12 Aug

Three Keys to Success — No Matter Who, or What, You Are


Success comes down to three things: ability, attitude, and access.

Ever since the PodCamp Boston 4 un-conference this past weekend, there’s been a lot of discussion kicking around about how to be successful in social media—and what role gender may or may not play in that.

Chris Penn‘s response that day, and afterward, was to “be awesome.” But “awesome” comes in two parts: what you do that’s awesome (ability) and how you do it (attitude).

Those two will, I think, bring you a fair amount of success on their own. If you do great things—andenough people like how you do them—you’ll succeed.

But the real issue on the table, I think, is access. To be successful, you need access to the people who care, to the influencers who can open doors for you—access to opportunities in the first place.

Barriers to that access are both internal (you create them) and external (they are created around you). There are inarguably doors that are quite simply closed because you are female (or male or transgender or…), are black (or white or Asian or…), are gay (or straight or bisexual or…). There are always barriers between groups. And even within them.

But the doors are relative; they depend on the situation. Being female, or any of the above, does not universally put you at a disadvantage. There are times when being female (or whatever you are) puts you in the majority or gives you attributes that other simply don’t have, and therefore in a position of power. That’s why I put no stock in labels.

Internal barriers are more insidious, because we often don’t even see them. Because they dictate our worldview, they create the truth we experience. The challenge, then, is to search and destroy whatever barriers we’ve created, as those are the only ones we can directly control.

Here’s the thing: whatever you give attention to grows stronger. And attention is a finite, zero-sum resource. The more attention you give to the barriers in front of you—no matter where they come from—the less attention you have to give to yourself. When you focus on barriers, you give them your power.

Take. It. Back.

When faced with a door, you have three options:

  1. Find a different door.
  2. Go somewhere with open doors.
  3. Open the damn door.

Don’t find your path. Make it.

Note: this post originally appeared on ‘Round the Square.