The 9Cs of success

Success is the dream of everyone but the reality of a few. While it is possible for everyone to be successful, it is only those who are willing to put into practise the principles that engender success that prime themselves for success. Here are some of the success-enabling principles, all of which start with letter ‘C’.


The journey to success starts with conviction about a goal, a target or a dream. Conviction is the persuasion that a pursuit is worth the effort. Once the point of conviction is reached, energy is released, zeal is born and the goal comes within reach. For the unconvinced, dream often becomes hallucination, goal becomes fuzzy and vision turns out as a mirage. It is conviction that keeps the dream alive until it is achieved.

Many of the people who fail to accomplish set goals lack conviction about the necessity for those goals. They may desire those goals but they have not convinced themselves on why they need them. Because conviction is lacking, desire gets enervated and the energy supplied will be lower than the level required for the pursuit. But anyone who is able to convince himself on the rationale for a goal becomes unstoppable. He pursues the dream without losing enthusiasm in spite of the challenges encountered because in his mind’s eye, he already sees what its actualization promises.

Conviction is the harbinger of optimism. For as long as conviction is in place, optimism will be high. Every dream or goal holds a promise of great change, vista of opportunities, new heights, new beginnings, etc. For as long as the individual believes in the promises of the dream, optimism will remain high and no challenge is strong enough to sway him from its pursuit. But optimism gives way to pessimism and even sarcasm when a person no longer believes in the promises of a dream. If he no longer believes in the realization of the dream, he becomes flattened and loses optimism.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, so goes the saying. However, the stimulus for the tough to get going when it is unpopular or unattractive so to do is their conviction. Hence, success is not for the unconvinced; it is for those who are persuaded enough to stake their all for it.


To dream of success without confidence is to hallucinate.

Confidence is having a firm understanding of, and belief in, your ability and the value you can add to either your organization or your clients. It is not an overestimation of your capacity; that is arrogance. Neither is it an underestimation of the same; that would be poor self-esteem. It is an appropriate assessment of what you are capable of doing at a point in time. Without a proper evaluation of your ability, there cannot be an adequate estimation of your person. Confidence is critical to productivity because a lack of it drains an individual of energy and creativity. Skill without confidence is nothing. Talent that is devoid of confidence is a disaster. Lack of confidence robs an individual of passion and vigour and what could have been a masterpiece is turned in as an ordinary piece of work. Whoever is drained of confidence has the void filled with apathy and the effect is that he is able to achieve just a fraction of his installed capacity.

Confidence is hiked when an individual knows that he is a value-adding member of a group. Those who have low self-confidence are plagued by the thought that neither they nor their contributions amount to much. They think that everybody around them believes this. Consequently, they fail to bring themselves to the point of doing as much as they are capable of doing. Eventually, what they fear catches up with them because they come up with low productivity.

Without confidence, an individual may be unable to take the required decisions that will produce the desired results. Oftentimes, recording success requires taking risks, but it is only confident people, who not only believe in their own abilities but also in the abilities of those who work with them, that take risks that have the capacity of turning the tide in their favour. People who are deficient  in confidence try to play safe but those who play safe can only achieve known results; those who want to achieve what has never been accomplished must do what has never been contemplated. That is risk-taking and it requires confidence to take risks.


To be conscientious is to be achievement-driven. Conscientious people set goals and work painstakingly towards the realization of same. They are purposeful and intentional about important matters. They have utmost dedication to whatever cause they are pursuing. They are thorough; they do not leave anything to chance, rather they take responsibility for their actions and organize their activities in a manner that leaves no room for failure. Conscientious people are never satisfied with doing a good work; they keep pushing the envelope until they get the best result possible. They take their time to cross all t’s and dot all i’s. They pay so much attention to issues around them that they are more often than not able to anticipate problems before they arise and move to nip them in the bud.

Brent Roberts, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois, says, “Highly conscientious people do a series of things better than the rest of us.” He adds that these people plan to achieve their goals better: setting them, working towards them, and persisting amid setbacks. “If they realize that a highly ambitious goal cannot be reached, instead of getting discouraged and losing hope, they will switch to a goal that can be achieved.”

Writing in a similar vein in an article, Personality and Individual Differences, E.R. Thompson, says conscientious people exhibit a tendency for self-discipline and dutifulness. They carefully choose what to do and strive for achieving set goals. They display planned rather than spontaneous behaviour; and they are generally dependable.

The strength of conscientiousness is purposefulness. Purposefulness results in concentration of energy and when energy is concentrated on a task, success becomes a given.


Courage is essential to success. Without courage, the best a person can be is ordinary. It takes courage to run with a vision, it takes courage to rally people round the vision, it takes courage to be innovative, it takes courage to expand the market and it requires courage to venture into uncharted areas. Courage is necessary to steer an organization off a dead end into a new area, it takes courage to take tough decisions, it takes courage to stay the course when others are making a detour, it also takes courage to admit an error. So, without courage, nothing much gets done. That is why Aristotle posited that courage is the mother of all virtues because whatever good thing a person might want to do can only get done when courage is factored into it. Courage is the major ingredient for an exciting life; without it life is reduced to humdrum. Until a person is courageous, he cannot be effective and ineffective people don’t make the list of the great.

