The Triple Path To Your Success

Bank vault doors, massive and impenetrable intrigue me. Blast resistant, fire and future-proof, the only chance of gaining access to the gold bars within is by entering a triple numerical code that deactivates the multi-cylinder locking mechanism behind their stainless steel cladding. Think about it: three correct components grant access to a fortune!

Many people believe that if they work hard, they’ll succeed. But drilling deeper in the same place doesn’t guarantee striking oil, especially if oil isn’t there. Hard work and good intentions are not enough. The reason is that success also embodies three core components: inspiration, competence, and market need.

Inspiration reflects passion and purpose. Competence combines education, experience, and expertise. Market need represents your ability to appeal to all those eager to pay you, in exchange for the unique value you create.

You may possess one or more of these components but unless you skillfully combine all three, success will be elusive. Why? Because success is at the precise junction where inspiration and competence meet market need. Would you like to know where you stand?

To assess the extent to which these three components overlap for you:

      1. Draw 3 separate lines for inspiration, competence, and market need.
      2. On a scale from 1-10 (1 is low, 10 is high) rank yourself.
      3. If you superimposed all 3 lines would your scores intersect at a single point?

Here’s how to interpret your scores and why I advocate this 3-part formula:

Market Need

One way or another, market need continues to evolve–it’s a constant that represents opportunity, with or without you. However, its opportunities do not become your success unless you harness them with skills and passion. On the contrary, if you’re excited about an idea but no one else is, you will fail because the market isn’t there.


This is where the rubber meets the road since the market buys expertise. Yet competence alone isn’t king. For example, a bank teller may score high in math skills and be adept at using a keyboard, but this doesn’t say whether he/she can do repetitive work on a job 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and 226 days a year. Nor does it indicate what he/she really believes about the importance of customers. If your score is low, the good news is you can always add new skills to your talent bank, and should be doing so anyway.


If your score is low you may as well stop right there, as you cannot be successful in this particular endeavor. Passion has strategic value. It trumps competence. As the legacy of Steve Jobs demonstrates, it can create market need. You can acquire skills training but passion is intrinsic.

Inspiration contains the classified motive that fuels the inner drive, direction, and determination to achieve your highest and farthest aims. There is no substitute for what deeply inspires you to go beyond the call of duty. If your score is high, exploit talent and market need to monetize your passion.
Your fortune is stored in a vault. Inspiration, competence, and market need represent the combination to the vault of your personal success. If you get them right, the vault opens; if they are not right, you need the combination that works for YOU. Let inspiration lead the path to your success.

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