Everyone wants to be successful. But most people do not believe that success is attainable. So, they offer excuses for why success has eluded them. Excuses such as bad luck, lack of sufficient funds, too old, or too young. What is worse, these same people will gladly give you multiple reasons why you will never become successful, either. When you face this negativity, do not be discouraged. Instead, take a long look at the person. Are they living the life you want to live? Probably not. So, take their negativity and use it as your motivation to prove them wrong. Do not let them rob you of your dreams. Finally, remember that you are a product of the company you keep. If you desire to be successful, surround yourself with amazing people. Find other like-minded people with dreams of their own. And build each other up with encouragement.
Fear keeps you from acting. Ask yourself this one question, “What would I do if I were not afraid?” See how fear is keeping you from doing what you really want? See how debilitating fear can really be? Fear keeps people from speaking when they want to speak. Fear keeps people from deciding when they need to decide. Fear keeps people from achieving what they want in life. Don’t let anyone tell you your fears are in your mind. Your fears are not a product of your imagination. They are real. And unless you learn to conquer your fears, you will never achieve the success that you desire. The cure for fear is action. So, decide today what you most fear. And then decide what is the best action to conquer this fear. Then, act. Do what you need to do to achieve what you want to achieve.
The amount of success you achieve is directly proportional to the size of your thoughts. If you believe you will be a small success, you will achieve small successes. But big thoughts lead to big ideas. Big thoughts lead to big solutions. Big thoughts lead to big successes. Simply put, if you believe that you can do it, you will. If you believe that you cannot, then you will not. Believing big will not guarantee you a 100% success rate in life. We all fail. But you believe in yourself. So, you have the confidence to try again after stumbling. You have the wherewithal to keep trying. Because you know you are not a failure. You try again, and your belief and positive thoughts lead to finding the solutions you need. Your obstacles become your opportunities. Choose greatness. Have big ideas and believe that you can achieve them.
One can measure the quality of a leader by their accomplishments. Real leaders produce results. Those who are unable to produce results are not really leading. And yet, sometimes the results of a leader’s actions are not always known. Because sometimes, the best course of action is taken in private, behind the scenes. Not because a great leader must be sneaky or manipulative. On the contrary, the best leaders often act with a disinterest in public credit for their achievements. The primary goal of a great leader is the greater good of the organization. They are more interested in advancing their team than in their personal achievements. So they unselfishly lead their organizations, giving credit to the entire team when an achievement is known. They know that sometimes an achievement is reached that only they can appreciate.
Nelson Mandela believed education could make anyone succeed. “It is through education that… a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation.” Want to know how to succeed? Seek out every opportunity to improve your self. Dedicate yourself to a lifetime of growth and personal learning. Your success is driven in part by everyday opportunities to learn. So, never shun the opportunity to learn something new. You never know when a new skill will open a door to a new possibility. Or maybe open a door to the opportunity to learn even more. Just look at how successful people spend their time reading and learning in subjects far beyond their field. Fortunately for us today, learning opportunities abound. Take an online class, listen to a podcast. Seek out the opportunity to learn something new today. You never know where your knowledge will take you tomorrow.
Everyone has told fibs, half-truths, and white lies. Especially when we were younger, when experience had not had the opportunity to teach us the dangers of omitting the truth. And fear took over our better judgment. Now that we are adults, we should shed these childhood habits and embrace the whole truth as the only way to deal with others. Because the only way to be successful is to treat everyone you meet with respect. And respect dictates that you are truthful with others. In contrast, falsehood represents a contempt for others. It shows that others cannot be bothered with, do not deserve, or cannot be trusted with the entire truth. Long lasting, deep relationships are never built on falsehood. So, the next time life confronts you with the temptation to skirt the truth, remember that only the truth will lead you to a lifetime of success.
When you are confronted with the complexities of life, it is important to seek out the advice of experts. And the more successful you become, the more you will need to rely on these experts to make your most important decisions. Some of these experts may become team members for your organization, giving your company valuable skills beyond what you are able to provide. Others will remain outside of your organization, giving you valuable personal advice for navigating the many issues that come from living a successful life. Whether you need an estate plan, year-end tax planning, or a personal financial plan, it is important to build your personal team of experts to help you make the best decisions for your life. No one can be an expert in all fields. So, do not try to be one. Surround yourself with great people, and great things will occur.
