It's fairly easy to be modestly successful; you just have to work hard. (Seriously: that is all it takes.) It's harder to be very successful; you have to work hard, and smart, and catch a few breaks along the way.
It's extremely difficult to be incredibly successful... yet we all hope to achieve exceptional success (something we all define differently -- and should define differently.)
The key is to bring together a number of traits and qualities, learning to excel --or at the very least be outstanding -- at each.
Sound impossible? It's not. And that's why I've collected a number of my most popular posts on how to be successful into one post full of tips and links to helpful, practical advice.
So let's get started!
1. Develop remarkable willpower and determination.
One way is to see your life -- and future -- as totally within your control.
There's a quote often credited to Ignatius: "Pray as if God will take care of all; act as if all is up to you." (Cool quote.)
The same premise applies to luck. Many people feel luck has a lot to do with success or failure. If they succeed, luck favored them, and if they fail, luck was against them.
Most successful people do feel good luck played some role in their success. But they don't wait for good luck or worry about bad luck. They act as if success or failure is totally within their control. If they succeed, they think they caused it. If they fail, they think they caused it.
By not wasting mental energy worrying about what might happen to you, you can put all your effort into making things happen. (And then, if you get lucky, hey, you're even better off.)
You can't control luck, but you can definitely control you.
2. Make a remarkable first impression.
One way is to never try to take before you give.
Take networking. The goal of networking is to connect with people who can help you make a sale, get a referral, establish a contact, etc. When we network, we want something (unless we're Adam Grant, a guy who should be the poster child of unsolicited giving.)
Still, at first don't ask for what you want. (In fact you might never ask for what you want.) Forget about what you can get and focus on what you can provide, because giving is the only way to establish a real connection and relationship.
Focus solely on what you can get out of the connection and you will never make meaningful, mutually beneficial connections.
When you network, it should be all about them, not you.
3. Use your body language to your advantage.
One way is to smile, because smiling reduces your stress levels.
Frowning, grimacing, and other negative facial expressions signal your brain that whatever you are doing is difficult. So your body responds by releasing cortisol, which raises your stress levels.
Stress begets more stress... begets more stress... and in no time, you're a hot mess.
Here's the cure: Make yourself smile. You'll feel less stress even if nothing else about the situation changes.
And there's a bonus: When you smile, other people feel less stress, too. Which, of course, will reduce your stress levels. So kill two stresses with one smile.
(By the way, smiling also makes working out easier. Say you're doing reps with a heavy weight; naturally you'll grimace. But if you force yourself to smile, you'll often find you can do one or two more reps. Try it -- but be prepared for when other gym rats look at you oddly.)
4. Be remarkably --and genuinely -- giving.
One way is to give the gift of patience.
For some people, we're willing to give our all. Why? They care about us, they believe in us, and we don't want to let them down. Showing patience is an extraordinary way to let people know we truly care about them. Showing patience and expressing genuine confidence is an extraordinary way to let people know we truly believe in them.
Showing patience is a remarkable gift -- because, ultimately, it shows how much you care.
5. Become remarkably effective.
One way is to use your goals to make decisions automatic.
In a podcast, Tim Ferriss described how Herb Kelleher, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, makes so many decisions every day. Kelleher applies a simple framework to every issue: Will this help Southwest be the low-cost provider?
If so, the answer is yes. If not, no.
Remarkably effective people apply the same framework to the decisions they make. "Will this help me reach my goal? If not, I won't do it."
If you feel like you're constantly struggling to make decisions, take a step back. Think about your goals; your goals will help you make decisions.
That's why remarkably effective people are so decisive. Indecision is born of a lack of purpose: When you know what you truly want, most of your decisions can -- and should -- be almost automatic.
6. Become remarkably likable.
One way is to shine the spotlight on others.
No one receives enough praise. No one. Be the first to tell people what they did well.
(Wait, you say you don't know what they did well? Shame on you --it's your job to know. It's your job to find out ahead of time.)
Not only will people appreciate your praise, they'll appreciate the fact you care enough to pay attention to what they're doing.
Then they'll feel a little more accomplished... and a lot more important.
7. Become a remarkable boss.
One way is to help your employees find --and embrace -- a true sense of purpose
Everyone likes to feel a part of something bigger. Everyone loves to feel that sense of teamwork and esprit de corps that turn a group of individuals into a real team.
The best missions involve making a real impact on the lives of the customers you serve. Let employees know what you want to achieve for your business, for your customers, and even your community. And if you can, let them create a few missions of their own.
Feeling a true purpose starts with knowing what to care about and, more important, why to care.
8. Embrace the right mindset.
One way is to realize that the people around you are the people you chose.
Think about it. Some of your employees drive you nuts. Some of your customers are obnoxious. Some of your friends are selfish, all-about-me jerks.
Then think about this: you chose them. If the people around you make you unhappy it's not their fault. It's your fault. They're in your professional or personal life because you drew them to you -- and you let them remain.
Think about the type of people you want to work with. Think about the types of customers you would enjoy serving. Think about the friends you want to have.
Then change what you do so you can start attracting those people. Hardworking people want to work with hardworking people. Kind people like to associate with kind people. Remarkable employees want to work for remarkable bosses.
Successful people are naturally drawn to successful people.
9. See being happy as a choice you get to make -- because it is.
One way is to make money... but also make memories.
Sure, money is important. Money does a lot of things. (One of the most crucial being that it creates options.)
But beyond a certain point, money doesn't make people happier. After about $75,000 a year, money doesn't buy more (or less) happiness. "Beyond $75,000...higher income is neither the road to experience happiness nor the road to relief of unhappiness or stress," say the authors of one study.
They go on to say: "Perhaps $75,000 is the threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals' ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure."
And if you don't buy that, here's another take: "The materialistic drive and satisfaction with life are negatively related." Or, in layman's terms, "Chasing possessions tends to make you less happy."
Think of it as the bigger house syndrome. You want a bigger house. You need a bigger house. (Not really, but it sure feels like you do.) So you buy it. Life is good...until a couple months later when your bigger house is now just your house.
New always becomes the new normal.
"Things" provide only momentary bursts of happiness. To be happier, don't chase as many things. Chase a few experiences instead.