Using Common Sense to Create Your Success

In yesterday’s post, I told you about Use Your Common Sense Day, a holiday I created to encourage people to use their common sense in their lives and careers.  In that post I mentioned my Common Sense Success System, something I designed to help you create the successful life and career you want and deserve.  Today, I’d like to give you a little more information on the system and another opportunity to order a free 90 minute DVD explaining it in detail.

My Common Sense Success System is based on what I call the Four Cs of Success:

  • Clarity of purpose and direction
  • Commitment to taking personal responsibility for your own success
  • Confidence in your ability to create the successful life and career you deserve
  • Competence in four key areas.

Let me tell you a little bit more about each of the Four Cs of Success…


Let’s start with clarity.  Clarity of purpose and direction is fundamental to your personal and professional success.  It all begins with a clear picture of how you define success.

When I was 25, if you asked me what I wanted to be doing when I was 50, I would have told you, “Running a one person consulting, coaching and speaking business from my house.”  Guess what?  I have been running a one person consulting, coaching and speaking business from my house ever since 1988.  My clarity of purpose propelled me toward my goal.

That’s why defining your clarity of purpose is so important.  Your clarity of purpose provides both a foundation and launching pad for your professional success.  The old saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know when you get there” is a cliché but true.  Getting clear on your personal definition of success is the first step to becoming a career and life success.

If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you take some time and think about your clarity of purpose.  How do you define success for yourself?  Keep that purpose and definition of success in mind as you go through your days.


Now let’s think about commitment.  It’s simple, really. Success is all up to you, and me, and anyone else who wants it. We all have to commit to taking personal responsibility for our own success. I am the only one who can make me a success. You are the only one who can make you a success.

Stuff happens as you go through life: good stuff, bad stuff, frustrating stuff, unexpected stuff.  Successful people respond to the stuff that happens in a positive way.  We humans are the only animals with free will.  That means we – you and me – get to decide how we react to every situation that comes up.  That’s why committing to taking personal responsibility for your personal and professional success is so important.

Committing to personal responsibility means recognizing that you are responsible for your life — and the choices you make. It means that you realize that while other people and events have an impact on your life, these people and events don’t shape your life. When you commit to taking personal responsibility for your life, you own up to the fact that how you react to people and events is what’s important. And you can choose how to react to every person you meet and everything that happens to you.

The concept of personal responsibility is found in most writings on success. For example, the first of Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people is, “Be proactive.”

The other two keys to success – confidence and competence — work only if you are committed to taking responsibility for your life and career. Commitment to personal responsibility is the foundation on which this model is built.

Personal responsibility means using this material once you learn it. I’ve written this post to provide you with useful information and knowledge on becoming a personal and professional success.  But, as the U.S. Steel pencils my Dad brought home from work used to say, “Knowing is not enough.”  You have to use what you learn, or else what you’ve learned is of no value.


I love stories. I think they are a very powerful way of making important points. Here’s one of my favorites about self confidence. 

The business executive was deep in debt and could see no way out. Creditors were closing in on him. Suppliers were demanding payment. He sat on the park bench, head in hands, wondering if anything could save his company from bankruptcy.

Suddenly an old man appeared before him. “I can see that something is troubling you,” he said. After listening to the executive’s woes, the old man said, “I believe I can help you.”  He asked the man his name, wrote out a check, and pushed it into his hand saying, “Take this money. Meet me here exactly one year from today, and you can pay me back at that time.” Then he turned and disappeared as quickly as he had come.

The business executive saw in his hand a check for $500,000, signed by John D. Rockefeller, then one of the richest men in the world!  “I can erase my money worries in an instant!” he realized. But instead, the executive decided to put the uncashed check in his safe.

Just knowing it was there gave him the strength to work out a way to save his business. With renewed optimism, he negotiated better deals and extended terms of payment. He closed several big sales. Within a few months, he was out of debt and making money once again.

Exactly one year later, he returned to the park with the uncashed check. The old man was there. But just as the executive was about to hand back the check and share his success story, a nurse came running up and grabbed the old man.

“I’m so glad I caught him!” she cried. “I hope he hasn’t been bothering you. He’s always escaping from the rest home and telling people he’s John D. Rockefeller.”  And she led the old man away by the arm.

The astonished executive just stood there, stunned. All year long he’d been wheeling and dealing, buying and selling, convinced he had half a million dollars behind him. Suddenly, he realized that it wasn’t the money, real or imagined, that had turned his life around. It was his newfound self-confidence that gave him the power to achieve anything he went after.

As nice as this story is, I doubt if it is actually true. However, like a lot of fables, it makes a great common sense point about personal and professional success. If you believe in yourself and your success, you are likely find ways to make that belief come true. Think about it.

If you want to become self confident you need to do three things.  1) Become an optimist. Learn from, and then forget yesterday’s mistakes.  Focus on tomorrow’s achievements.  2) Face your fears and take action.  Action cures fear.  Procrastination and inaction compound it.  Failure is rarely fatal.  Do something, anything that will move you closer to achieving your goals.  3) Surround yourself with positive people.  Build a network of supportive friends.  Jettison the negative people in your life. 


Finally, if you want to succeed in this life, you have to be competent.  You need to develop four key skills. 

  • Creating Positive Personal Impact,
  • Performing in an Outstanding Manner,
  • Dynamic Communication,
  • Interpersonal Competence.

Let’s take a look at each of these skills in more detail…

Positive Personal Impact

All successful people create positive personal impact.  Positive personal impact is like charisma, only more so.  People gravitate towards people with positive personal impact.  When you create positive personal impact other people want to be around you.  They want to work with you.  They want to be your friend.  They want you on their teams.