I often tell my clients success begets success. It’s like Jim Collins’ metaphor of the flywheel. It takes a lot of effort to get the flywheel moving. But once it starts, it keeps moving faster and easier. The problem successful people run into is believing that they can be successful in multiple industries. An entrepreneur starts a business and becomes very successful. So, they decide to start a new business in a completely different industry. And they do this while continuing to run their first business. Because in their heart of hearts, they know that their success is due solely to their business skills. Even if that is the case, the skills that brought on their success may not transfer to a new industry. Instead, stay focused on what brought on your success. Many other opportunities will come your way. Do not assume you will always hit a home run.
Sam Walton was passionate about retail. His passion drove him to create a great company and to achieve unimaginable personal success during his lifetime. No matter where he was working at the time, whether it was for J.C. Penney, as a Ben Franklin franchisee, or as the founder of Wal-Mart, Sam Walton always strived to be the best. Because when you are passionate about your work, you want to be the best. No one can deny the success that Sam Walton achieved. And I do not think anyone can say that Sam Walton’s success was a result of personal circumstances or a lucky break. Sam Walton was just simply a constant competitor driven by a great passion for what he was doing. You may not reach such financial heights by following your passion. But one thing is certain, you will certainly not be successful unless you follow your passion.
Like it or not, work is one of the few things that gives life meaning. You cannot possibly expect your life to have much meaning unless you are doing something that you love and care about. And if you are doing something that you love and care about, how can you aspire to just be good? If all you want is to be good enough, then you are not doing the work that you need to do. You need to be doing something that you have the possibility of becoming great at. And if your work is simply not a possibility, then you need to become involved with something that you are passionate about. Something that you can help to make great. So why are you going to spend your working years – the best years of your life – doing something that you do not love?
Those who adorn rose-colored glasses are destined to live a life below their fullest possibility. Why? Because the ability to see things as they really are and face the brutal facts is necessary to make a good decision. And yet one good decision is never enough to achieve the success that you so desire. People and organizations become successful by not making just one good decision but by making a series of good decisions. This succession of good decisions builds upon each other, accelerating you on your success journey. Even if you do not always make good decisions, bad decisions will not be detrimental, as long as you truly accept and understand the brutal facts. How do you get the brutal facts? Surround yourself with honest people. And create an environment where those people respect you and know that you desire their brutal honesty.
Some people are in the right place at the right time. Others, not so much. Those unfortunate enough not to be in the right place at the right time are destined for mediocrity and failure. That is how most people see the world. But is that reality? Certainly not. Yes, we observe people who achieve monumental greatness due to their circumstances. Think about the Industrialists of the 1800s or the Technologists of the late 20th Century. Yes, they were born at a time where they would have a significant advantage in these emerging industries over those slightly older or younger than themselves. But so were a lot of other people. The difference? They chose greatness. They chose a life of hard work, constant learning and improvement, and sacrifice. That’s reality. So, instead of lamenting your personal circumstances, remember you have the power to choose greatness.
Knowing your purpose keeps you energized. It motivates you to develop your vision, to push through adversity, and to work through failures. Living a successful life without knowing your purpose is impossible. Your purpose keeps you grounded. It keeps you centered. It keeps you facing the right direction on your life’s journey. And it should be shared. Because you will never truly lead and you will never truly affect those around you without sharing your life’s purpose with them. It is all about leading with heart. Finally, remember that you cannot find your purpose by looking at the world around you. Your purpose is found within. And no, your purpose should not be to make lots of money. You will have to dig down deeper than that.
The people you surround yourself with have a significant impact on your long-term success. If you surround yourself with negative people, you will become negative. And a negative attitude guarantees a life of disappointment. Instead, surround yourself with positive people. Chances are, you already have some people in your life who radiate positive emotions. People that you enjoy being around. People who lift up your spirits. People who are genuinely concerned for your well-being. These are the people that you need on your team. Wherever you need support, whether at home, at work, or at church, build a team of positive people. Support one another, listen to one another, encourage one another. And most importantly, acknowledge your teammates when you have a big win in your life. Because no one succeeds alone.
You have goals, and you know exactly what you need to do to accomplish them. This knowledge puts you ahead of most of the world. But you are never going to accomplish your goals if you never begin. Franklin was right. Most people do not know what is best for them. Those who do have a difficult time doing what is in their best interest. Whatever it is that is keeping you from beginning, get over it. Waiting for the perfect time, the proper motivation, or the positive attitude is just that. Waiting. Instead, press on towards your goal. Pursue your dreams. Start today.