Steps to Success
The world is obsessed with success. Whether it is a top athlete, singer, author, business person, model, or Hollywood star, we are constantly bombarded with details about the dreamy, coveted lives of our successful heroes.
Why do we desire to hear all about those elevated by the media to success idol status?
In essence, we care and celebrate their achievements because stratospheric success is rare. For every Michael Jordan, Selena Gomez, Napoleon Hill, Warren Buffett,Gisele, and Natalie Portman there are millions who set out and failed to accomplish similar results. Yet, in contrast to our thirst for any fleeting glimpse into the lives of people who reach society’s pinnacle, there are millions of interesting epic journeys never told; the stories of those who fell short while pursuing their dreams.
What catapults a person to the highest levels of success? Why do some succeed while others fail?
Many a book, seminar, and system has been sold to the clamoring masses promising a magic short cut to success. Unfortunately, these programs are mostly designed only to take someone’s money, further enriching the wallets of those who take advantage of people living in despair, hopelessly grasping for the secret quick fix to all their problems.
I have yet to meet one person who could attribute their ultimate success to just one of these aforementioned schemes. In contrast, valuable lessons can be learned from those who have actually achieved success based upon their own merits, and not by preying upon the desperation of the downtrodden.
Compiled from the commonalities discerned by studying these truly successful people, below are the six steps anyone can follow in order to achieve success:
Success is personal and defined by oneself. Ask any number of individuals to define success and you will receive a multitude of answers. For some it is fame and fortune, for others a close family, free time, freedom of choice, to have children, to retire early, beauty, popularity, or to help others, just to name a few; the list is almost as numerous as the billions of people who call this earth their home. The reason for this is that success can only truly be defined by the person who aspires to achieve it. Therefore, the first step on the pathway to success is to decide what success means to you.
Your personal definition of success is the dream you hold and strive to achieve. This is the dream that will guide how you spend your time and energy each day, focused on ultimately realizing that one personalized vision of success. Every successful person began with this first step; they defined their dream and they never let it go or lost focus in its pursuit.
Devise a Plan
The second step is to devise a plan. A great example of someone who has shown the value of constructing a solid plan is Warren Buffett, who has been called “the world’s greatest investor.” He is notorious for consistently using his written plan to find well-run, undervalued companies in which to purchase stock, resulting in tremendous long-term gains for his investors.
Buffett has often credited his winning investment strategy to studying and executing the principals taught by Benjamin Graham, a well-known author, scholar, and financial analyst. Warren Buffett’s investment plan works; it has withstood the test of time through all market cycles including the technology bubble meltdown and more recent financial crisis. Learn from Warren Buffett’s example, research those who are accomplished in your chosen endeavor and use this knowledge to construct your own winning plan.
Next, work backwards from the dream itself, understanding the goals that must be fulfilled in order to attain it. Write out the goals that must be met, as well as the yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily activities that must take place in order to realize your dream.
Something magical happens when we put down what we want on a piece of paper, verbalize it, define it, and allow ourselves to experience it…We can program ourselves to achieve it!
Execute and Overcome Adversity
Every great, accomplished person throughout history has had to overcome obstacles and adversity on their way to success. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, thought himself a hypocrite for writing about success because he was completely broke for much of his life; he lost everything on his path to becoming one of the most successful authors in history. An important lesson we can learn from Napoleon Hill is how he dealt with his personal and professional hardship. Hill may have mourned his losses for a period of time, but eventually he moved forward, continuing to execute his plan. In the face of adversity he kept writing and striving to fulfill his dream.
In pursuit of success you will most likely encounter people who will not value you or your work. You may be criticized, ridiculed, and even betrayed by those you love. Some may try to beat you down or attempt to rob you of any semblance of self-worth; they may even manage to break you for a period of time. At that darkest moment, while drowning in the Abyss of Emotional Bankruptcy, reflect on this universal truth: the difference between success and failure is one more time. Muster that last shred of strength to get up and try just once more, because one attempt that works is all you need to achieve success.
Thomas Edison is famed for having said he failed ten thousand times before he found the right solution to invent a light bulb capable of mass production. What if Thomas Edison had not tried just one last time?
Like Thomas Edison, remember: there is no disgrace in being knocked down, there is only shame in not getting back up; never quit!
When mired in dealing with adversity the value of programs on positive thinking is revealed. In these times, do not fall prey to those who want to sell you something that hands you someone else’s dream or false pathway to success. Instead, define what success means to you, devise your plan, and then incorporate daily programs on positive thinking as a counterbalance against the negativity you may encounter in pursuit of your dream.
As far as information that feeds your positive thoughts each day; I am not referencing programs that supposedly, magically open up the universe to create success for you. Unfortunately, there is no magnet of positive energy that will miraculously transport you into the land of success. Merely, I am stating that maintaining a positive attitude does make a difference, but it is not the only difference. A positive mindset alone in the absence of hard work will get you nowhere. The ultimate benefit of a positive attitude is to help you avoid and ignore the idiots who try to bring you down in life; they are not worth your time. Programming your mind with positive thoughts each day will go a long way to keep you from allowing external criticism to derail your dream.
Measure Results with Key Metrics
Along the pathway to success it is necessary to measure results in order to analyze progress. For this reason, determine and decide what metrics are important to gauge your advance to success.
