As most age-old questions go, the answer isn’t black and white, and more than likely lies somewhere in that gray area. But no matter where you come from, you can make the most of what you have by not letting what you can’t do interfere with what you can do. 

Successful business people clearly have an ability to effectively court the opportunities and relationships that they want in their lives, and when observed closely, they do seem to use similar strategies and principles in their individual pursuits.

Below are some general principles that you can apply to both your personal and professional endeavors. Whether you’re looking to land that dream job, impress an important client, or enter into an amazing personal relationship, following these principles will help you to discover the opportunities that you need in order to make it happen.

The Art of Pursuit

Pursuit, for all intents and purposes, is the sum total of observation, assessment, and calibration. Any good pursuit begins with doing your due diligence. You must be intimately familiar with your own goals before you can hope to achieve them.

For example, if you see a company that you want to work for, learn as much as you can about the company’s history, current status, and future goals. This knowledge will give you credibility as you engage with the company and its network throughout the interview process and beyond. Develop in your mind a strong mental foundation that will serve as your base to build upwards for the rest of your plan.  Many candidates fail to effectively show that they've taken the time to put forth the effort to know what they need to know about the company that they want to work for. They may come into the interview not knowing much about the organization or being able to sufficiently explain why they want to work for the company. This is not a good strategy and will immediately put you at a disadvantage in comparison to others in the application pool.

The Impact of Energy

Confidence of success is almost success.

This line was borrowed from a fortune cookie that I received in a Chinese restaurant. I found it to be particularly relevant to me, so I ended up keeping it on my desk so I see it every once in a while.

Confidence and positive energy go hand-in-hand. A person’s energy impacts their mind, both consciously and subconsciously, in profound ways. That energy is conveyed in everything about their being, and that energy has a profound impact on every human being they then come into contact with. You’ll notice that many of the people we see as being fortunate share this common trait: they are confident in themselves and their mission, and that belief allows other people to feel drawn to believing in them as well.

Confidence is not just a feeling, but rather reflects on our internal, core perceptions of ourselves — specifically, our value and competence as human beings. Confidence is a self-fulfilling prophecy. To become a more confident person, you cannot continue to do what you’re already doing; something has to change.

Even the world’s best public speakers did not come out of the womb knowing how to speak. They challenged themselves, took risks, and got scared. But instead of backing away from uncomfortable opportunities, they walked into them, fear and all.

Conversely, those who live with self-doubt also form a self-fulfilling prophecy with their internal negativity. Many times, they blame outside forces or factors. We know that outside factors are inherently out of our control, so by placing blame there, this prevents us from ever truly progressing to a healthier state.

Leaders are normal people who seize opportunity. You’ll gain expertise only when you step confidently into new territory. Act confident to become confident. Eventually, the more we practice this concept, the better and more confident we become. We all have fear, and we all have goals to achieve. It’s ultimately our choice which one we allow to come out on top in the end.

Another important key to confidence is remembering to take care of yourself. If a sports team fails to nourish and support its star players, it shouldn’t expect to win any championships. Likewise, if you’re not taking time to nurture the person who looks back at you in the mirror, then it will be more than you who will suffer. By taking the time to nourish your body and accurately know who you are, your energy and confidence will increase, preparing you for more joy in your professional and personal relationships alike.

It's Okay to Surrender

Nothing in life is set-it-and-forget-it. Take the time to re-evaluate every so often, not just on progress towards achieving your goals but also whether your goal is still relevant to your long-term strategies. Surrender those that are outdated or no longer relevant.

During the first few months of any new engagement, it’s essential to be aware of your larger-scale needs and goals. If an engagement, or even a personal relationship for that matter, is draining your energy early on - it's not likely to lead to long-term prosperity and the achievement of your primary larger goals down the road.

Never, ever ignore the red flags. Everyone has made this mistake at some point in their lives, so if you've already ignored the red flags and don't have a way to turn back - don't fret. Carry on as you were. However, if you do have the opportunity to see the red flags and make changes - don't procrastinate acting on the new information. Your time is one of your most precious resources. Ensure that you’re getting what you need from all engagements, and ensure that those engagements are actually adding value and positive energy to your life.

In order to have the greatest impact on the world, we must guard our energy and keep an eye on how it is spent and how it is replenished.

Be the Catalyst to Your Success

To achieve success in personal and professional relationships, define what success is. Then, bend the world to match that definition. 

Let’s say you started a new career. After the first few months, you’ve decided you like the team and organization, and you want to continue to invest in the opportunity. In this case, you should take some time to identify where you’d like to be one year from now. With these goals in mind, you should have professional and on-going dialogue about your vision with your superiors. A good leader will enable your success and help you to unlock your potential. If it's you who is in a leadership role, then you should be looking for these clues from your subordinates and helping them to add value to your team.

Define success in your own terms, then actively drive others towards that definition of success.

You Get What You Give

In a highly interconnected world, the foundation you build today will define your success tomorrow. Look for ways to provide value to everyone you can on a daily basis. These actions, if consistent, become behaviors which are highly desirable and never go unnoticed forever. People who create value for others accumulate goodwill and respectability. That goodwill and respectability translates into introductions, which help you to build your network over time. Your network, in turn, opens the door for more introductions and opportunities for you to pursue.

As social media blurs the line between our personal and public lives, reputation is more important now than ever before. Honesty and respect are what most people want in both personal and professional relationships, so in order to get it, we must be ready and willing to give it.

In Conclusion

Success typically builds upon success. Your confidence is key in aligning others to work towards your goals. Don't be afraid to trim off the bad in order to keep the good; every tree eventually needs to be pruned in order to produce the best fruits. Your reputation means more now than ever before; be the same person online that you are in person, and always pursue honesty in all of your endeavors in order to gain respect.