We’re opening another yearbook, named 2011, filled with 365 blank pages – another great opportunity for creating our best-ever success story. It is time to review the time-tested keys that give you the best chances for success.
1. Work harder and play better. Successful people know that nothing worthwhile comes easy. Hard work is important, but it is equally important to have fun. Go to any successful start-up company, and you’ll see employees blowing off steam on ping-pong tables, throwing darts, browsing books on a shelf, or playing trash-can basketball. Frolicking at work isn’t frivolous. Dispensed in small doses, it’s a powerful success medicine. Don’t be a workaholic; be a “workafrolic” instead.
2. Cultivate curiosity. Successful people are not just curious about their chosen field, they are curious about EVERYTHING. They continually think, explore new ideas, ask dozens of questions, and always try to figure out how things work and how they could be made to work better. Curiosity is the most powerful business-improvement and personal-success engine.
3. Expand your endurance. Push yourself mentally and physically. You can find more successful people in a gym than in a movie theater. Successful people know how to generate and maintain positive energy 24/7. They strive to be physically fit, and at the same time they work on their psychological fitness. Here three suggestions:
A) Push past the negative self-talk that says, “I am not good enough, I am not smart enough, and I don’t think I am going to make it.”
B) Push beyond your fears. Fear is an acronym for “false evidence appearing real.” Embrace the fear, and it will loosen its grip on you.
C) Push past your self-limitations. Think big. Life is too short to waste on small stuff.
4. Turn failure into fertilizer. Thomas Edison failed thousands of times before he found a filament that would glow in a vacuum tube, which lead to his invention of the lightbulb. Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, and failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
5. Focus. Successful people begin each day with written goals they want to achieve. They know that the onslaught of incoming emails, calls, and texts will distract them, but each time they get sidetracked, they go back to working on the next item on their list. People who start a new task every three minutes end up doing in an hour 20 small tasks that merely contribute to maintaining the status quo. It is far better to invest your complete mental focus on two or three tasks per hour and create steady forward momentum.
6. Innovate. Successful people know that having innovative ideas is not enough. What counts is how many new ideas you can implement successfully. What holds people back is not the difficulty of implementing their ideas, but what people say when they start sharing their ideas with others. Oracle founder Larry Ellison said it best: “When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you that you’re nuts.”
7. Manage disappointment. Successful people realize that reaching success often depends on how they manage the inevitable disappointments that unexpectedly impact their lives. When people get disappointed, they often withdraw, and their anger turns inward. Successful people transform disappointment into a journey of self-discovery, where they reconnect with their inner strengths. Disappointment well managed will become the cradle of ambition.
8. Improvise. Successful people rarely read a book on how to become successful. Why? Because they are the ones who write the books that inspire others to reach success. The one key ingredient that authors of success books consistently ignore is the art of improvisation. Charles Darwin identified improvisation as most critical, saying, “In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” George Gershwin echoed this idea by writing, “Life is a lot like jazz…it’s best when you improvise.”
9. Dream. Successful people don’t ask for more resources to turn their dreams into reality. They are more resourceful about closing the gap between dreaming and doing. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe believed that dreams played a vital part in reaching success: “Dream no small dreams, for they have no power to move the hearts of men.”
10. Define success. Successful people know that how you define success will define your success potential. There are three basic ways to define success: Some people define success through a material scoreboard. It can be the size of their house, the size of their boat, the size of their bank account. Other people define success with a tuning fork. As they communicate with the world, they experience a special feeling. They may say, “I am successful when I feel happy.” A third group defines success as a continuous cycle of setting and reaching progressively more challenging goals. It doesn’t matter which definition of success you subscribe to, what matters is that you are aware of the fact that your success definition is your “guiding fiction,” which will be reflected on each one of the 365 pages of your book entitled Success 2011.