNamara explains, the entire team performs at a higher level.
“When I did The Landmark Forum, I realized I was someone who thought I could do it all myself,” says Julia Dee, 48, whose companies Designer Alterations and Total Wardrobe Care boast the names of royalty, fashion editors and celebrities amongst their long list of personal clients. “And when things went wrong, I blamed other people. I was pushing up hill through mud and was getting to the point where I didn’t want to be doing this any more – it was very, very hard work.
“When I completed The Landmark Forum, I found myself much less oriented around what other people thought of me, and much more focused on my team and our goals,” says the entrepreneur, whose success has earned international press. “I make it my responsibility to make sure people have what they need to do a great job, and I’m not afraid to ask others to contribute in those areas where I’m not as strong. My latest business venture is now exceeding all expectations.”
Many of us worry about what other people will think of us if we fail, or how great we will look if we succeed, McNamara adds. “While natural, it's a waste of time and energy,” he says. “What makes a difference is to keep your eye on what you’re committed to, and to be someone around whom others get to be bigger and experience winning as well.”
4. Practice asking yourself, “What’s possible?”
One of the keys to being successful is to develop the ability to think beyond the predictable limits and to develop the habit of looking for – and even inventing – what’s possible.
“We all have our reasons why certain things can't work: ‘I don't have the right connections,’ or ‘I don’t have enough capital,’ or ‘I don't have the right credentials,’” McNamara explains. “In Landmark Education's programmes, people develop a new ability to see a reason as merely ‘one possible interpretation.’ When you can see a reason not as a fact, but as one possible interpretation, you can explore solutions and possibilities that never occurred to you before. And you end up producing greater results – sometimes results that you never could have imagined – with much less effort.”
Paul Brennan is someone whose livelihood depends on being able to produce extraordinary results in a short period of time. At 44, the Londoner is known among the highest echelons of corporate and banking leaders as one of the top “CEOs for hire.” Brennan is someone who is brought in to a company to take on the role of CEO or Chairman of the Board when a company is poised for an acquisition strategy or major liquidity event.
“I could never do what I do unless I had the ability to consider there’s always a different way to approach any situation,” says Brennan, who says that he jumped about seven layers in seniority within 18 months after doing The Landmark Forum. “One of the things I’ve developed in myself is the ability to see things with new eyes, and to encourage other people to do the same. Before you can accomplish anything big or worthwhile, you first have to be someone who can see it as possible. I have learned how to look at things from different directions, and it’s made a profound difference. I’m a huge fan of people learning how to add that kind of value to their organisations.”
Talent Foundation Study: The Landmark Forum and its impact on people’s effectiveness at work
According to an independent study conducted by the London-based Talent Foundation, individuals who participated in The Landmark Forum “showed significantly higher levels of motivation, self-esteem and confidence” in relation to their ability to learn new things – a quality that is considered critical to an individual’s overall success. Participants’ level of motivation, when compared to the control group, was significantly higher even two years after participating in the course.
Within two years of participating in Landmark’s three-day programme, individuals showed:
• Significantly higher levels of self-esteem, motivation and self-confidence.
• More proactive attitudes related to their learning and ability to apply new skills at work.
• More confidence in finding opportunities to apply their skills and make a difference at work.
The Talent Foundation is an international not-for-profit organisation that conducts independent research and translates the findings into practical solutions for the work environment. The foundation’s sponsors range from the National Campaign for Learning (UK) to British Airways; Accenture; Spring Skills; and the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce. For more details about this study, visit the Talent Foundation study.