When the was writing Masters of Success, Dr. Misner asked thousands of BNI members what they felt the secret to success was. They mentioned factors like vision, goals, systems, passion, and persistence. Then he asked several highly successful people what they thought it took to be successful. They provided the same list. So did a number of undergraduates studying business–except that the college students also mentioned luck.
So if we all know what it takes to be successful, why is it that we’re not all as successful as we’d like to be?
There is no secret to success. Success is simply the uncommon application of common knowledge.
When you ask people the secret to their success, you rarely hear a secret. What you hear about is unwavering adherence to a system or a plan. Successful people focus on the goal and work through or around everything else. Success requires not just knowing what you need to do, but doing it–over and over again.
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Complete Transcript of Episode 423 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you and where are you?
I am in Europe this week for a quick trip for BNI and will be leaving here today.
That sounds fun. Was it fun?
It is a necessary business trip.
Well, I hope you got a lot done.
Yep. Wherever I go, I try to get as much done as I can. You know, I like- we have talked about this before on the podcast, that I try to tell roughly where I am at and what I am doing so that members understand that I am not just sitting out, or as someone in an email once said to me, hanging out at the beach with a margarita.
Although that sounds good also.
It sounds good. I have been known to do it, but I am generally traveling a lot for BNI and meeting members all over the world, which is what I really love doing.
Great. So are you going to tell us what is success today?
Yes. I am going to tell you what is success. Over my career, I have observed people with different personality profiles, backgrounds and different approaches to business achieve success in life. A lot of times, I have wondered if there were any recurring themes running through their success stories if they could clearly illustrate what creates success.
A number of years ago, when I was interviewing BNI members for a book I was writing called Masters of Success, I asked thousands of BNI members what they felt the secret of success was. You know, they generally told me things like vision, goals, passion, persistence, systems. These were the things that they said it took to be successful.
I thought that was really interesting, so I did ask really highly successful people who had attained great wealth or personal success in business or science what it took to be successful. These were people who were in the book like Erin Brockovich, Buzz Aldrin the astronaut, and many other successful people.
They generally told me that success involved things like vision, goals, passion, persistence, systems. Sound familiar at all? It was the same list. This made me really curious, so much so that I was teaching at the time at a state university in southern California. I asked hundreds of college students over the few years that I was working on this book what they thought was the secret to success, what did it take to be successful. These were all undergraduates in business with little or no real world business experience. What I found amazing was that they also said success involved things like vision, goals, passion, persistence, systems.
They gave me the exact same list with one exception. There was one exception that the college students had. They generally add, as someone said from the class, luck. That luck had something to do with success, which is really interesting because none of the BNI members I talked to ever said luck and virtually none of the really successful people – really wealthy successful well-known people that I met said luck, which really nailed it for me my theory of success and luck, which is the harder you work the luckier you get.
With that exception, people basically said the same things: vision, goals, passion, persistence, systems. They all gave me the same answers. So if we all know what it takes to be successful, why is it that we are not all as successful as we would like to be? That is the real question. It was the question for me.
People are always looking for the secret and somewhat elusive secret to success beyond what they already sense to be important. The truth is there is no great mystery to success, whether you are talking about success in BNI or success in life, in your personal life or in your business life.
Very often success is simply the uncommon application of common knowledge. Now, I am, going to repeat that one. Success is simply the uncommon application of common knowledge. When you hear successful people talk about their secret to success, have you noticed- I don’t know if you have asked. I have asked a lot of people what is the secret to their success. I don’t hear a secret.
When you ask, “What’s your secret?” They don’t tell you a secret. Ever. I have never heard anyone tell me a secret and I go, “That is the secret? I had no idea that was it.”
No, you know what you hear? You hear their unwavering adherence to some system or approach that they believed in with intensity and determination. They followed it with uncommon focus on something that less successful people simply take for granted or pay lip service to.
I have found that successful people focus on the goal and work through or around everything else. In sports, this is called keeping your eye on the ball. They do it with passion and precision. I am talking about this today in a BNI podcast because that is what it takes to be successful in BNI.
There is no secret. There is no magic. It is the fundamentals. It is the system. It is following the program. It is that uncommon commitment. It is that uncommon application of common knowledge. It is common knowledge because directors can tell you what it takes. There are manuals. There are systems. There is training.
What I have learned over the years is that successful people focus on the goal and they work through and around everything else.
Even when the ideas are simple and easy to understand, they often don’t get implemented by people, not just in BNI, in business in general. It doesn’t surprise me anymore that 50% of all businesses fail within the first three years. It is because these people start a business and they don’t execute the fundamentals. They think that there is some big secret that no one has told them.
