Photo: Etienne Marais/Pexels
Most people choose to believe that success, however they may define it, is tied to god-given talent or luck. And they mostly make this choice because it’s an easy excuse.
If you think that you can’t reach specific goals because you lack talent, you can as well stay on the couch and watch Netflix, right? Yet, the reality is that most of the time, personal and professional success can be broken down into a few simple things that require effort, not talent.
Talent can give you a headstart, but in the long run, a person who’s doing the work will always outperform the one who’s talented but lazy. And quite often, these are the things that make all the difference — in our personal and professional lives.
Being on Time
Being on time for appointments and commitments is a sign of respect.
It shows that you value the time of yourself and your fellows. And the reality is that time is one of our most precious resources, so if you don’t protect it, you’ll end up wondering how it passed by so quickly.
By being punctual, you set a clear expectation for others to be on time as well.
We all know at least one person who’s always late, right?
Do you make an effort to be on time when you meet this person? You don’t. Because you know that even if you’re late, you’re still going to be earlier than them, so there’s no reason for you to be on time.
While being late for a night out with friends might not be a big deal, being late in your professional life shows that you’re not a great team player and don’t respect others’ time.
If someone’s not able to be punctual, it often means they don’t have their life together and can’t properly manage their time.
Unexpected situations can happen to all of us, but whether you’re generally on time isn’t tied to extraordinary events. It’s more about your ability to manage your life.
And let’s be honest: We all prefer working with people who do have their shit together.
If someone’s late to a meeting or call, I automatically have a negative first impression because being punctual really isn’t that hard. And if someone’s not respecting my time, they’ll have a hard time impressing me because I value my time and expect others to do the same.
Unless you have a phenomenal reason, show up on time.
Be aware of how long your routines take and schedule a time buffer to ensure you’re punctual. It’s always better to be 10 minutes early than 10 minutes too late.
Taking Care of Your Body Language and Energy
As humans, we spend the majority of our waking hours communicating with others.
And even though words are powerful, we communicate more on a non-verbal level by using our body language, gestures, and mimic.
While most people only focus on their words, the reality is that non-verbal communication is more reliable and powerful.
Your posture, gestures, eye contact, tone of voice, and movements can tell much more about you than your words. And by consciously using these tools to your advantage, you can stand out from the masses and make a difference.
“Language is a more recent technology. Your body language, your eyes, your energy will come through to your audience before you even start speaking.”
— Peter Gruber
Here are a few simple changes that can have a huge impact:
- Sit and stand upright — this is a way to show that you’re confident.
- Keep an open and welcoming posture, don’t cross your arms.
- Make and hold eye contact — studies show that 50–60% eye contact during a conversation is necessary to show your conversation partner that you’re interested and present.
- Aim to be the person with the highest energy in the room. Don’t be annoyingly cheerful or loud, but give your best to increase the level of energy in the conversation.
Positive energy is infectious and can spread like wildfire. And the truth is that we all prefer being around people who spread positivity instead of negative energy.
Taking care of your body language and energy will help you stand out from the masses and impress your colleagues and loved ones without much effort.
Your willingness to learn
Great things don’t happen easily. They require effort and the willingness to get up after failures.
And the truth is that you’ll only reach significant goals if you’re willing to learn from your mistakes and from people who’re ahead of you.
Otherwise, you’ll waste so much time on trial and error that you’ll eventually end up giving up without seeing your desired results.
Being willing to learn means that you’re able to put your ego aside and do things differently. And above all, it means being coachable and listening to the advice of those who’ve already been where you want to be.
If you’re more interested in being right than in learning from your mistakes, you’ll likely struggle to make progress.
But if you’re ready to relearn things you thought to be true, you have a strong foundation for growth.
One of the most underrated shortcuts in life is to ask for help.
Most people prefer wasting endless hours on solving a problem themselves instead of asking someone more experienced for help. Yet, the truth is that acknowledging your weaknesses is a strength.
And most of the time, it’s not smart to work hard on solving a problem that a professional could solve in just a few minutes.
Long story in short: If you want an unfair advantage in life, put your ego aside and allow yourself not to know everything and anything. Instead, adopt a mindset that helps you to grow and learn from those ahead of you.
Going the Extra Mile
While working hard is not always the smartest choice, it can sometimes be the missing piece between you and your goals.
Most people tiptoe through life because they don’t dare to think big and do big. They’re so afraid of doing too much that they end up doing too little.
We’re living in a time of unlimited possibilities, yet, most of us are so lazy that they prefer sitting on the couch rather than doing a few extra reps.
But here’s the truth: The person willing to go the extra mile often ends up being the one who gets what she wants.
You’re not the only one who wants what you want. Chances are that there’re hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of people who want to have what you want to have.
Even though I genuinely believe that there’s always space for one more person on the top, the untold reality is that there’s not enough space for everyone.
And the problem is that most people wish for more than they’re willing to work for. If you’re not ready to take immediate action and go the extra mile, you’ll likely fall behind.
In most cases, the extra mile is not even special — it’s just about taking one more step in the right direction.
Wanna improve your relationships? Pick up the phone and make phone calls.
Wanna run your first marathon? Go for a jog now.
Wanna lose weight? Educate yourself and start changing your diet.
Wanna read more books? Choose one now and create a daily “reading appointment” in your calendar.
Sometimes, life isn’t that complicated and it’s all about doing something. But the reality is that most people don’t do what they should do. Once you break out of that mentality, you might be able to make a real difference.
Stop wishing for something more than you’re willing to work for it, don’t settle for mediocrity, and think of the extra mile as the first mile to outgrowing everyone else.
We all face unexpected situations, yet, despite those surprises, we can be well prepared to deal with most of our daily challenges.
By being well-prepared for your daily life, you can make sure to have more time and energy for unexpected surprises.
In fact, being well prepared can be applied to almost any area of your life:
- You can be well prepared for the morning by arranging anything you need for the next day before going to bed: your outfit, your breakfast, your to-do list,…
- You can prepare for meetings by doing some additional research about the topic and your conversation partner in advance.
- You can be well-prepared for changes in your career by staying up to date on current trends in your industry.
- And so much more.
In the end, being well prepared is not a one-time task but an attitude you keep for all areas of your life.
We’re living in an age of unlimited possibilities and turning your goals into reality has never been easier than in the 21st century.
However, at the same time, there has never been more competition than right now.
In our well-connected world, we all compete with each other more than ever before. And while it might sometimes seem like a few lucky ones win it all, the reality is that most of the time, it’s effort, not talent, that determines whether we lose or win.
Keeping the five rules in mind can give you an edge and help you stand out from the masses with ease:
- Be on time
- Take care of your body language and energy
- Be willing to learn
- Go the extra mile
- Be well-prepared