Consultant Matt Stevens has published a white paper: What is success in construction? that I think is worthy reading — especially if you are trying to figure out your goals, priorities and measuring-sticks.
He observes that there are distinctions between personal and business success, observing that “personal success” usually lies in the individual — and can vary depending on circumstances and cultural background.
His definition of business success, however, should be worthy of some scrutiny:
We need a description that can be used in all circumstances. Here is my one-sentence definition.
Professional success is the respect of intelligent people.
These knowledgeable and experienced people know how unfair and demanding the construction industry is. In other words, intelligent people know your challenges and appreciate your approach. You have a reason for everything you do. Others might say “you have figured it out.” These intelligent people are NOT the opinionated or egocentric folks who don’t work in the construction industry. They are outsiders and don’t know our business. However, they are the smartest people in the country (just ask them).
As we respect many people in the industry for their logic, reason, intellect, and hard work regardless of title or wealth, we ourselves demonstrate the above. In our opinion, the respect of intelligent people gets to the core of professional success.
I won’t argue with Stevens’ perspectives here — though of course the value in this insight only occurs when you take things to the next level: Finding ways to associate, communicate, and earn the respect of intelligent people within the industry (and I would argue, from a marketing perspective) within your current and potential clients.
Obviously, it helps to do great work, and as Stevens argues elsewhere in his essay, be ready to compete against your own personal best — and to focus your energies on things you can control. However, Stevens focus on association with intelligent people leads to the second route to success; engaged, contributing and supporting leadership within the community and associations of relevant people. If your network includes leaders who have risen to significant accomplishments, and you are recognized as qualified and an expert in your field by them, you’ve achieved success — and undoubtedly you won’t have to work very hard to find clients for your business or services.