Subba Iyer’s post It’s not what you think, but how you think that matters!
resonated with a few of my personal realisations and musing recently on business and personal success.

“Create a strategy for [my] life” – having a purpose enables purposeful work. Many of us strive towards mastery of a body of knowledge. But without Purpose this mastery is essentially a pointless act as an end in itself. I am struggling with this sense of Purpose at the moment. I know lots of stuff, I know how to do many things well. But what shall I use this life for? Possibilities beckon… In business, it is easier to replicate the mastery of skill and expertise than it is to copy a Purpose. A purpose a heartfelt condition unique to individuals, and is what sets us, and our businesses, apart.

Focus on what feels good to me – “…people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most” We struggle to control the external world, that which is essentially uncontrollable. We struggle to try and force the outcomes we want. And yet what we do have control over is how we feel inside in each and every moment. I can choose situations and responses that maximises my state of flow. And when I feel good, the outcomes take care of themselves.

“It’s easier to hold to [my] principles 100% of the time than it is to hold to them 98% of the time … You’ve got to define for yourself what you stand for and draw the line in a safe place.” – the importance of principles, of ideals, is critical in maintaining a clear focus, direction and differentiation. In a business I once had, when we the partners stuck to our principles 100%, we attracted strong attention, passionate attention and were strongly differentiated in the market. As soon as we started deviating from these principles, we became spineless and undifferentiated. As soon as we were ready to sacrifice our principles for the sake of our egos, or any other “rational”, “business” reasons, we became same-same. We shifted the line, and lost integrity and respect. That was a powerful lesson indeed.

“if you have a humble eagerness to learn something from everybody, your learning opportunities will be unlimited” – I once thought I lacked arrogance. The go-getting, ne’er give up attitude needed to be a success in business. I then had the good fortune to work directly with an arrogant person. On the surface, the person had the stereotypical forceful drive to forge ahead. Interestingly, it soon became apparent how his behaviour quickly isolated himself from real opportunities and good people. He was so focused on imposing his will, his thoughts, and his needs on others, he was so quick to blow his trumpet, and force his own beliefs, that he drowned-out new opportunities (I realised that most great opportunities actually come quietly and softly in the most unexpected and effortless manner.) Instead he attracted other arrogant people – people who were equally adamant about imposing their beliefs and will on him!

“Generally, you can be humble only if you feel really good about yourself” – which brings us back to the first point above. I choose to do whatever I can to make myself feel good in every situation. I can then maximise my openness to new opportunities. This ties back clearly to Ingrid Bacci’s book The Art of Effortless Living. Love it!

“Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success” – in other words, I choose to define success in my own way, for myself. It is so easy to buy into other people’s or society’s definition of success. Everyone who is doing it one way wants you to do it their way too – because perhaps deep down they fear that their way may not actually be what they truly want! If there is one lesson I have learnt from living and working in conservative and status-quo Singapore – is that to NOT live by others’ expectations or rules. For to do so will only bring me regrets and grief!