What does it means to be successful? That’s a question addressed by countless books, conference, courses, and blogs. Despite all the resources and expert’s advice on success, you ultimately have to decide for yourself what it means to be successful. Success is first and foremost an inside job (but it doesn’t stay there).
In this post I’ll share ten principles for pursuing success, and even though they are couched in the concept of “days,” they’re not really days. These are attitudes and actions that usually take some time to develop. In fact, most of these are daily decisions rather than one-time achievements.
These are days that will truly change your life.
1. The day you start taking responsibility for your own success.
My wife and I have a running joke at home. Sometimes when things go wrong and we’re not sure whom to blame, we’ll say, “It’s the President’s fault!” It’s our way of poking fun at the people who, no matter what the national problem is, will always blame the President.
There are people who look at the problems and lack of success in their lives and always want someone else to blame. You and I must never become one of them.
When it comes to your own success, there’s only one person who is ultimately responsible, and that’s you. Waiting for others to change is terrible strategy for success.
The only person you can control is yourself, and that’s the person you should focus on changing.
2. The day you start hanging around people more successful than yourself.
When you start connecting with people who are more successful than you, you’ll find that instead of being intimidating, they are usually very kind and generous. Those are the kind of qualities that made them successful in the first place.
You will also find that just because of who they are, they lift you up to a higher level. This was my experience recently when I received business coaching from my friend Kimanzi Constable. I was able to benefit from his success because I asked questions and opened myself to his constructive criticism and advice.
I’ve heard it said that you are the average of your five closest friends. If you aren’t experiencing the kind of success you’d like, perhaps it’s time to “increase your average” by rubbing shoulders with those who can help you learn and be more successful.
3. The day you start investing in yourself.
The financial crash of 2008 was a brutal reminder that you don’t always get a return on the money you invest. But there’s one investment that always pays off: an investment in yourself.
When you attend conferences, read good books, listen to podcasts, subscribe to good magazines, and generally pour into yourself, you are investing in your present and future success.
It’s true in farming and true in success: you cannot reap what you have not sown.
4. The day you start thinking of yourself as a professional.
The difference between amateurs and professionals is not just a matter of getting paid. It’s a matter of your attitude and your commitment to the work.
Amateurs only work when they feel like it, or when the inspiration strikes. But professionals have a schedule and they get to work regardless of whether they are “in the mood.” Professionals understand that inspiration usually strikes when you’re already at the keyboard, standing at the easel, or in the studio.
Great art is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. But the 10% rarely shows up first.
5. The day you join a mastermind group.
I was introduced to mastermind groups through Dan Miller’s online community 48days.net. Mastermind groups have been around a long time but have grown in popularity in recent years.
I’m currently involved in two masterminds. The first is a general business group, and we meet every Monday at 7 a.m. via Skype. We each spend about 20 minutes reviewing our progress, laying out goals for the coming weeks, and giving each other feedback. It’s been wonderful.
The second mastermind is a writer’s group that meets once or twice a month, depending on our schedules. We meet on Google Hangouts and also spend time talking about our goals and challenges as writers. This group has been great because it’s encouraged me to continually work toward my writing goals.
To find our more about mastermind groups and how you can join or create one, check out Dan Miller’s Udemy course on masterminds.
6. The day you decide to never stop learning.
A few years ago I taught a college course called “Spiritual Development.” I was in my mid-30’s at the time, and the all the students were in their late teens or early twenties.
That is, except for one student named Barbara. She was nearly 70 years old and had decided to finish her Bachelor’s degree. She was a constant source of wisdom and encouragement, and most days I wanted to step aside and let her teach the class!
Barbara is a great example of what it means to be a lifelong learner. What resources, systems and people have you put in your life to help to be a continual learner?
The world is changing quickly, and those who succeed and connect are the ones who are constantly growing and improving themselves.
7. The day you stop comparing yourself to others.
No matter what your gifts or talents are, no matter how much success you’ve had, it’s always tempting to compare yourself to others. But this never ends well.
I love this quote from Rick Warren:
Comparison is the root of all envy. Whenever you start comparing yourself, you’re in a no-win situation. If you compare yourself with someone who is more effective than you, you’ll be full of envy. If you are more effective than they are, you’re full of arrogance and pride. Either way, comparisons will take you down.
You are absolutely unique. You represent a combination of experiences, gifts, potential, and personality that has never existed before, and will never exist again.
When you compare yourself to others, you waste precious time and emotional energy that could be better spent on creative projects that serve others and advance your mission.
8. The day you start helping others.
When you’re in the beginning stages of building your platform, it can be difficult to put the focus on others. There are so many things to do, and so much technology to learn. It’s easy to feel like you’re drowning.
But your focus must always be on helping others. What’s the secret? Start teaching what you know right away. If you have discovered an easier way to do something, a tip or trick, or anything that’s helpful, share it with others. This is what I always tell my guitar students: The fastest way to improve your skills (and increase your influence) is to start teaching others.
9. The day you stop making excuses.
Our world is filled with excuses. I see this all the time as a professor. I’ve heard every reason under the sun as to why a student hasn’t completed an assignment on time. “My computer crashed.” “I forgot the assignment was due.” “I was sick.”
(Oddly enough, no one has ever told me, “The dog ate my homework.”)
Just like college students, you and I are prone to excuses also. Today is the day you must decide to work toward your goals and begin achieving the success you’ve been dreaming about.
10. The day you become the change you want to see.
The easiest thing in the world is to be a passive bystander and let others fight our battles for us. It’s much easier to sit on the sidelines, let others do the tough work of bringing about real change, and then complain about all the mistakes they make.
If you want to bring about positive change in your family, at work, at church, or your community, or in the world at large, you must first embody the change you want to see. Don’t wait for someone else to take action.