MOTIVATING

How to Become a Real-Life Success Story

Success doesn't happen on a screen or in a cubicle. You need to get out into the real world.
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Most people spend their working lives stuck behind a desk in a dead-end job or lost forever in some middle management abyss. It's frustrating to live and sad to watch, but it is the reality of working life.

The good news is that there is a way out.

Strangely enough, it's more or less within your control. No kidding. If you really want to be somebody in this world, you have a much better chance of fulfilling that destiny than if you spend all your time sitting around whining and complaining, like most people do.

In my experience, motivation plays a bigger role in achievement and success than anything else. If you're driven and willing to put yourself out there, the rest will follow. You'll be exposed to opportunities, experience new things, develop knowledge and skills, gain confidence and wisdom, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Makes sense, doesn't it? And the best thing about it is it's not a theory. This is how the real world works. This is how today's employees become tomorrow's leaders. And since you're obviously motivated--after all, you're still reading--here are some important tips to help you on your way to becoming a real-life success story.

Don't be a zombie. The origin of the word bureaucrat is from the French "bureau," meaning desk or office. Modern definition: cubicle zombie. Rigid. Routine. Status quo. Comfort zone. It's all bad. If you want to go places, you can't play it safe. You've got to challenge yourself. Take risks. Get out and about. Meet people--real people in real time.

This is supposed to be the entrepreneurial generation. Funny thing is, if you spend all your time with your eyes glued to a display, that's no different from being stuck behind a desk in a cubicle. If you spend your life online, you're no entrepreneur. Just a new generation of bureaucrat.

Take charge. Really. Leadership is all the rage these days. Everyone's a CEO of a one-person company. That's nonsense. You're not a leader until people follow you. I mean real people in a real business. Twitter and LinkedIn followers don't count. Besides, a title doesn't make you a leader. Leaders are people who others follow, period.

So, what does it take to get people to follow you? Think about it. You've got to get out in front. Take the initiative. Come up with an idea, a direction, a goal. Then lead the charge to achieve it. Stick your neck out, make things happen, get things done, deliver real measurable results, and hold yourself accountable.

If you do that, the powers that be will give you responsibility. And others will follow.

Face your fear. Be courageous. You know that little voice in your head that goes on and on about all the things that could go wrong? What if nobody likes your idea? What if nobody follows you? What if you fail? What if, what if, what if? You know what that is? That little voice is your fear talking. And it's normal.

I know, you probably think that courageous people are supposed to be fearless. That's a crock. Everyone feels fear. Most people let it stop them. Courageous people don't. They don't let fear stop them from charging forward. From doing what they know they need to do, what they should do, in spite of their fear. That's courage.

Anyone who tells you to ignore that voice doesn't get it. That voice is part of you. It has just as much right to be in your head as your confidence does. Embrace it and understand it for what it is. Then let your motivation--your drive to make something of yourself, to achieve great things--take over.

Afterwards, think back on it. The world didn't come to an end, did it? Everything turned out fine, didn't it? You'll remember that the next time. That's called confidence. Having the courage to face your fear, take advantage of opportunities, experience new things, take charge, and take risks--all that builds confidence.

Now you're well on your way to becoming a real-life success story. Have a great trip. And don't forget to write.

Last updated: Aug 15, 2013

STEVE TOBAK | Columnist

Steve Tobak is a management consultant, an executive coach, and a former senior executive of the technology industry. He's managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a Silicon Valley-based strategy consulting firm. Contact Tobak; follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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