01/07/2013 11:50 am ET Updated Mar 09, 2013

Prosperity Within Our Reach

The English politician and writer Benjamin Disraeli said more than a century ago:

The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.

His words describe very well how to be outstanding at what we do, and explain one of the main sources of an individual's prosperity and well-being.

Volumes have been written about success and economic prosperity. Unfortunately, many of those books aren't worth the paper they're written on. In many of them, the word "effort" doesn't even appear as a printer's mistake.

Malcolm Gladwell, currently one of the most widely read authors in the United States, devotes an entire book (Outliers: The Story of Success) to this topic. I don't completely agree with everything he writes there, but it is interesting how he shows us that you don't have to be a genius or have extraordinary abilities to be outstanding in any activity. Effort, on the other hand, is decisive.

Most successful people have middling levels of intelligence, but it's well balanced intelligence. It's curious to note that extreme rationality is sometimes a liability for becoming prosperous. Intelligence is an important value for Grupo Salinas, and we have to cultivate it. But this has little to do with any inherent quality.

In addition to intelligence, at our group, we're convinced that progress is a direct result of effort, excellence and other values like honesty, execution, learning, and teamwork.

From my point of view, one precondition for economic success is something that happens at home in childhood if we're lucky enough to grow up in a family with values and a tradition of effort, a family that transmits the belief that everything is possible if we try hard enough to get it. A good education is also important, to give us the tools and skills needed to add value to our day-to-day activities.

In addition, we have to develop our abilities tenaciously, and constantly strive for excellence in everything we do.

For example, Gladwell says that about 10,000 hours of dedicated practice in any important human endeavor, no matter how complex, turns us into experts. This is true for pianists, tennis players, pilots or mathematicians.

Finally, I think we have to have the vision needed to see opportunities as they present themselves and to work passionately to take advantage of them. This is a fundamental capability for any entrepreneur.

When we extend this way of thinking and acting, we can understand why some communities stand out. Many Eastern cultures, for example, emphasize personal effort. And in those countries people study and work many more hours a year than in the average Western society. Chinese peasants have a saying: "Nobody who works 360 days a year doesn't have a prosperous family."

History is full of examples of people who have contributed their effort to a better world, from Mozart to Warren Buffett, Henry Ford and many others.

We all want prosperity for our families and we know the steps for achieving it. It is in our hands to make it a reality.