I will use my dream as an example for formulating key metrics. I had a dream to positively affect people’s lives each day and to leverage various forms of media in order to accomplish this goal. Presently, every single day my quotes are posted in social media all over the world, globally—a dream fulfilled!
For the last six months, in order to measure my results, each day I searched for my name on Twitter. Using only my name as the search criteria, I found my quotes posted there almost daily. On the few days I did not find my name associated with new Twitter posts, I found my quotes posted on Facebook by conducting a similar search there using only my name (this does not include all the times my quotes are posted without my name on website, blogs, and other social media platforms, such as Instagram). Without fail, every day my words are posted throughout the world in such diverse places as the United States, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, South Africa, Norway, South Korea, Vietnam, England, etc…
With respect to my goal, the above is a qualitative measure for how my words are received and deemed impactful enough for sharing around the globe. One key metric I follow is how many times my quotes are posted each day. The second key metric I use is online visibility, which slowly grows with each posting of my quotes and name by others. In order to measure my progress, I frequent a website called WebMii that tracks online visibility and quantifies it against all others in the world.
Just under two years ago, before I published my first book, my online visibility was negligible; in contrast, six months ago it was ranked in the top 30% globally. Whereas, today I have an online visibility ranking among the top 16% in the world. Over time, due to additional postings of my name and quotes worldwide, through no extra effort of my own, this key online visibility metric will continue to climb.
Revise the Plan
Learn when to cut your losses and quit. At first this may seem a direct contradiction to what I wrote earlier about never quitting, however, this statement refers to realizing there may be a time when you need to revise your plan or even start over completely. Never quit on your dream, but learn to cut your losses and quit your plan if it is not working.
Stay well grounded in reality as harsh as that reality may be; there may come a time when you must admit your plan is flawed and, if so, quit that plan. No amount of time, energy, or money can make up for a plan that will not deliver the desired results.
Learning to cut your losses is one of the most difficult lessons in life. Once you develop your initial plan and the key metrics to measure its success, you must continuously monitor, revise, and adjust your plan. You might even have to completely discard your initial plan and draw up a totally new one starting with only a blank piece of paper.
Most successful people attribute failure as their greatest architect in learning how to finally succeed in life. The reality is often the first plan to achieve success may be flawed. Sometimes even an initially successful plan may need to be altered due to changing circumstances or market conditions.
One of my most successful clients created a net worth of $100 million starting with nothing. He toiled for forty years making mistakes, learning from them, and creating wealth in real estate. This same client lost $100 million almost overnight (his accumulated wealth peaked at $200 million). At one point, he had to make a decision to fight for that extra $100 million or cut his losses. Through consulting with his advisers, he realized if he did not take the $100 million loss on some of his real estate holdings, he could easily lose his entire $200 million net worth. In the end, he made that tough, bitter decision, literally walking away from $100 million in equity to preserve the other $100 million. In fact, he decided to liquidate all of his holdings completely, right before the financial crisis decimated the US real estate market; he sold his remaining properties for $100 million and never looked back.
Similar to my client’s example above, sometimes we have to make tough decisions. Our plan may be flawed from the beginning or we may have a winning plan for certain conditions that change over time, quickly transforming it into a losing one. On our chosen pathway it is necessary to constantly evaluate, analyze, and make changes along the way in order to achieve success.
The biggest secret of success is overnight success does not exist. Just ask any famous athlete, star, model, business person, or someone who reached any level of success how they arrived at “overnight success.” The overwhelming answer is: hard work.
The reality is overnight success only materializes instantly to those on the outside who first spot the rising star. From this external frame of reference, to the masses, success appears to be a new phenomenon or occurrence. Though, what the public did not observe are the previous years of hard work, adversity, and sacrifice necessary to achieve this apparent overnight success.
In truth, success is the result of hard work striking opportunity. It takes hard work to get discovered, to gain visibility in an industry, or to create the opportunity for the seeds of serendipity to develop.
Yet, every successful person can point to that one single event or moment in their life that was the difference between ultimate success and failure. I call this The Power of One: just one is all it takes to change your life forever!
Everyone only needs that one breakthrough or opportunity in order to achieve success. It is the culmination of the preceding hard work, dedication, practice, constant plan revision, and consistent execution which all combines to create that one opportunity.
Soon after that one moment, after hard work has conspicuously laid a solid foundation, crowds will jostle to nudge the capstone in place. All successful, famous people have an army working for them and, therefore, eventually capitalize on leveraging the hard work of others. After they achieved some initial level of recognition, along comes a horde of publicists, agents, business managers, and advisers who work relentlessly to catapult that person even further into the highest tier of success. No one accomplishes anything truly great in life alone; yet, this army of helpers would never have emerged unless that person had first achieved some foundational level of success.
In summary, there is no secret road or pathway to success. There are no short cuts; success just plain requires hard work. Rather than spending time and energy relentlessly searching for the secret to success, instead employ “The Six Steps to Success.”
First, expend the time and energy required to define what success means to you. Once you have defined your dream, then devise a plan to achieve it; execute your plan and overcome adversity along the way while using key metrics to measure your progress. Revise your plan as needed and consistently apply the hard work necessary throughout every stage of its implementation.
Everyone is only one opportunity away from success; hard work is the key ingredient necessary to produce that fortuitous moment.
You can realize success as long as you build it upon a solid foundation of hard work; follow “The Six Steps to Success” and you too can live your dreams!