The 3 Success Factors

There’s a difference between putting in long hours and making endless sacrifices and concessions to leave no doubt whom the top performer is.

As a young girl growing up in 1960s Birmingham, Ala., Condoleezza Rice was given little choice by her parents. She was going to achieve no matter what.  

Rice’s mother was a high school teacher who taught the baseball player Willie Mays. Her father had earned a PhD, and her aunt wrote books on Charles Dickens.

“My parents were people who had me convinced that even if I couldn’t have a hamburger at Woolworth’s lunch counter, I could be president of the United States if I wanted to be,” she said.

Rice would later go on to become national security advisor to President George W. Bush, United States Secretary of State and provost at Stanford University.  

When author David Rubenstein asked her to reflect on the lessons from her early years and the decades she’s spent around world leaders for his book, “How to Lead,” Rice emphasized the value of integrity and the ability to earn people’s trust.

But she pointed out three other crucial factors to success that we’d also be wise to consider:

  1. Be twice as good. “Work hard enough to be confident that you’ve worked hard enough to be twice as good.”

  2. Never consider yourself a victim. “When you think you’re a victim, you’ve given control of your life to somebody else. You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control your response to your circumstances.”

  3. Don’t be disabled by people who may have prejudice. “Don’t take somebody else’s prejudice on you. It’s their fault, their problem, not your problem.”

We as leaders undoubtedly work hard, but Rice’s thoughts beg the question, “Are we working as hard as we need to be to be twice as good?” There’s a difference between putting in long hours and making endless sacrifices and concessions to leave no doubt whom the top performer is.

As leaders, we’re often put in difficult positions and face unfortunate hardships that we frankly didn’t deserve. But the more we allow these frustrations to occupy real estate in our minds, the more challenging our next steps become. Regardless of how unfair whatever it is we’re facing may be, these are the circumstances. Lamenting them will only hinder our ability to get onto the next step.

Let’s keep these three factors in mind today and do everything in our power to be the change we wish to see in our teams.