What Successful People Do
Dear Success Seeker,
One of the benefits of being a parent is the opportunity to meet new and diverse group of people. I met John at one of Tiana's pre-school events a few months ago because his daughter, aged 6, was in her class. In conversation I discovered that he is a sales and training manager for a large company, so we agreed to meet and discuss whether ProCoach might be able to help his team achieve their sales targets and objectives.
We met yesterday and our conversation turned to what it takes to be successful in business and in life. John mentioned that he has already taught his daughter the answer. He told me that if I asked her, "What is the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people?" she would immediately answer, "Successful people do things that unsuccessful people don't."
That answer contains a lot of truth but it also raised a question in my mind. What exactly is it that successful people do that unsuccessful people don't do? Wouldn't it be great to know?
Before I share my opinions and experience on that topic a clarification is needed. To me "success" is not measured by external factors like money, fame, power and recognition. These elements may be present, however true success is an internal experience - a feeling of genuine confidence, fulfillment and inner peace. The successful person is someone who can look in the mirror and feel proud of him or herself, regardless of external circumstances.
My philosophy as a coach is that you can have it all - financial abundance and all the other external factors together with peace of mind. But how exactly do you achieve this elusive goal? There are obviously many aspects to becoming successful. Here are seven major differences I have noticed between people who create amazing success in their lives and those who don't.
1) Take Full Responsibility
Successful people take full responsibility for everything in their lives - the things they do, the results they get and even things that happen to them that appear to be beyond their control. Unsuccessful people are masters at finding ways to blame other people or circumstances to justify their failures. Someone told me recently that any time you are telling others a story about something that happened to you, there is a 99% chance you are casting yourself as a victim. If you don't accept responsibility for everything in your life, you are like cork floating in the ocean with no power to create the life you want.
2) Discipline & Delayed Gratification
Discipline is something unsuccessful people avoid at all costs. They believe they are entitled to freedom and self-indulgence without taking any responsibility for the long-term consequences of their actions. The result is total disaster. They spend money they don't have, creating consumer debt that destroys their freedom and limits their future. They eat what they crave and spurn exercise, then suffer the pain and limitations of poor health. They live lives of irresponsibility and self-gratification, then wonder why they fail.
If you want to be successful you must realize that self-discipline, while not always pleasant, is the key to creating the life you want. All highly successful people have goals and dreams, and then intentionally live their lives in a way that takes them towards their objectives. Their engrained habits of self-discipline and delayed gratification allow them to act spontaneously at times without experiencing serious negative impact. Perhaps Muhammad Ali said it best, "I discovered that all I had to do to become the greatest in the world was to go to the gym when I wanted to, and go to the gym when I didn't want to." This approach worked for him and it will work for you, too.
3) Be True to Yourself
Every person I have ever met has desires deep in their heart; a life they feel called to live. Unfortunately many people fail to follow their own path and instead end up living lives that are not their own. Essentially they sell themselves out. Being true to yourself means listening to your heart and making choices that align with your values; decisions that take you towards the authentic life that is calling to you.
Following your heart is not an easy task, but it is extremely rewarding. Last year I interviewed Dr John Izzo, author of "The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die." He conducted in-depth interviews with over 200 people over the age of 60 who were living extraordinarily rich and fulfilling lives. His research identified five characteristics these people all had in common. First and foremost was the fact that they were tuned into what mattered most to them and made these things the priority in their lives.
(Click here to listen to or download the interview now.)
4) Take Action
Think about the successful people you know and you will quickly realize that they are all action takers. Lots of people sit around dreaming and talking about the great things they are going to do, but most of them accomplish very little because they never follow through on their ideas. Instead they procrastinate, allow themselves to be distracted by unimportant things or spend their time planning instead of doing. The world belongs to those who take consistent action day after day, week after week and month after month.
Many people fail because they believe that in order to be successful they need to take big, bold action. That is not true. Any step that moves you towards your goal is valuable, no matter how small it is. You can climb the highest mountain by taking one small step at a time. There are times to take big leaps, but 95% of success is about consistently taking small steps.
5) Get Outside Your Comfort Zone
Consistent action will get you to the top, but the guaranteed fastest way to accelerate your results is to do something that is outside your comfort zone. Successful people realize this. They decide what they want and then take action towards it even if it scares them.
Of course the problem is that going outside your comfort zone is, well, uncomfortable. Since unsuccessful people steer clear of discomfort they avoid stretching themselves and then wonder why they fail to create the lives they want. Here's the bottom line. Everything you have today lies within your comfort zone; if you want more than you have now, you must go beyond your comfort zone and do something different.
6) Be a Learner
One of the things I have noticed is that many unsuccessful people are closed to suggestions and new ideas. Their know-it-all attitude dooms them to repeat the same mistakes over and over. After all, how can you grow beyond where you are now without listening to feedback and new ideas?
Great achievers like Tiger Woods and Michael Dell have a passion for implementing new ideas and approaches. They value learning and spend many hours reading, working with coaches and studying the work of masters in their field. If you wish to be more successful you too must become a master in your field. If you were just to develop the habit of reading 30 minutes of developmental material per day you would be amazed at how your life would change!
7) Develop Persistence
On the journey of life we all encounter adversity, failure, misfortune and pain. The question is not whether you will experience problems and setbacks. You will. The crucial question is, how will you respond to these challenges when they arise?
When things get tough, unsuccessful people allow obstacles and failures to stop them in their tracks. They complain, get discouraged and quit, abandoning their initial goals to pursue something easier. Successful people stay committed to their goals. They use obstacles to fuel their determination, stimulate their creativity and develop the skills, experience and qualities they need to reach their goals. In the words of Sir Winston Churchill, you must never, never, never give up!
In closing, let me return to the initial premise of this newsletter. Successful people do things that unsuccessful people don't. What is your opinion? Do you think these seven items are the most important differences? If not, what is missing? Think about it and let me know your opinion by email at email@example.com.
Andrew Barber-Starkey, Master Certified Coach
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Andrew Barber-Starkey is a Master Certified Coach residing in Vancouver, Canada. His coaching program, the ProCoach Success System, is designed for entrepreneurs, small-business owners, self-employed and commissioned sales people who want to double their income while simultaneously doubling their time off within 3 years.
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