Five Rules for Success

5 Rules for Success business leadershipKazuo Inamori, a Buddhist Billionaire, recently wrote a book about his success which culminates in 5 simple rules for business success, (or success in anything for that matter).

The first rule is Question your Motive. I love this one because it requires that you reflect not only on what you want for yourself, but what is your larger intention? Business success, in Inamori’s mind, is not just about what you want to achieve for yourself, it’s about what does your product or service do for the whole – the greater good if you will. When it’s no longer about the leader or leaders’ motives, but the greater good, success usually follows. This requires leaders to ask themselves the question, what am I really doing this for?

The second rule is Adhere to Perfection. I have a bit of heartburn over this one, but it’s probably semantics. He admits he is a perfectionist and it’s a habit or way of life that he adopts. I worry that perfectionism drives people crazy because nothing can ever actually be perfect, can it? However, I do agree that we need to set very high standards and always see how things can be made better for whatever purpose is at the heart of the endeavor.

The third rule is Conceive Optimistically and Plan Pessimistically. This is my favorite because you can really get some good ideas on the table, without constraints on creativity. Then you plan the execution as if everything could go wrong. This way you have covered the bases and are prepared when obstacles come up. Testing an idea or theory is not a bad thing and we should try to shoot it down before it gets to market. This would have saved a LOT of companies money over the years. Often we are afraid to question an idea someone else has come up with for fear of offending, but we need to so failures never get out of the gate. However, this can go to the extreme if a company’s culture supports ridiculing or busting others’ ideas as office sport. Balance in everything works well.

The fourth rule is Attitude x Effort x Ability. As I’ve said many times, it’s more important to hire for attitude and train for skills because you can’t change attitudes easily, if at all. Inamori looks for character first, which includes the effort one is willing to put towards a task. Ability comes last because in most cases it can be trained, and someone with great ability and a negative attitude will have difficulty in succeeding.

Number five is easy – Set Goals Beyond your Abilities. Stretch yourself, dream big and you have a much higher likelihood of getting there. He is a believer in the power of positive thinking, and I agree. It’s not the complete formula for success, but it’s a powerful ingredient that when absent, almost always dooms the endeavor to failure.

These five rules are from a very successful man and are really a very simple recipe for business. Take a look and see which you are already doing and which ones you might want to incorporate into your culture. You might be surprised by the results!