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Eight ways to find success
Published on Friday, 24 Sep 2010
Illustration: Bay Leung
Book: The Extra One Per Cent
Author: Rob Yeung
Publisher: Macmillan

From his work on television and as a public speaker, psychologist Rob Yeung has learned the importance of combining education with entertainment, and he uses that formula to good effect in his latest book, The Extra One Per Cent: How Small Changes Make Exceptional People, which leavens solid research with insights, success stories and ideas that anyone can apply.

As Yeung explained during a recent visit to Hong Kong, his central theme is to identify eight key capabilities that enable people to stand out from the crowd and find success as they define it. The focus is on entrepreneurs, mostly small-scale operators, who have taken matters into their own hands and achieved balance, financial security and fulfilment.

"I'm a firm believer you can be good at anything you set your mind to," Yeung says. "But it needs the right kind of hard work and to realise that people who set out to do something they love usually do better than those who just set out to be rich."

In his dealings with clients, though, he finds that often people delude themselves. There are the managers who believe they have made "no mistakes" in the past five years, and the leaders whose personal wealth may suggest they have "made it", but who seem unpopular and unhappy.

"When I run a seminar and ask who thinks they are creative, probably 90 per cent will put up their hands," Yeung says. "It is part of any business bio, but if you ask in what way, there is nothing substantive behind it. The fact is they don't go about it the right way, or they don't get the right feedback."

The book's aim is to show how small changes can lead to dramatic improvements. The eight capabilities, which range from authenticity and "centredness" to being daring and visionary, are not intended as revelations. They are common denominators backed up by academic evidence and real-life examples that make it easier to achieve success in most fields.

"This is not just a prescription for business success," Yeung says. "It also applies if, for example, you want to run a non-profit or be a better parent. My filter is that we have one life and that our legacy is not confined to the wealth we leave behind. Coming from a research background, I see the importance of writing about what actually works, not just my opinion of what works in some cases. The best compliment anyone could pay me is to say the stories spoke to them."

 


Five insights

  • Focus your thinking on both, rather than, either/or solutions
  • Identify 10 high points in your life and what makes them special
  • When the stakes are high, listen as if your life depends on it
  • Challenge your own negative thoughts and contradict them
  • Make it a habit to review mistakes and failures, and learn from them

Positive thinking can fuel success

Title The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

Author Shawn Achor

Publisher Crown Business

Category Personal development 

Recent discoveries in positive psychology have shown that happiness fuels success. When we are positive, our brains become more creative, motivated, resilient and productive at work. In his latest title, Harvard University academic Shawn Achor draws from his work with Fortune 500 executives in 42 countries to explain how we can be more positive. He fleshes out seven actionable principles, including how to spot patterns of possibility and reap the dividends of investing in our social support network.