Working Inside the Circle of Success

Quote of the Week

“Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.”

— Reggie Leach

Working Inside the Circle of Success

by Michael Neill

A few months ago, I was sitting in a seminar when a sales trainer drew a circle on a flipchart.

“What is the most important activity in sales?” the trainer asked.

Someone called out “Building your network”, and the sales trainer put an ‘x’ outside the circle.

Another person said “Putting together strong support materials”, and another ‘x’ appeared outside the circle.

More answers came from around the room.

“Building a ‘sticky’ website.”



Finally, someone called out “Making sales calls?”

The trainer paused, but then he placed another ‘x’ outside the circle.

The room went quiet as we tried to figure out what it might be. Then the person who had called out “making sales calls” tried again. “Having selling conversations!”

The trainer put a great big ‘check’ inside the circle, and then explained.

“While any of the things outside the circle may be useful, in most sales environments, no sales get made without a one on one conversation between the salesperson and the buyer, even if that conversation is just to conclude the transaction after a decision has been made. Therefore, the most important thing for you to track if you want to be successful in sales is the number of sales conversations you are having.”

On reflection, I realized that the principle behind this sales trainer’s “circle of success” for selling held true in almost any area of business, creativity or life, and could always be found in the answer to this question:

In this area, what is the key activity which MUST happen in order for a successful result to be achieved?

A little bit later I was talking to a brilliant man who was struggling with the idea of writing a book. I drew a circle up on the board and asked him “what is the one thing which HAS to happen in order for your book to be completed?”

He began listing a number of things like “doing the research”, “creating an outline”, and “developing the premise”. I put three ‘x’s outside the circle and asked him the question a little bit differently:

“What is the one activity without which it is impossible for you to complete this book?”

He looked puzzled for a moment and then the light dawned.

“I need to actually write it.”

That gave us our “magic formula” for successful writing – to spend as much time as possible “inside the circle” – in this case, actually writing pages of his book.

I have since introduced this idea to a number of clients in a variety of professions, and the result is remarkably consistent – when you identify the core activity that will lead to a successful outcome and then work consistently “inside the circle” on that activity, a successful outcome is sure to follow.

Have fun, learn heaps, and work inside the circle of success!

Copyright (c) 2009 Michael Neill, author of ‘You Can Have What Your Want’. All rights reserved – read more tips at

Coaching Call to Action

1. Choose an area of your work or life to explore

    Examples: financial management, relationships, widget production, etc.

2. Ask yourself this question: “What is the one activity without which a successful result in this area is virtually impossible?”

    Examples: In order to successfully manage your finances (at any level of success or business complexity), the three things you MUST track are what you currently have, what is coming in, and what is going out. While there are many other things you can usefully pay attention to, without those three you simply cannot get a clear financial picture.
      In order to create and maintain a wonderful relationship, you MUST connect with that person in some way. No connection, no relationship.

If you are struggling with this, you may like to go through it with a colleague or group of colleagues, as sometimes the obvious answer is the most elusive one. You can also ask for help from our wonderful community of coaches and friends at the Genius Catalyst Forums.

3. Begin to focus on working and tracking that one core activity until you have successfully reached your target or outcome.