These lists belong to a lengthy genre of books and articles that claim to help you think like Steve Jobs, innovate like Elon Musk, or invest like Warren Buffet. While they’re interesting, insightful, and sometimes downright inspiring, they're also just plainly untrue.
The daily routine and good habits of our idols have undeniably played an important part in their success, but the importance lies in the unique value those habits created for these idols on a very personal level.
Countless sources will say things like "90% of billionaires wake up at the crack of dawn to do yoga. That's really the secret." And yet here we are: tired, grumpy, slightly more flexible, but certainly not billionaires. The reason being we've gleaned no inherent value from the good habits simply by going through the motion.
The better place to start is to identify traits that add value to your success journey and sincerely work on incorporating them into your life on a daily basis. What traits should you consider first?
Richard St. John, a self proclaimed average guy, spent 7 years conducting 500 face-to-face interviews with successful people from all industries. He analyzed every interview and found 8 traits shared by an overwhelming number of successful people.
Instead of simply listing them or telling you why they're important, we'll show you actual steps of implementation so they add meaning to your own life.
We know passion is important because it creates the kind of confidence and drive that convinces others to support your cause, but more importantly, it helps you to believe in yourself. Unfortunately, many of us approach finding our passions in the wrong way.
“Find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This cliche perfectly reflects the belief that passion will drive you to become successful at something. Try again.
It's the other way around--success is the fuel for passion. Your ability to overcome obstacles creates excitement and pride which feeds your drive and motivation to do more.
The bad news here is there are too few distinct areas for everyone to be a prodigy. The good news is that the most successful people are almost never defined by a single skill. Rather, they're an exceptional culmination of various skills at different levels. Elon Musk is not the world’s greatest salesman, engineer, designer, or businessman. But he is exceptional at the combination of all those things.
Here are a few ways you can combine your own "good-enough" skills into something more valuable:
- Create something. Got a dry sense of humor and some decent art skills? Try opening your own t-shirt store online.
- Get in on a new trend. Maybe you don't have the art skills, but you love animation. Get into a relatively new field like video game commentating.
- Invent it. Or take a page out of Mark Zuckerberg's book and build something new from a combination of old things. It's a bit of a #lifehack, but when you create something totally new, your chances of being the best at it increases exponentially.
"Rome wasn't built in a day," and neither were the world's most successful businesses. The people responsible for them worked hard every single day. Contrary to the popular belief of a "perfect" routine or a defining skill, there are no shortcuts that will let you skip the years you owe. Dreams don't work unless you do.
But work is hard--even when you're doing something you love. Here's one great trick to make sure you get even the toughest tasks done:
- Raise the stakes. Wage bets around the tasks. Then, have your friends or family members hold you to them. For example, if you don't close 5 new deals by the end of the month, you'll have to wash your buddy's car every weekend until you do.
It's ok to not have focus when you're starting out. After all, you're still testing the waters to find your best combination of skills. But when you've got it, stay honed in.
On a micro level, our brains are adapted to look for distractions. Every ping, ding, and ring is a signal that alerts the brain to a change. The brain instinctively reacts.
While there's little you can do to change that automatic response, there are several changes you can immediately make to your habits and environment:
- Take breaks. Promise yourself a 5 minute break for every xx minutes of work. If you're unable to wean yourself completely from your digital world, don't force yourself to. It will only make you dread work more. Instead, find a balance and stick to it.
- Limit emails. Refrain from checking emails often. It breaks your focus, your work flow, and detracts precious time from tasks at hand.
- Clean up. It's easier to focus when you're in an uncluttered environment.
Your personal limitations are what stands between you and the best version of yourself. It's when you're face-to-face with your limits that you feel the most resistance and your dreams and goals seem nearly impossible. Whether it's insecurity, fear, anger, or another mental block, limits are the biggest barriers to getting what you want.
Here are the first steps you can take to pushing beyond them--the rest is up to you. See you on the other side!
