What is it that makes people successful and I mean really successful compared to you or me? Are they smarter or do they work harder? Are they risk takers or have powerful and influential friends?
The financial newspaper Investors Business Daily (IBD) asked these same questions a few years ago and started a multi-year search for the answer. They studied industry leaders, investors and entrepreneurs to understand the traits they all had in common that contributed to their success. Reproduced here is their list of 10 Secrets to Success along with my commentary on each no-so-secret, ‘secret’.
I decided to reproduce the list here and comment on each of the traits in hopes of motivating you and myself in the process. It’s time for me to take my own advice and start on the path to my dreams. I hope to motivate you, by using myself as an example.
I originally came across this list when I was staring at some papers on a refrigerator owned by someone who was very successful – both personally and financially. My family and I had just spent the night as a guest in a great house in the suburbs of Boston. We were living life large as we played pool in the rec room, drank wine from the wine cellar, and enjoyed a dip in the hot tub. The problem was, neither of the couples in the house owned the property or the life we were pretending to have. You see, my friends were house sitting for the original owner and they had invited us to stay for the weekend.
It wasn’t until the morning after our little ‘party’ that I noticed something taped to the refrigerator – something that impacts me each time I read it. It was the IBD 10 Secrets to Success. Once my head cleared, I quickly copied them down and read them over and over again. After our vacation I made copies and posted them in my home office and inside a journal I decided to keep.
The problem was, after a couple of months I forgot about the secrets and they fell by the wayside. And so did my actions towards my goals. At the time the articles 7 Ways to Grow the Action Habit or How To Motivate Yourself – Self Motivation didn’t exist and I lost my motivation. Well, I re-discovered the list and want to share it with you now. I hope you take these not-so-secret, secrets to heart and realize your dreams – whatever they may be.
1. How You Think is Everything.
Always be positive. Think Success, not Failure. Beware of a negative environment.
This trait has to be one of the most important in the entire list. Your belief that you can accomplish your goals has to be unwavering. The moment you say to yourself “I can’t…”, then you won’t. I was always given the advice “never say I can’t” and I’d like to strike those words from the dictionary.
I’ve found that from time-to-time my attitude waivers. A mentor of mine once said “it’s ok to visit pity city, but you can’t stay and there comes a time when you need to leave”. Positive things happen to positive people.
2. Decide upon Your True Dreams and Goals: Write down your specific goals and develop a plan to reach them.
Write down my dreams and goals? Develop a plan to reach them? You mean like a project plan? Yes, that’s exactly what this means. You may have heard the old adage: A New Years resolution that isn’t written down is just a dream, and dreams are not goals.
Goals are those concrete, measurable stepping stones of achievement that track your progress towards your dreams. My goal is to start a second career as a freelance writer – what are your goals?
3. Take Action. Goals are nothing without action.
Be like Nike and “Just do it”. I took action by reaching out and started writing. Every day I try to take some action towards my goals. It may be small, but it’s still an action. Have you taken action towards your goals?
4. Never Stop Learning: Go back to school or read books. Get training & acquire skills.
Becoming a life long learner would benefit us all and is something we should instill in our kids. It’s funny that once you’re out of school you realize how enjoyable learning can be. What have you learned today?
5. Be Persistent and Work Hard: Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Never give up.
I think every story of success I read entails long hard hours of work. There is no getting around this and there is no free lunch. But, if you’re working towards something that you’re passionate about, something you love – then is it really work?
6. Learn to Analyze Details: Get all the facts, all the input. Learn from your mistakes.
I think you have to strike a balance between getting all the facts and making a decision with incomplete data – both are traits of successful people. Spend time gathering details, but don’t catch ‘analysis paralysis’.
7. Focus Your Time And Money: Don’t let other people or things distract you.
Remain laser focused on your goals and surround yourself with positive people that believe in you. Don’t be distracted by the naysayer’s or tasks that are not helping you achieve your goals.
8. Don’t Be Afraid To Innovate: Be different. Following the herd is a sure way to mediocrity.
Follow through on that break-out idea you have. Ask yourself “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?”
9. Deal And Communicate With People Effectively: No person is an island. Learn to understand and motivate others.
Successful people develop and nurture a network and they only do that by treating people openly, fairly and many times firmly. There is nothing wrong about being firm – just don’t cross the a-hole line. How do you deal with people?
10. Be Honest And Dependable: Take responsibility, otherwise numbers 1 – 9 won’t matter.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.