“In times of change, it is the learners who will inherit the earth, while the learned will find themselves beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists.” — Al Rogers
I collect success.
From stories of heroes to gems of insight, I gather and organize principles, patterns, and practices for success.
It’s like a living playbook for life with short-cuts, success patterns, and proven practices.
It supplies me with insight and action that I can use for just about every situation.
Whether it’s motivation or strategies or tactics, it’s my unfair advantage and how I get the edge in life.
It’s truly how I “stand on the shoulders of giants.”
Keys to an Effective Success Library
Here are some of the keys to success when it comes to building a personal “Success KB”:
- Think in Nuggets. Think in terms of “nuggets” or “gems of insight.” Collect a nugget at a time and chunk things down.
- Keep it Scannable. Think in terms of “tickler lists of insight.” Keep ti scannable and write in one-liners where you can. Make it easy to quickly flip, sort, or search through your KB.
- Factor reference from Action. If you have a bunch of blah, blah, blah, simply add three take aways or key actionable insight to the top. Ideally, keep your actionable methods and techniques, separate from good concepts and stories, which are really reference information. This will help you turn insight into action.
- Keep it Simple. This is a must. It’s crucial to have a simple way to store and retrieve things. Otherwise, the little bit of friction adds up and it dies a slow death of a 1000 paper cuts.
I happen to use Evernote for my KB now, but I’ve also used pen and paper, Wikis, text files on my hard drive … etc. Whatever you use, simply make sure that it works for you and it’s simple.
What Goes Into a Personal Success Library
I think the real key to building an effective “Success KB” is knowing what to put into it. Here are some of the things I collect:
- Ah-Has – jot down the little ah-has you find or when you connect the dots. For example, one of my ah-has I wrote down is “legacy is a by-product of giving your best where you have your best to give.”
- Book Nuggets – summarize the best insights from the best books. For example, here’s my book nugget Argue Your Way to Optimism from the book, Learned Optimism.
- Lessons Learned – make a tickler list of your key lessons from mentors or experiences. You can even draw from movies. For example, here are my Lessons Learned from Peaceful Warrior.
- Mental Models – write down lenses you can use for looking at life. For example, add the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to your tool-belt to help you understand yourself and others or the Johari Window to help you know and share yourself more effectively.
- Patterns – note down patterns you see, including your own success patterns, and name them so you can remember them.
- People – collect stories of success and lessons learned. One way is to summarize lessons learned from your heroes. For example, here is my lessons learned from Stephen Covey.
- Principles – note down timeless principles. For example, Covey provides a nice set of principles to start your collection with.
- Questions – write down the best questions you find help you in any situation. For example, some of my favorite questions are, “Is it working?” … “Who else shares this problem that I can learn from?” … “What do you need to be successful?” … “What do you want to experience?” … “What’s my next best move?” … “How can I use this?” As you can see, questions are my game changer.
- Quotes – write down words of wisdom and the best quotes you hear from friends, books, people, movies, songs … etc. The right words said the right way can change your life. For example, here are some of my quotes collections.
- Success Stories — summarize success stories. You come across success stories everyday, whether they are your own, or on the news, or somebody you know.
- Techniques – write down techniques, ways or methods for doing things. This is your colleciton of “know-how.”
Ultimately you end up with a consolidated set of distinctions and reference examples to draw from. The sum is way more than the parts.
Start Small with Your Success Library
I started small. A few years back, I got into the habit of dumping quick little insights.
If I took training, I would make sure I had three key take aways. When I met with my mentors, I got into the habit of taking brief notes. If I read a book, I summarized the most important, actionable things. If I heard a great quote, I jotted it down. If I saw a movie, I walked away with three key take aways.
Next thing you know, turning insight into action became second-nature.
Remember that the goal isn’t to take the place of experience. It’s to supplement it and help you stack the deck in your favor. Often what you don’t know can hurt you, and in many scenarios, there is no need to start from scratch.
Photo by totalAldo.