3-Tier Pyramid of Success
Elite Sales Institute, Copyright 2016

Our lives are full of situations, challenges and opportunities. How, and how well, we handle each will determine where on the scale of life’s winners and losers we fall.

There is a fantastic saying, “Everyone is born ignorant. If you die that way, it’s your fault!”. This is a variation on the theory that where you are today is the sum total of all the decisions you’ve made in life: good, bad, and no decisions at all!

Too many times we get caught wasting energy, focusing on situations where we ultimately have no control. When we limit energy wasting situations and direct that focus towards opportunities and challenges we do control, breakthroughs happen.

The 3-Tier Pyramid is the map to that breakthrough.

Far more than a “to-do list organizer”, the pyramid is a way of differentiating the importance of any given challenge and assigning the appropriate level of effort attention and energy.

Imagine a pyramid that is broken into three separate tiers: a very large base, which we will call Tier 3. the mid-size, medium level, Tier 2. And at the top, Tier 1.

As I explain the purpose of each pyramid, think about the real implications and application of these tiers:

– Tier 1 will contain every situation, opportunity, etc. that you actually control.

– Tier 2 will contain every challenge, activity, etc. that you can influence.

– Tier 3 will contain everything that you neither control nor influence, making this the largest tier.

To illustrate the power of the Pyramid, let’s examine a common challenge in our lives: traffic during the morning commute.


Tier 1 Question: Do I control this traffic?
Even the most self-assured people will need to concede that there is no part of “traffic” that an individual can control. So the answer to the tear one question is “no”.

Tier 2 Question: Can I exert influence over this traffic?
While there are things that you can do to influence the flow of traffic in your immediate area (apply the brakes, react quickly when the cars ahead of you move, use turn indicators when changing lanes), once again the real answer to this question is “no”.

Because you cannot control “traffic”, nor can you influence “traffic”, then according to our Pyramid, “traffic” falls to a Tier 3 situation. As such, there’s no need to give energy or focus to it.

I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, “But I can either get up earlier to get out in front of the traffic or change my schedule to drive later when the traffic dies down.” I will agree with you wholeheartedly, and then challenge you to examine your observations.

You looked at the situation (traffic) and determined you don’t control it. In your pushback you listed two things that you actually do – and should – control: the time you wake up and your morning schedule!

Lets look at a more complex scenario: You are put in charge of a multi-phase project at work.


Obviously, you cannot do all of the work involved, so you will need to identify and empower team leaders, assign specific tasks, keep your team focused and motivated, hold them accountable for their responsibilities and keep those higher up the chain informed of progresses and delays. Recognizing which of these tasks are Tier 1 and which are Tier 2 will show you where to focus your energy, where to step back and what to avoid.

This, in a nutshell, is the power of the 3-Tier Pyramid:
Recognizing Tier 1 contains the only thing you actually control: YOURSELF. The people and situations you can influence – family, coworkers, etc. – fall into Tier 2. Everything and everybody else falls down to Tier 3 – the things you neither control nor influence.

Examine your day yesterday. How much energy did you give to Tier 3 items/situations? If you engaged in any type of social media argument, spent any time discussing office rumors, or wondered what so-and-so will be wearing to the awards show, you were wallowing in Tier 3!

Now imagine how your day could have gone had you REDIRECTED even half of the time, effort, energy and focus you put on the Tier 3 activities to your Tier 1 and 2 situations!

Try it today, using yesterday as a road map. Make a quick list of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 opportunities and keep them handy.

When you encounter any of yesterday’s Tier 3 items/issues, turn your energy to your list and use that excess energy and effort to do your best work on those items you influence and control… and enjoy the results!

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