Secrets to Success

John-Paul Micek

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Always certain,
sometimes wrong

Gen. George S. Patton was the poster child for confidence and certainty. He was a remarkable leader who trained and motivated his men to achieve astounding results.

With an unwavering certainty and emphasis on mission, he transformed an utterly demoralized American force in North Africa into an army capable of defeating the Nazis' brilliant Gen. Rommel. His unit conquered more enemy troops and liberated more civilians than any other in World War II.

Helen Keller once said, "Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them. But do not let them master you." Both Patton and Keller realized that in order for person to succeed he or she must routinely overcome personal failings, but never to doubt themselves.

I have always made the connection between a relative level of confidence and its proportional relationship to success. But until the other day, I never realized what a powerful role the attitude of certainty has had in helping me achieve all that I have so far in life. In frustration, my wife said to me, "You're always so darned certain, but you are wrong sometimes you know."

Her comment at first concerned me, but as I took it to heart it made me realize a couple of things.

First, it called my attention to the fact that I need to parse my words at times when conveying a vision or plan of action. The second is that certainty is the gasoline that fuels the engine of forward momentum.

Certainty, built upon dedicated thought and study, allows you to make decisions quickly. Does that mean you will always be right? Of course not. But it does mean that you are in a state of constant growth. Whether your decision takes you two steps forward, or one step back -- the wise person is always growing from each step.

To help you begin to increase your feeling of certainty, here are three quick tips:

>> Complete your due diligence

Being certain and being right more than you're wrong requires that you have a solid knowledge and understanding in your area of expertise.

>> Eliminate hesitation

Whenever I become concerned with making a wrong decision I'm always reminded of an interview I saw with championship hockey player Wayne Gretzky. In explaining how he became such an outstanding player, Gretzky said, "Most other players' tendency is to go to where the puck is, I skate to where the puck is going." That certainty allows him to act without hesitation. Hesitation will cause your worst nightmares to come true.

>> Certainty is not "cockiness"

Being certain and confident of the direction that you want to go does not mean that you have to be arrogant. In fact, if you do not take time to listen to the viewpoints of others and analyze where your plans may be flawed, you will fail more often than you would like.

Confidence does not come out of nowhere. It is the result of constant work and dedication.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

John-Paul Micek is a small-business strategist
and chief operating officer at RPM Success Group.
Reach him at
or toll-free at (888) 334-8151.

Deborah Cole Micek, chief executive officer
of RPM Success Group, is a business success coach
and life strategist. Reach her at
or (888) 334-8151.


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