The Three Engines Of Success

Internal engines exist that enable and drive success for individuals, leaders and businesses. Awareness and focus on these engines will deliver far greater and enduring results than would otherwise be achieved or possible. 


Over this season of December 2021 and January 2022, we are taking time out from our usual weekly newsletters and focusing in on the theme of Achievement. In this four-part series, I hope to be able to raise points for reflection that will enable greater achievement in your life, leadership and business.


Active Knowledge Question:

What underpins and delivers success in your life?


Mastery and Presence

The real potential within can only be drawn to the forefront through an enduring and focused effort to grow and continuously compound.  

Mastery is a lifelong discipline and practice in which you continually strive to refine and improve your skill and performance in a chosen field. 

Presence represents who you are and the impact that has on those around you, starting with yourself. 

The greatest investment you can make is to grow your presence continually. Not a presence reflected by ego, pride, arrogance or self-interest, but a presence that allows you to accomplish what you set out to achieve and to be able to enable others, including businesses, to do the same.

There are engines that you must master as individuals, leaders and business leaders if the real potential that exists is to be realised and applied. And ultimately, it will be your individual character that will determine whether you succeed.

The Individual

I believe there is a series of traits that allow a person to be ‘naturally’ far more successful than those who do not possess these traits. If you are aware and looking for them, you can readily recognise the traits, but more importantly, you can develop these traits within yourself. In combination, I call them the ‘Achiever Trait’.

The Achiever Trait describes the combination of characteristics that collectively represent the engine that underpins and drives the ability of any individual to be successful. Build the engine, strengthen its components, keep them well-tuned, and success will be your daily reward. And a life of enduring success will become effortless. 

The Achiever Trait consists of the core, the triad and the cloud

  • The core has an inner and outer ring. The inner ring is humility, while the outer ring is gratitude
  • The triad consists of three elements: body, words and beliefs. Together they build a strength within you that allows you to endure so that whatever goals you have set for yourself, you will be able to pursue and attain. The triad feeds and nurtures the core, and the core provides the foundation and fertile environment in which these elements may grow. 
  • The cloud represents your dreams, passions, imagination and the freedom you allow yourself to play with what is possible and what you would love to do in life. 

The article Conditioning Yourself To Succeed will unpack the Achiever Trait in more detail.

The Leader

Leaders enable others to bring their best to the forefront

When thinking about leadership, do not equate it to authority, as that leads to poor leadership standards. Instead, leadership is better thought of as responsibility

As a leader, you reside at the centre of the community seeking to draw everyone into your centre in a unified and organised way. You do not sit on top of a pyramid, with everyone stacked below you and looking up to you for instructions. You sit at the centre with everyone looking in. 

Worthy leadership is the single most important determinant of competitiveness and, therefore, the success of any business. Everything flows from leadership but note the emphasis on ‘worthy’. The ceiling to the success of any business lies in a leadership team’s level of worthiness, with the lowest dominator setting that ceiling. That is, the weakest leader sets the upper limit to success. 

If you were to work with a worthy leader, you would be working for someone who: 

  •     Invests themselves in uplifting you and bringing your talents to the forefront. 
  •     Places themselves last and seeks to serve the business and its customers first. 
  •     Recognises and rewards your talents. 
  •     Believes learning is important and creates a culture of continual learning. 
  •     Listens to you and your ideas. 
  •     Seeks to work with the best. 
  •     Doesn’t take themselves too seriously. 
  •     Takes failure in their stride and doesn’t seek to attribute blame to others. 
  •     Seeks to win your trust and support. 
  •     Has a positive attitude to life and comes to work with excitement for the day ahead. 
  •     Views everything through the lens of opportunity. 
  •     Gives thanks for their life. 

If a business has worthy leaders at its helm and throughout its ranks, it would be a business that attracted the best of the best, whom each gave everything they had every day to make the business an incredible success. It starts with choosing leaders upon their core character. 

The presence of worthy leaders in a business determines its success.

The article Enabling Leadership will unpack leadership in more detail.

The Business

Businesses exist to compete, and they compete around the value they are able to deliver against their customers’ needs. Their purpose is founded in that customer need, and their motive is to compete to their greatest potential. If they do this well, profit is one of the outcomes, but it is not purpose nor motive.

Innovation, agility, and adaptability are critical traits for any competitive business, but the real questions for any business leader are: 

  • Where do these traits come from? 
  • How do you build a business that continuously regenerates these traits and itself? 

Whether you recognise it or not, there exists within your business – a competitive engine that determines whether your business performs well or continuously trips over its own feet. 

It operates every moment of every day and influences every aspect of your business’s performance. Your every action impacts how this engine runs, again, whether you recognise it or not. The engine is formed the moment you begin to think about starting your business and continues for its entire lifespan. The engine sets the ceiling to the success of your business. 

The presence of the competitive engine and its strength determine a business’s success.

The article Building The Core Competitiveness Of Your Business will unpack the workings of the competitive engine in more detail.

It’s About Relationships And Trust 

Ultimately the impact (strength) of one’s presence at any level rests in the relationships they are able to build and the trust that emanates from those relationships.

Using business leadership as an example:

Once you begin to see your business and its competitiveness as ‘people’, the entire way you approach your business changes. You no longer look at charts and numbers but begin to view your business as a person. You realise that the future success of your business really depends on being able to muster the combined talent and effort of everyone. 

The competitive strength of your business becomes dependent on the relationships built by your leadership team with your employees – relationships of trust. 

Now that may sound challenging especially if you seek to achieve this outcome through the lens of profit-first, which often seeds relationships of conflict rather than trust. But build this relationship around the motive of competing, and the dynamics change dramatically. 

What does it mean to trust someone? 

Well, if you trust someone, you believe and have faith that they do and will act with your interests at the forefront. And that they will act with honesty and sincerity and will certainly not put their interests ahead of yours. 

That last statement is a big ask in today’s markets, where self-interest is often the expected norm of behaviour. I note this to highlight that building a relationship of trust is not an outcome that can be taken for granted. Ask many leaders, and they will say their employees can trust them. But trust them to do what? To place themselves first, the business second and, well, the employees… business is business. But this characterisation of trust will not yield the outcomes sought through the competitive engine. 

The article In Our Business Leaders, We Trust? will unpack trust in more detail.


Grow yourself as an individual, then as a leader and then as a business leader.


An entirely new level of performance.

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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel