Yesterday, the final piece of a puzzle fell into my lap, a puzzle I've been working on for the past 10 years.

I've been trying to build a model for how emotions create success, but I kept on getting tripped up when I came to gratitude. I was categorizing it as a result of success or a form of success. And that didn't seem quite right, somehow.

Here's the missing puzzle piece: A study soon to be published in the journal Psychological Science proves that people who are grateful are willing to wait longer for a financial reward. In other words, gratitude creates patience.

Bingo. I'm now able to put gratitude where it actually belongs: as a source, rather than result, of success. This completes the following pattern:

1. Gratitude

As I mentioned above, a new study shows that people who feel gratitude are more likely to delay financial gratification. They'll wait longer to get more money rather than take less money immediately. That's patience in action.

In business, patience is extraordinarily valuable. For example, why do some companies release products at exactly the right moment, while others release flops that are ahead of their time? Patience.

Why are some people so effective at dealing with employees, colleagues, coworkers, and customers, while other people are constantly frustrated and angry and do things that alienate those around them? Patience.

So here's the first formula:


How do you create more gratitude? Easy: At the end of each day, list in your journal (or at least review in your mind) three reasons you feel grateful. As that list grows, review it frequently. As you increase your level of gratitude, you'll find yourself growing more patient, less stressed, and making better decisions about people and products.

2. Commitment

As much as we'd like to think that "mission statements" motivate, it's impossible to create commitment in another person. Commitment emerges from each individual's personal reasons why he or she wants to accomplish something.

Commitment is the same thing as motivation. It sustains you when you're not sure whether your actions will pay off. It carries you along through the difficult times and vaults you forward during the good times.

Without commitment/motivation, people never summon up the courage required to consistently take action. Worst case, they sit and wait for other people to tell them what to do. And that's the definition of business failure.

So here's the second formula:


How do you create more commitment? Easy: Decide what your life is all about--your higher purpose--and tie your day-to-day activities to that purpose. It may be something as simple as feeding your family or as exalted as changing the world. Or both.

The more clearly you know your purpose, the greater your commitment, the greater your motivation, the more action you'll take, and the greater success you'll achieve.

3. Empathy

Being grateful, patient, committed, and motivated are necessary, but not sufficient, to create success.  There's still one piece left, which is your ability to connect with other people.

Empathy lies at the root of every successful product and service. Without empathy, how can you know what customers want or need? Without empathy, how can you know what your product or service is worth?

Empathy is also the key to managing people. Empathy allows you to understand other people's dreams and desires so that you can help make them a reality. Empathy allows you to say and do the right thing to help others break through to the next level.

So here's the third formula:


How do you create more empathy? Easy: Listen more than you talk and when you listen, really listen. Before you speak or act, consider what effect you'll have on those around you. Then treat others the way you would like to be treated.

So there you have it: the three emotions at the root of success.