The Secret of Success

We all strive to be successful in our chosen field. Go into any bookshop and you'll be confronted by hundreds of self-help books on the subject. But, as usual, Lucy Kellaway has brought her incisive and acerbic wit to bear on the problem. The result is that she has distilled the advice into three things:

  • You need to be lucky. (I agree, except that I believe in creating one's own luck too.)
  • You need to be ambitious.

But the most brilliant observation comes right at the end of her article, which is well-worth reading or listening to:

While I’ve been writing this I’ve thought of one more law of success: to be able to say something obvious and make people think you’ve said something wise.


But I think that a lot of 'wise' things are obvious. Consultants and advisers often come out with things which are not earth-shattering, but which the client has unable to see because they are too close to the situation.

In my opinion, the problem is not in other people thinking that an obvious statement you've made is wise, but in your thinking it's wise. That way hubris lies: a trait which really successful people don't have.