The 7 Key Distinctions Successful People Make Everyday

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A distinction is the realization of an important difference between two ideas, concepts, or people, thus significantly increasing our understanding of a situation, problem, or person. In my book The Seventh Distinction,I introduce seven important distinctions regarding human individuality, human organizations, and the world as a whole. These distinctions help us better understand our daily challenges by providing us with a clearer picture of the world within us and around us. By the same token, these distinctions also provide us with seven powerful keys to help us overcome our challenges and be successful.

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Here is a summary of the seven distinctions and their respective keys to success.

DISTINCTION 1: Complexity vs. Complication / KEY 1: Simplicity

  • Complexity is an intrinsic trait of the world in which we live. Every situation, problem, and person is complex by design. This is because they are all interconnected, either directly or indirectly, with the world around them, thus constantly engendering change in diverse patterns. Complexity is unavoidable.
  • Complication is the first piece of evidence that the complexity of a situation, problem, or person has been misunderstood and dealt with inappropriately. A complication is, in fact, the very definition of a problem.
  • Simplicity is the result of properly understanding the underlying complexity of an issue and dealing with it effectively, thus achieving the desired objective successfully.

DISTINCTION 2: Understanding vs. Learning / KEY 2: Evolution

  • Understanding is the capacity to break down reality into its fundamental components and describe the patterns of interaction among them.
  • While understanding happens in the mind, learning happens in the entirety of a person (mind, heart, and body.) While understanding translates into new knowledge, learning translates into new behaviors.
  • Evolution is the ability to understand ourselves and the world around us in ways that make us behave more constructively towards each other and our environment, thus creating more sustainable organizations, societies, and markets.

DISTINCTION 3: Management vs. Influence / KEY 3: Leadership

  • Management is the ability to achieve the objectives in sight by efficiently using the available resources. In this regard, the manager must envision and implement a feasible strategy; design and execute the necessary processes; and design and assemble the necessary structure.
  • Influence is the ability to help others summon higher levels of enthusiasm and commitment in the pursuit of the sought objective.
  • Leadership is much more complex than management and influence taken separately. Leadership is a personality profile that combines the skill set of good management and the ability to influence others in ways that strengthen the operation.

DISTINCTION 4: Talent vs. Personality / KEY 4: Competency

  • Talent is the capability to perform a task by executing specific actions or displaying specific behaviors.
  • Personality is a far more complex component of the human condition. Personality is the launching platform of talents. Without the right personality, most talents would fail to even manifest.
  • Competencies, which make us competent and competitive at what we do, result from channeling our talents through the amplifying and targeting effects of our personality.

DISTINCTION 5: Ambition vs. Mission / KEY 5: Vision

  • An ambition is the desire to achieve something for the sake of personal benefit, usually disregarding its potential consequences on others.
  • A mission, however, is the desire to achieve something for the sake of collective benefit, usually including the self.
  • A vision is, more than an image of the future, a worldview that allows us to learn from the past and act in the present in order to build a better future. When our vision relies solely on ambition, our ego keeps us from learning key lessons from our past that would allow us to build a better, more sustainable future. However, when our vision relies on a mission, our ego is kept in check mate allowing true humility to open our minds to new and higher levels of understanding. This puts us in a better position to learn key lessons from our past in order to build a better future for ourselves and those around us.

DISTINCTION 6: Obligation vs. Conviction / KEY 6: Principle

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  • Obligations are actions people take in order to gain someone else’s approval or to comply with cultural, religious, or political conventions in order to facilitate social adaptation.
  • Convictions are actions people take in order to achieve a personal objective and pursue self-realization.
  • A principle is a personal value that reaffirms one’s right to achieve self-realization while acknowledging and protecting the right of others to do the same. Principles translate into peaceful, constructive, and sustainable coexistence among people. This way, convictions and obligations are merged into powerful references for action that are feasible for everyone.

DISTINCTION 7: Ego vs. Self / KEY 7: Consciousness

  • The ego is the apparent, synthetic self that we show to others in order to gain their approval. It starts to develop as soon as we are born, maybe even earlier in our mother’s womb. Since its only purpose is to help us adapt to the world around us, we are programmed to engineer our egos on the basis of other people’s expectations.
  • The self is that inner voice that tells us that we are something other than our ego. The self is a sense of individual awareness that allows us to see ourselves beyond other people’s expectations.
  • Consciousness is the acknowledgement and development of our inner self as we learn to manage our ego in our relationships with others.

Distinction number seven, Ego vs. Self, is the pivot that allows for the clear realization of the other distinctions. Ergo,consciousness is the key to master all the other keys to success.

For more information about the seven distinctions and their respective keys to success, including examples, common misconceptions, and practical applications for life and business, you may purchase my book The Seventh Distinction: The Path to Personal Mastery, Leadership & Peak Performance (available in paperback and kindle) by clicking on the image below.

What do you think?

Do the seven distinctions make a difference in the way you will look at yourself and those around you from now on? Do the seven keys to success serve as a useful reference to pursue success in life and business? Does your team know the seven distinctions and their implications? Does your team use the seven keys to success?


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