Weak people always wait on others to bell the cat. Ineffective individuals always willingly yield the ground for others to take the initiative. Great leaders blaze the trail. Success requires risk-taking. To succeed, one must develop what Jack Welch calls “the gut feeling”, the ability to sense the next big break before it becomes obvious. This enables one to make the right move before others notice the need for it.


Competence is a rung on the ladder that leads to success. Competence is magnetic because everyone wants to get close to a competent person so that they can find solutions to their problems.

Knowledge is the foundation for competence. The more the knowledge or information at the disposal of an individual, the more competent he becomes. Competence breeds confidence, which also produces courage. Anyone who is on top of the situation in his organization and abreast of development in his industry will be able to take well-informed decisions and reject injudicious counsel. A competent person will be able to challenge the status quo, try new things and tread where angels dread because of the information at his disposal. This was the secret of Steve Job’s success. He was at home with technology and he understood the trend. So, he was very often able to predict what the market wanted and developed completely new products that the market could not resist even when others were skeptical. His courage to try new things stemmed from his competence.

Competence is vital to success because everyone at one point or the other needs a solution to a problem. Anyone who consistently provides solution to the people will end up with the trophy of success.


As vital as candour is to success, it is a very scarce commodity because people would rather hold back the truth so as not to hurt others’ feelings than lay it bare. Holding back the truth so as not to make others feel bad is akin to lacing a poison with sugar and chocolate. While that may delay its sting, it cannot dull its effect.

Candour is being brutally honest with people. Many people find it difficult to travel this route because when hit with the truth, most people recoil and are likely to take offense. But unless people know what is wrong, they cannot do what is right. Unless they are confronted with the truth, they will continue doing what they have always done and continue to get the result they have always had.

Being candid is not about bringing down others, making them look ineffective, hurting or attacking them, it is showing them where they need to improve so that they can become better. Candour is about working to learn, grow and be more effective as a team. Without being candid with one another, neither learning nor effectiveness can take place and without the duo being in place, growth becomes difficult.

Candour helps both the leader and his team members to get better. Unless the leader gets to know the true position of the situation from his team members, his decisions will be defective. Similarly, the subordinates cannot get better unless the boss is brutally honest with his feedback to them. So, when an organization imbibes candour as its culture, the only way to go is up.

Jack Welch, former Chairman of General Electric, describes candour as the biggest dirty little secret in business. According to him, “the absence of candour is the single largest roadblock keeping companies from being effective.”

He adds that companies must build an environment in which candour is encouraged, rewarded and integrated into the organizational culture itself because without candour, organizations lose “idea capital” and valuable information. “And worst by far, they continue to build business upon the lies and falsehoods they tell themselves, a house of cards that will eventually fall.”


A strong character is a product of integrity. Integrity is adhering to the highest standards in all situations. Some people have different sets of standards for different situations; they have a standard of behaviour at work, they have a different set of rules at home, and other modes of behaviour for other settings. So, profiling such people is herculean because they manifest different traits under different conditions and that leads them into avoidable ethical issues. This cuts off the ground from under their feet for courageous acts.

Character is important because people deal with those who they trust. Even those who are not trustworthy always look for those they can trust to deal with. So, having an unimpeachable character makes it easy to achieve success.


Consistency is the room where greatness is conceived, shaped and birthed. Nothing of lasting significance is ever accomplished without consistency. Hence, as observed by Tony Robbins, an American businessman, it is not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It is what we do on a consistent basis. Every great athlete knows this. So does every outstanding artist, musician, engineer, footballer and entrepreneur. The more consistent a person is at executing a task, the more proficient he becomes at it. Consistency results in momentum which builds a powerful force in favour of the consistent.

Usually, failure is a consequence of consistent inconsistency. Aristotle said a person becomes what he repeatedly does, adding that excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. By inference, those who do not repeatedly do anything become nothing. This is simply because their inconsistency does not allow them to build impetus in a particular direction. The tide is never in their favour because each time they go off course only to come back later, they lose ground and are unable to keep the force. Invariably, they become a shadow of what they could have been.

Therefore, consistency is a prelude to success.


It was Albert Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again with the expectation of a different result. To get a new result, new things must be done.

Creativity comes into play when there are challenges. While some companies get stuck in problems, others get out and get better. The difference is the creativity they are able to bring into the situation.  So, when there is a problem, the best thing is to look at the situation from a different direction to have a new perspective of it and come up with a new strategy to handle it. As also said by Einstein, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” The fact is that every problem is a creation of a thinking. The thinking that produced the problem cannot also be the solution. Bouncing out of that situation requires a thinking that is different from the one that created it. But when there is no creativity that brings in a new thinking, people get overwhelmed and are consumed by the thinking that the challenge is insurmountable.

Last line

The destination for those who choose to walk the way of the 9Cs is success, nothing less, nothing else.



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