Ask successful people how they achieved their success and you’ll hear words like “hard work,” “sacrifice,” and “persistence.” Dig a little deeper and you’ll find some other common attitudes and habits, like these:
1. They know their success was only inevitable in hindsight.
Read stories of successful entrepreneurs and it’s easy to think they have some intangible entrepreneurial something–ideas, talent, drive, skills, creativity, whatever–that you don’t have.
Wrong. Success is inevitable only in hindsight. It’s easy to look back on an entrepreneurial path to greatness and assume that every vision was clear, every plan was perfect, every step was executed flawlessly, and tremendous success was a foregone conclusion.
It wasn’t. Success is never assured. Only in hindsight does it appear that way.
If you’re willing to work hard and persevere, who you are is more than enough. Don’t measure yourself against other people.
Pick a goal and measure yourself against that goal–that is the only comparison that matters.
2. They decided to choose themselves.
Once you had to wait: to be accepted, to be promoted, to be selected–to somehow be “discovered.”
Not anymore. Access is nearly unlimited; you can connect with almost anyone through social media. You can publish your own work, distribute your own music, create your own products, attract your own funding.
You can do almost anything you want–and you don’t have to wait for someone else to discover your talents.
The only thing holding you back is you–and your willingness to try.
3. They help others succeed, knowing that ensures they will succeed.
No one accomplishes anything worthwhile on his or her own. Great bosses focus on providing the tools and training to help their employees better do their jobs–and achieve their own goals. Great consultants put their clients’ needs first. Great businesses go out of their way to help and serve their customers.
And as a result, they reap the rewards.
If you’re in it only for yourself, then someday you will be by yourself. If you’re in it for others, you’ll not only achieve success. You’ll also have plenty of real friends.
4. They know that sometimes the best way to finish first is to be the last.
Success is often the result of perseverance. When others give up, leave, stop trying, or compromise their principles and values, the last person left is often the person who wins. Other people may be smarter, better connected, more talented, or better funded. But they can’t win if they aren’t around at the end.
Sometimes it makes sense to give up on ideas, projects, and even businesses–but it never makes sense to give up on yourself.
The one thing you can always be is the last person to give up on yourself.
5. They do what no one else is willing to do.
The extra mile is a lonely place, because almost no one goes there.
Go there–as often as you can.
6. They don’t network. They truly connect.
Often the process of building a network takes on a life of its own and becomes a numbers game.
You don’t need numbers. You need real connections: people you can help, people you can trust, people who care.
So forget numbers. Reach out to the people whom you want to be part of your life–even if just your professional life–for a long time. When you do, forget about receiving and focus on providing; that’s the only way to establish a real connection and relationship.
Make lasting connections and you create an extended professional family. You’ll be there when they need you, and they will be there when you need them.
7. They think, but more important, they do.
Strategy is not a product. Binders are filled with strategies that were never implemented.
Develop an idea. Create a strategy. Set up a rudimentary system of operations. Then execute, adapt, execute some more, and build a solid operation based on what works.
Success isn’t built on strategy. Success is built through execution.
Incredibly successful people focus on executing incredibly well.
8. They know “leader” is a title that is earned, not given.
“Leaders” aren’t just the guys who double the stock price in six months, or the gals who coerce local officials into approving too-generous tax breaks and incentives, or the guys who are brave enough to boldly go where no man has gone before.
(If you don’t get that last reference, you’re too young. Or I’m too old. Probably both.)
Those are examples of leadership–but typically the kind of leadership that is situational and short-lived.
Real leaders consistently inspire, motivate, and make you feel better about yourself than you might even think you have a right to feel. They’re the kind of people you’ll follow not because you have to but because you want to.
You’ll follow them anywhere–and you’ll follow them forever, because they have a knack for making you feel like you aren’t actually following. Wherever you’re headed, you always feel like you’re going there together.
Creating that bond takes time.
9. They see success as an outcome, not a driver.
Ever heard someone say, “If I got promoted, then I would work harder”? Or, “If the customer paid more, then I would do more”? Or, “If I thought there would be a bigger payoff, I would be willing to sacrifice more”?
Successful people earn promotions by first working harder. Successful businesses earn higher revenue by first delivering greater value. Successful entrepreneurs earn bigger payoffs by first working hard, well before any potential return is in sight.
Most people expect to be compensated more before they will even consider working harder.
Incredibly successful people see compensation as the reward for exceptional effort, not the driver–whether that reward is financial or personal or simply the satisfaction that comes from achieving what you worked incredibly hard to achieve.
10. They wish you knew there really are no dirty little secrets.
Except this one: There are no magic bullets. There are no shortcuts. There are no hacks.
Success–in whatever you choose to pursue–is always achieved through hard work and persistence.
It’s easier to assume that other people succeed because they have something you don’t have. But in reality, the primary difference is that they are willing to do something you won’t do.
So go do it.
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