Friday, June 28, 2013

Tips on Being Successful in Whatever Endeavor You Choose to Take

I want to share with you a few tips on being successful. I want to take about this because I feel it's important and helpful, and it applies in every walk of life. My tips focus on three things that you need to be successful: Passion, Proactivity, and Positivity. These 3Ps are necessary for you to excel at whatever you do, as I pointed out in a YouTube video that I published recently.

Tip # 1: Passion

First, let's talk about passion for what you do. By passion, I mean that you must love what you're doing in order to be great at it. One of the reasons I do well in my PhD studies is that I love my research in antenna arrays, genetic algorithms, etc. I also love to build hardware and develop algorithms for optimizing that hardware. In addition, I really enjoy reading books and papers related to antennas, antenna arrays, and optimization algorithms. Do you see a key theme here? I love what I do, and I take ownership of my work exactly because I want to see it through from beginning to its end. You could look at the flip side of this argument: If you don't love what you do, you won't want to put all of your efforts into it. It's as simple as that.

Tip # 2: Being Proactive

Second, you've got to be proactive. This applies in every day situations in every walk of life. You've got to get the ball rolling and keep it moving. What do I mean by that? You've got to figure out the tasks that you need to accomplish in order to be successful no matter how you define success, and you need to keep on top of those things until you've finished the tasks at hand. In my situation, I've got to do my research (reading, experiments, etc.), write grant proposals, write my thesis, and follow up with my advisor. I've got to do the work, as it is my responsibility  If you're heading up a small business, you must lead and delegate tasks as necessary of course. However, you need to figure out what tasks need to be delegated, and you need to decide to whom you'll give those tasks. Yes, your employees should and will ask you for guidance, and they will also follow up with you. However, you will often need to start the process yourself and communicate clearly what you need them to do, and how they can help the company succeed. Encourage your employees to be proactive too, as it will make things go more smoothly. Problems can occur in any business, class project, or graduate project. All of your team members (including you) need to be aware of the problems and be actively working to solve them. Problems do not solve themselves.

Tip # 3: Applying Positivity in Your Life

Third, you need to think positively. I'm not referring to some kind of mystical belief that if you think positive things over and over again, you would be bound to succeed. I am referring to positivity in a motivational sense in that you need to believe that your efforts are worthwhile. If you don't believe that your efforts will lead to success (i.e., good test results, good grades, profits, etc.), you'll stop putting efforts. After all, why waste your energy on things that you don't believe will bring you success. Of course, this is different than analyzing your efforts and removing things that don't work. Not only are you still putting your efforts into your project, you're refocusing your efforts in a way that will bring better results. The act of refocusing your efforts is a positive one, and it is completely different than putting a complete stop to your efforts, as the latter is equivalent to shutting down your business or quitting whatever project you started.


I believe that I can be successful. Of course, I don't expect myself to be successful all the time, as I have certainly had my fair share of failures, and I'm sure than everyone I meet has had failures in their lives too. It's unreasonable to expect yourself to be successful all of the time. It's OK to fail, as failure gives us opportunities to learn from our mistakes, become better persons, and figure out what to do (or what not to do) the next time we take on a new project. As long as we focus on the 3Ps (passion, proactivity, positivity), we will be successful more often than not. After all, as long as you can say that you've succeeded at times, you cannot claim that your life was a total waste of time and efforts. Reflect on your success and learn from your failures.


Jonathan Becker
ECE PhD Candidate
Carnegie Mellon University

P.S. Don't forget to enjoy life. Go out and have some fun. Whenever I'm down, that helps me out a lot.

Pan's Fountain in Pittsburgh. Don't Forget to Enjoy Life! (Copyright Jonathan Becker)