After I presented a keynote speech a few years ago in Europe, in Sweden at that time, a woman from the audience came up to me and said, “Everything you said makes so much sense. Much of it was about things that I had learned were important to do but I never did them because they seemed too simple.” I thought that was really interesting. “I never did them because they seemed too simple. I thought there had to be more to it than that, that the road to success I thought had to be more complicated. I wasted valuable time -years- looking for some secret.” I will never forget that she said, “I don’t understand why people find it easy to make things so difficult, myself included.”
That was a great conversation for me. I have said this for a few years now, that a lot of what I talk about is simple but not easy. It is simple because it is pretty straightforward. It is not easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it. They don’t. They don’t do the hard work necessary to achieve success.
I believe success not only comes to those that have a passion and a vision but who also have a persistence and a commitment to perform the fundamentals over and over. It is about doing six things a thousand times. I have talked about this on the podcast before. Six things a thousand times not a thousand things six times. People have to be willing to work and learn until they can perform these fundamentals flawlessly.
In the end, success is not about being different. It is not about secret knowledge. In the end, everybody knows what the goal is and they really have kind of a sense about how to achieve it. Success has been around a long time. Success is about knowing the things that you need to do and to do them consistently over and over again by not getting sidetracked.
Success truly is the uncommon application of common knowledge. I see that over and over again, that chapters that focus on those fundamentals and don’t get sidetracked looking for easy answers are the ones that do the best.
You know, this week, I did a training for BNI Directors at Director orientations. You know, leadership teams, You have been on the leadership team in your chapter, right?
You go through four or five hours of training for that. Director’s training is 24 hours. It is three days of eight hours. I spoke this week about- they were asking what do you do with chapters that just don’t get it.
I told them a story about doing a training once where I had a couple of chapters that were just awesome, awesome, awesome. They just did everything. They were really fantastic chapters. At the same training, I had a couple of chapters that sucked. That was the technical term. They were just miserable. They didn’t like what they were doing. They weren’t happy. They complained all the time. They wouldn’t follow the program.
It was really interesting. At this training, I had a member stand up, one of the leadership team people. He said, “I have a question for you.”
I said, “Yeah, what is the question.”
He said, “Actually, it is not for you.” It is for them and he pointed into the corner where these really great chapters were. The room was kind of split. In one corner of the room were these marginal chapters and in another corner were these great chapters. He said, ” I have a question for them,” because these were very strong chapters. “I want to know what their secret is. I want them to answer it.”
I said, “Okay. Do one of you want to tackle that?”
One of them stood up. One of the members who was a President of a chapter. He held up the manual we were working from, the leadership team manual. He said, “The secret is,” and he pointed at the manual, “we follow this. You don’t. I have been sitting here for three hours listening to you.” This is what he said to the member. It was a member talking to a member. I could never get away with saying it.
He said, “I have been sitting her for three hours listening to you whine and complain about how it is not working. I realized that you are not following the program. You keep looking for some secret. You keep looking for something else. Stop it. Follow the program. If you follow the program, you will do great. We are doing great. We are not making excuses. We are buckling down and following the system. I figure these guys have been doing this for years. They have to know something I don’t know. So I am following the program and guess what? We are having tremendous success. You are failing and you are wondering why. That’s why.”
And he sat down. I could have never gotten away with saying that to a member, but another member could and he did. I have to tell you that it made a big difference with that chapter and the other chapters that were there. They realized that truly success in a BNI chapter is the uncommon application of common knowledge.
The knowledge is there. The key is following the program consistently day in and day out. That is truly the secret to success. I know you have heard me say before that secret to success without hard work is still a secret. It is about doing the hard work and the fundamentals consistently.
Yeah. The last word “consistently”, that is the hardest part right there.
Yeah, it is because people, like water, tend to seek the path of least resistance. They want to do what is easiest, not necessarily what is best. Hard work is hard so it is easy to lay back. You know, everybody does that a little. I do. But the question is what are you doing consistently? If you want to be consistently successful, you have to be consistently willing to do the hard work necessary.
But come on- how hard is this really? It’s not, really. People- I travel and I will spend hours speaking and shaking hands and doing photos. People will say to me, “You have to be tired. This has to be hard.”
I say, “Look, I could be digging ditches. This is easy. This is easy.”
So you think about generating business through referrals through networking. This is easy. Yeah, it can be kind of hard work, but we could be digging ditches- all of us. We could be doing dishes or digging ditches. This, comparatively, is much easier than that. It is a form of hard work in and of itself, but it is a lot easier than other forms of building a business.
So my advice to BNI members is focus, buckle down, follow the system. It truly is the uncommon application of common knowledge that makes a successful person and a successful BNI chapter. That is my message for today, Priscilla.
Okay, great. Thank you so much. I think I will try to take your message to heart and we will see if we can make everything we are doing successful.
I think that is it for this week. I want to thank Dr. Misner for that message. I would like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.