“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” – Bill Cosby

Your success has a lot to do with people: the partners, employees, consultants, and vendors you choose to help you build your dream. If you are careful in choosing the individuals who populate your business world, everything will be better. Faster. Easier. Cheaper. A modernist recipe for happiness.

Since today is Action Tuesday, take a few minutes now to make an inventory of the top 10 to 20 individuals in your business life. Include partners, supervisors, colleagues, vendors, consultants, and key employees.

Then, rate each of them on a five-point scale (one being weak, five being excellent) according to the following questions:

1. Is he good at what he does?

2. Is he learning and improving?

3. Is he open and sharing?

There may be other considerations that matter, but I can’t think of any right now. In making this list, I eliminated the following considerations as being irrelevant when you rate your people:

* Do they like you?

* Do you like them?

* Can you trust them?

* Are they supportive of your goals?

* Are they competitive with you?

At some future time, we’ll talk about why it’s such a big mistake to worry about these “irrelevant” considerations. I’ll tell you stories of bright and promising careers that have been hampered, stalled, or even thwarted by doing so.

Today, let’s focus on the positive. Make your list. Do your ratings. And then spend some relaxed time thinking about it. What you want, of course, is to have your career supported by as many high scorers (those with a combined score of 12 or more points) as possible.

I just did it myself. Here’s what happened.

First, I discovered that I have more people in my life who depend on me than vice versa. Because I work with them and care about them deeply, they made it to the list. But when I asked the tough questions, I realized my mistake. I had to remind myself that the list is about people I depend on to build my career, not those I want to help. (That said, there are plenty who fit into both categories.)

Second, I had trouble keeping my list to 20. That shows something — probably about my various manias.

Third, of those rated, only two scored a perfect 15 points. Nine scored 12 points. And nine scored nine points. None scored below that. The implications are fairly obvious. I’m going to have to make a few changes.

I know this seems bizarre, anal-retentive, and inhumane, but so what? Do it! You’ll be surprised — maybe even shocked — at what you discover. If you can recognize that certain changes are needed — and make them –you could make the goals you choose come with less expense, more ease, and much more speed.

By the way, I found I had to constantly remind myself to stick to the three questions only to keep those “irrelevant” considerations from creeping into my thinking.

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