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One way to define success is to have the freedom to spend time in the way that gives one joy.

Every person has a combination of different elements that bring them joy from adventure to learning to practicing craft to helping others to building wealth to family to passions and hobbies.

This joy is often accompanied by a sense of flow when deeply immersed in doing, a feeling of grace and serenity when feeling as one with all around and often excitement and ecstasy of pleasurable pursuits.

Whether at life or at work success is dependent on many variables from inheritance to luck to chance which we do not control and to some things somewhat more in our control.

These include 5 Ps of Purpose, perspective, perceptiveness, pioneering, and persistence.

Purpose: Sooner or later those who succeed have a sense of where they are trying to go and some clear goals.

A star to steer by and outcomes to measure progress against.

If one does not know where one is trying to go it is unlikely one can get there.

In time this purpose or these purposes get chiseled into one’s individual DNA or the fabric and culture of successful companies.

When a company is successful it is often seen as driven by a purpose, it has teams built with individuals passionately aligned against a common outcome.

The passion many equate with those who succeed are usually driven by a focus and ferociousness of purpose.

Perspective: With time and experience comes a sense of perspective.

An understanding that the world does not revolve around oneself which allows one to become more empathetic, generous and invest in relationships.

A sense of perspective also brings with it the realization that life and career while in one way are short in other ways span decades and will bring a tangle of good and bad, ups and downs. To succeed one needs to grimace and march on in the bad times while not losing all sense of proportion and propriety when the force appears to be with us.

Perspective is also important to companies, so they see where they fit in their eco-systems and can determine both who to partner with but also to visualize their category broadly enough to see opportunities and threats outside a narrow slice of geography, time, or market.

Successful people and firms also put things in perspective when explaining and making their case. They place things in historical or other frameworks to build convincing stories.

Perceptiveness: The Cambridge dictionary defines someone who is perceptive as one who is “very good at noticing and understanding things that many people do not notice”.

This noticing and understanding can be about being emphatic in how one deals with people or seeing a niche or hiccup in a process that many may miss or to be self-aware of one’s weaknesses and mental models.

Today we live in a connected, collaborative world where people are looking for customized solutions. While data informs, insight and the wisdom are extracted by the perceptive.

Perception can be honed and grown and will be a key for success as it will be what helps differentiate carbon based analog feeling individuals from increasingly powerful silicon based digital computing machines.

Our perception and their power and precision will be what will drive profitable results.

Pioneering:  Long lasting firms innovate, invent and are idea driven. They do not let their roots tie them down but rather use roots to feed their wings to fly to the future. These innovations can be across a range of a company’s system from supply chain to logistics to customer service to pricing to engineering breakthroughs to re-thinking their business.

To succeed as an individual eventually everyone needs to become who they are.

We need to find our voice and superpower and each of us in doing so pioneer by becoming special and differentiated in our own way.

Defining oneself is an act of pioneering.

Switching jobs, cities and goals are all acts of taking a different path and trading the known for the unknown.

Persistence: Part of persistence is continued practice.

Practice of a craft, a skill, an art.

A portion of it is patience and recognizing that the reaction to a thing is what will determine how the thing affects us and often not reacting but instead waiting is the most prudent thing to do.

A lot of persistence is recognizing that it is in the everyday doing, the everyday improvements, the everyday re-invention and repair after setbacks that forge us in the foundry and furnace of industry and life.

It is sculpting each block of stone and placing them together that builds the cathedral.

Day by day.

Year by year.

The power of compounding skills, relationships, and returns.

How every “overnight” success comes to be…

Photographs by Hengki Koentjoro

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Rishad Tobaccowala (@rishad) is the author of the bestselling “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data” published by HarperCollins globally in January 2020. It has been described as an “operating manual” for managing people, teams and careers in the age we live in and The Economist Magazine called it perhaps the best recent book on Stakeholder Capitalism. Business and Strategy named it among the best business books of the year and the best book on Marketing in 2020. Rishad is also a speaker, teacher and advisor who helps people think, feel and see differently about how to grow their companies, their teams and themselves. More at

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