After studying over 500 millionaires in the early 1900s, including Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and Charles M. Schwab, journalist and author Napoleon Hill compiled his findings into one of the bestselling books of all time, “Think and Grow Rich.”
A common thread he noticed among the men he studied was their ability to cooperate with others — they were all likable.
“Success comes through the application of power, and power is attained through the cooperative efforts of other people,” he wrote.
It’s been 78 years since Hill published “Think and Grow Rich,” and his insight is still relevant, with updated terminology. Today, we like to use the terms “soft skills,” or a high level of “emotional intelligence,” which are considered critical to one’s success and to landing a job.
“Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as being the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack,” writes Dr. Travis Bradberry, coauthor of the bestseller, “Emotional Intelligence 2.0.””Emotional intelligence is the ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behaviour, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.”
When you are likable, charismatic, and make the effort to foster relationships with others, you build a network of people who are willing to help you without your asking.
On the flip side, the inability to cooperate can be detrimental to your success. Hill named it one of the “30 major causes of failure” that hold many of us back from succeeding and accumulating wealth. “Most people lose their positions and their big opportunities in life because of this fault than for all other reasons combined,” he warned. “It is a fault which no well-informed business man or leader will tolerate.”
Mark Cuban put it bluntly in an Entrepreneur article about the keys to being successful in business: “People hate dealing with people who are jerks. It’s always easier to be nice than to be a jerk. Don’t be a jerk.”
If you lack the people skills crucial to success, there’s no need to worry. It’s never too late to start developing emotional intelligence and anyone can master these imperative soft skills. Start small by being more aware of your surroundings, talking less and listening more, and arriving 10 to 15 minutes early to meetings.
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