People with positive personal impact develop and nurture their personal brand.  They are impeccable in their presentation of self.  They know and follow the basic rules of etiquette.  If you master these three keys, you’ll be able to create positive personal impact.

Outstanding Performance

All successful people are outstanding performers.  It’s the price of admission to the success club. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that performance alone will get you where you want to go.  Performance is only of the characteristics of successful people.  Outstanding performance is important, but it alone will not guarantee your success.

The Dali Lama of all people has some interesting things to say about outstanding performance.  “One can be deceived by three types of laziness: the laziness of indolence, which is the wish to procrastinate; the laziness of inferiority, which is doubting your capabilities; and the laziness that is attached to negative actions, or putting great effort into non-virtue.”

I really like what he has to say because it drives home an important point about taking personal responsibility for becoming an outstanding performer. The Dalai Lama doesn’t let us off the hook by saying, “I didn’t think I could do it.” Instead, he says that doubting our abilities is a form of laziness. That’s some tough love!

And, if you think about it, he is right. All too often, we let ourselves off the hook by saying, “I’m not going to try that, because I don’t think I can do it.” This is being lazy. “I can’t do it, so I won’t even try.” As I said these words out loud, they sounded pretty lame. Agree?  If you do, you’ll stop using lack of self confidence as an excuse for not doing the work it takes to become an outstanding performer.

Dynamic Communication

I like Chinese food.  Once, I got a fortune cookie that read, “Your talents will be recognized and suitably rewarded.” I was happy with this fortune, but it made me think.

My talents, your talents, everyone’s talents will be recognized and rewarded if we develop and use our communication skills. There are three types of communication skills critically important for career and life success: 1) Conversation skills; 2) Writing skills; and 3) Presentation skills.  You need to develop each of these skills if you want to have your talents recognized.

Become a good conversationalist by listening.  Conversation skills are important for building your professional network. Networking is an important but often overlooked communication skill. All successful people build and nurture strong networks. 

Writing is another necessary tool that helps get your skills noticed. When I was in high school, I was the editor of my yearbook. To raise funds to cover the cost of our yearbook, we sold ads. There were a lot of factories in the town where I grew up. In the past, the yearbook staff had never approached these factories to place ads in the yearbook. I wrote sales letters to all of the plant managers. We got several full page ads from those letters.

One of the plant managers wrote back, asking if I would come to see him. I got dressed up in my one and only suit and went to his office at the appointed time. When I arrived, his secretary buzzed him to let him know I was there. I heard her say, “No, sir, he sent a student.” When I walked in to his office and introduced myself, he was surprised. He told me that my sales letter was so well written that he thought I was the teacher who was the yearbook sponsor.

Two years later, I was looking for a summer job after my first year of college. The market was tight. I called this man. He remembered me, and I got a job.

Presentation skills may present the biggest opportunity for getting your talents noticed. As I have always worked in training and development, I had to develop and hone my presentation skills at a young age. This wasn’t too difficult for me because I never suffered from stage fright. I used to compete in speech contests when I was in high school. I was the emcee for my high school talent show. I was on the radio in college.

A couple of years ago, I did a talk for a local chamber of commerce. As it so happens, the Sheriff’s department is a member of this chamber. The Sheriff himself happened to be there that day. He liked my talk. About a week later, I got a call from his training office. The Sheriff asked him to get in touch with me to conduct some supervisory training for their sergeants. I never would have gotten this business if it weren’t for the notice I received from a talk at that chamber meeting.

Interpersonal Competence

Interpersonal competence is the final competency that you must master.  No matter how self confident you are, how good you are at creating positive personal impact, how great a performer or dynamic a communicator you are, you will not succeed if you are not interpersonally competent.

Pat Wiesner is a friend.  He is the publisher of Colorado Business.  A while back he wrote a great column entitled “The Biggest Management Sin of All: How to Lose Your Job or at least Deserve to Lose It.”

The biggest sin?  Pat says it is demeaning people. “My belief is that if we get caught shouting at people, demeaning them in any way, we should be fired. On the spot.”

I agree. And this holds for everyone – not just people in leadership and management positions. Raising your voice and demeaning people is not only poor leadership, it is one of the hallmarks of interpersonally incompetent people.

Belittling, intimidating, or otherwise demeaning people is not only nasty, it is destructive to their self esteem and self confidence. Interpersonally incompetent people often seem to feel that the best way to feel good about themselves is to make others feel bad about themselves. That’s why they often engage in demeaning and bullying behavior.

This is simply not true. The title of one of the first self-help books I ever read – published by Thomas Harris in 1969, I’m OK, You’re OK – says it best. Interpersonally competent people come from an “I’m OK, You’re OK” place. Bullies and demeaning people come from an “I’m OK, You’re Not OK” place.

Interpersonally competent people realize that we’re all OK. They work hard to meet people where they are and to build strong relationships with all of the people in their lives.

Treat people with kindness and respect. Help them enhance their feelings of self esteem. Do what you can to build their self confidence. If you do, you’ll be known as an interpersonally competent person – and interpersonally competent people are welcome wherever they go.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people have mastered four C’s – clarity, commitment, confidence and competence.  My Common Sense Success System is based on these four C’s.  I am offering a free 90 minute DVD that explains the four C’s in detail.  Just go to to claim your free copy. You can and will succeed if you do four things.  1) Clarify your purpose and direction in life.  2) Commit to taking personal responsibility for your own success.  3) Become a dynamic communicator.  4) Get competent.  You will learn how to do all four of these things when you get my free 90 minute DVD at

That’s my take on the four C’s of success.  What’s yours?  Please take a few minutes to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always thanks for reading.


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