Last week, I was invited to share my “secrets of success” to a group of aspiring science students at Kutztown University. What I shared was that since I graduated from college I found there are no secrets to success, just discoveries you need to make on your own and with the help of others.

I shared three vital discoveries with the students that I had to make on my own. I was not told about them by my family, friends, school or workplace. In short, no one ever told me, but without these discoveries I am not sure where I would be today.

I found these to be so important to my success that I make it a point to share them with my family and employees. There are many other things that help too but paying attention to these three things will make anyone “armed and dangerous” and better positioned for long term success.

First, you must deliberately put yourself into the position to be successful.

Success tickets are not handed out when get you get your diploma. Being successful is not a random walk or an accident. It takes a lot of thought, constant hard work and help from others further down the career path. It is your responsibility to define your own success and attain it. Don’t assume that if you work long enough you will become successful. You also have to work hard and work smart.

Movie producer Woody Allen said 80% of success is just showing up, and there’s a lot of wisdom in that. Success isn’t accidental, it takes planning, thinking and work. You have to show up by putting yourself out there and engaging with people.

Second, you need to have clear but flexible goals that define success for you.

Studies prove that people who set goals are more successful than those who don't. Always ask yourself “what do I want?” Answer the question both short term and long term. Be clear in your goal setting and write it down. Update your goals as your life conditions change.

Having set goals gets you started, but you can’t achieve them without determining action items, timelines and tracking your results. Author Lewis Carroll said “if you do not know where you are going any road will get you there.” Picking a deliberate path forward will dramatically increase your chances of success.

Third, always work to improve your face to face communication skills.

This can be a make or break point. Effective communication is what separates you from the herd. You do get extra credit in life for your professional poise.

A recent study claims 93% of face to face communication is non-verbal. Success is about your poise, appearance and the way you speak.

  • 55% is your face, body, passion, handshake, smile, eye contact, dress, posture and body language
  • 38% is how express your words...pitch of voice, rate, volume and tone.

This 93% is something each of us must continuously work on through our lives. Some people seem to have a natural gift for effective non-verbal communication. The rest of us just have to work hard to get better. Becoming a leader in an organization, going to networking activities and professional training are a few things that will help. Continuous practice is vital. Remember that you can’t increase your comfort zone without stepping out of it.

Warren buffet recently said any college graduate can increase his or her lifetime “value” by 50% with excellent communication skills. Make it a priority for yourself.

I strongly believe that success is a personal choice. These three lessons that I learned in my personal path to success can help you too. Put yourself out there, know what you want to achieve and what steps you need to take to achieve it, and constantly practice becoming a more effective communicator.

Jim Ludlow

About Jim Ludlow

Jim is the President and CEO of Liquid Interactive. A founding father of Liquid, with dozens of published articles, a nationally-recognized personal investment book and decades of sound business practices quietly notched behind his name, Jim’s mere presence conjures a sense of confidence and integrity. He leads by example, encouraging each of us to push harder, continually improve, execute wisely and use our collective talents to bolster client growth.