Nearly a half-century ago, I was told, “It’s what you know that matters, so learn all you can.” And I did (well, at least until I was in high school).
When I started my career in sales, I was told, “It’s who you know that matters, so meet as many people as you can.” And I did (although I didn’t’ really care much about who I met).
Sometime in my thirties, I was told, “No, It’s not who you know, but more importantly, who the people you know happen to know. Get to the second level of the relationship.” So I did, I met people who knew people I knew. This was my first clue.
Then, later in life, I was told, “Look, it doesn’t matter who you know, what really matters is who knows you. You’ve got to get people to know you.” So I did. I self-promoted and got people to know me. This was my second clue.
But then I was told, “Look, it’s really not about any one thing. It’s about everything. It’s about what you know, who you know, who the people you know happen to know, and who knows you. That’s the secret to success.” So I put it all together. I focused on all of it.
And I came to realize, what really matters is what you do with what you know, who you know, who the people you know happen to know, and who knows you.
It’s all about action. It’s all about execution. The clues were, “take some action”.
It really doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest, best connected, best connector, and the best known. If you do nothing, you’ll get nothing.
And those who know little, know only a few, and have only a few know them but take action will lap you over and over.
You’ve got to take action with and on the assets you have.
That’s what really matters in success.