Lean on friends and family. Find a family member or good friend who understands your limits and can provide that extra little bit of encouragement when you stumble. Having the additional support can help counter-balance your doubts as you venture outside your comfort zone.
Set bigger goals. Realize what your limits are and establish goals just outside of them. Taking on a little more than you think you can helps you work beyond the confines of what you're currently capable of. If you continue to do the same things you've always done, you will only get the same results you've always gotten.
Stay inspired. Who or what inspires you to achieve your goals? Whether it's a moving video, motivating quotes, or uplifting thoughts that reinvigorate you to succeed, keep it at hand. Inspiration can be a powerful tool to get you moving.
For the majority of us, success will not start with one great idea. It starts with a bunch of bad ideas that eventually get fine-tuned to a few good ideas. Those few good ideas will then be sliced and diced until you get one good idea...if you're lucky. That means the more good ideas you have, the higher the chance that one of them may be destined for greatness.
It helps to have a process in order to consistently generate ideas. The one we've outlined will allow you to do just so. While this one requires some research, it also means your first batch of bad ideas may not be so bad after all.
- Pick a topic.
What would you like to generate ideas around? E-commerce? Startups? Food delivery? Be as specific as possible.
- Research the anomaly.
Who sticks out like a sore thumb in this arena? Who is doing something different that has resulted in surprising success? Understand how and why this happened.
- Write it all down.
Set aside 30 - 60 minutes a day to jot down your ideas pertaining to this area, no matter how bad or silly they sound.
Pick out your best ideas and evaluate them. How will you test it? How long will the test run? What are indicators of success?
Pushing yourself beyond your limits is one thing, but consistently making yourself and your work better is another. Successful people are always looking to improve themselves and what they are doing. Here are just a few things you can do:
- Socialize: Meeting new people not only helps you practice listening and communicating but it also opens your eyes to the world and how others interact in it. Always be genuine and respectful.
- Read: Don't restrict yourself to just academic books or popular nonfiction. Expand your horizons and try out science magazines and blogs, professional book and movies reviews, the science behind everyday occurrences, the history of your town, etc. Try and develop an appetite for new knowledge. Here's a great place to start :).
- Travel: Everyone seems to have "travel more" on their to-do list, but it doesn't have to be traveling to a country across the globe or an exotic island. Try going across state lines and you may be pleasantly surprised by what the local scenes have to offer.
- Routine: Create and abide by a daily routine. Clean up, sort out messes, and be punctual.
- Gratitude: Smile more. Show gratitude for everything you have in life. Make note of the good things that happen throughout the day.
- Healthy: Exercise more. Eat healthier.
In other words, decide the best version of you, then become it.
Successful people provide value to others, whether it's through a product or a service. What problems can you solve for others? Here are some common problems people often purchase solutions for:
- More Money: Money offers freedom for most people, making any product or service that offers the buyer an opportunity to earn more much easier to sell. Things that fall into this area are: professional coaching, consulting services, and furthering education.
- Feel Better: People buy products and services to not only feel better physically but also mentally. Think of pilates classes versus meditation classes, or makeup and cologne versus juice cleanses and vitamins.
- Relationships: We all want to connect with others--it's a part of being human. Online dating sites or meetup groups are some examples of this. Even restaurants, bars, and coffeeshops can fall into this category.
- Experience: People want to try things beyond the mundane, even if it's momentary.
- Improvement: Part of our society is competition. Whether it's against others or ourselves, people will buy products that help them improve or gain an edge. Think of performance coaching or productivity apps as an example.
- Protection: Everyone wants to safeguard the things they've worked hard to earn. Some examples include insurance, guns, security systems, etc.
All successful people have met hardships, failures, resistance, or all of the above. The difference that made them great was that they never gave up and only tried harder.
Persistence can't be developed overnight, but here's how you can work on it:
- Start with a goal that you've got every desire to accomplish.
- Create a plan that breaks down your goal into manageable steps.
- Remain positive. Don't let the naysayers pollute your drive.
- Surround yourself with friends and family who can encourage you if you have any negative thoughts.