Warren Buffett once said, "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything."

In a way, he's right. (Any self-made billionaire has surely gotten a few things right.)

Still, saying no so you can focus on doing a few things really well still doesn't guarantee success. But this does. 

As Buffett says he tells college students:

"When you get to be my age, you will be successful if the people who you hope to have love you, do love you."

Clearly that's true where family and friends are concerned. (In fact, research shows you'll definitely be more successful if you marry the right person.)

Substitute "like" for "love," though, and it's also true in business.

Skills, education, experience -- where success is concerned, all those things and more matter. But one thing matters more: True success -- the kind of success that also results in happiness -- isn't possible if you don't build great relationships. (Sure, you can be self-serving, obnoxious, and insufferable and still get rich. But you'll be rich and lonely.)

Plus, it's a lot easier to be successful if people like you -- when your employees, your customers, your partners, and your colleagues not only hope you succeed but, without being asked, actively help you succeed.

Those kinds of relationships don't just make you successful in business. They make you successful in life.

And make you a lot happier.

Simple ways to be the kind of person who feels successful?

1. Help without being asked

Most people lend a hand when someone asks. Very few people offer help before they are asked, even though most of the time that's when a little help can make the biggest difference.

When you see someone struggling, offer to help. But not in that vague, "Is there something I can do to help you out?" way.

Offer specific ways you can help. Then you can push past the reflexive "No, I'm OK" responses. And you can roll up your sleeves and make a real impact in another person's life.

Not because you hope someday the favor will be returned, but just because you care.

2. Answer the question behind the question

Many people ask a different question than the one they want answered.

Employees used to ask me if they should take a business class; what they really wanted to know was whether I thought they had management potential. A friend asked me what I thought about an especially hard Gran Fondo; what he really wanted to know was whether I thought he could get in shape to ride it. (He was and did.)

Behind many simple questions is often a larger question that goes unasked.

Look for the unasked question, and answer that one, too. Then the people around you will know you care about what they ask and you care about them.

3. Show a lot more patience.

Showing patience is a wonderful way to let people know we care about them.

Showing patience and expressing genuine confidence is a wonderful way to let people know we believe in them.

Showing patience is a great way to show -- not just tell, but show -- how much you care.

3. Give first and even last

Great relationships are mutually beneficial.

But they rarely start that way. 

That's why it's your job to start the giving ball rolling.

Don't think about what you might want. Start by thinking about what you can give. See giving as the best way to establish a lasting connection and a genuine relationship. Make it all about the other person, not about you.

In time, you'll build relationships with people who think the same way. You'll build great professional relationships. You'll build great personal relationships.

Which is the surest path to success -- no matter how you define success.

Published on: Dec 11, 2018
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