Over the last few years, as I've worked to grow my company and made my way to entrepreneurship events and conferences around the world, I've met and worked with tons of entrepreneurs and people aspiring to build something out of nothing.
And in that time, I've never met an entrepreneur who wasn't motivated to make his or her company succeed--but the definition of success varied from person to person. Some decided they wouldn't stop until their company served millions of people; others wanted to retire at 35; and some wanted to sustain something that allowed them to be at their kids' soccer games.
None of these definitions is wrong. In fact, no definition of success can be wrong so long as it makes sense to the entrepreneur chasing it. As I've met and worked alongside some of these leaders, I've been able to observe what makes a person successful. Here are four things all successful people have in common:
1. They define success for themselves.
As I said, every person is going to have a different view of what makes him or her successful. You could define success by income, rank, family life, or even leisure time--whatever you seek, it's important to work toward that goal without letting other people's definition of success change what you want.
If your definition of success is a happy, well-balanced family life, maybe don't take a job that won't allow you to spend time with your family. If success to you is the ability to make a positive difference in people's lives, then don't pass up chances to share your expertise and lead your company or industry in a way that helps others. The literal definition of the word "success" is the achievement of a goal or objective. You can't be successful if you abandon your goal altogether!
2. They work hard.
This piece of advice may be a little clichéd, but there's a reason you hear it so much. I've always liked this quote from Gordon Hinckley: "Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds." If you set a goal and don't put in the work, you'll never reach the goal you set.
Success is impossible without hard work. One thing to note, though, is that hard work doesn't exactly guarantee success. Occasional failure is inevitable. But successful people don't let that stop them, and they always keep working hard.
3. They seek feedback and use it to learn more.
Nothing impresses me more in the entrepreneurs I meet than when they ask what they can do better next time or how they can improve. Too many people think that asking for help or instruction shows that they don't know what they're doing, but that simply isn't true. Being willing to ask for help and consistently learn from others shows how truly dedicated you are to success.
Of course, simply asking for help isn't enough. You've got to take advice to heart. It's human nature to get defensive when we feel threatened or attacked, but don't let that happen when someone offers genuine, constructive criticism. Especially if you've asked for feedback, remain open to new information and perspectives and learn from them so you can grow.
4. They surround themselves with good people.
You can't be successful alone. No one can. Whoever you are or whatever you do, you will always have someone helping you along the way. And if you want to sustain your success, make sure you're surrounding yourself with good people.
Just like those you seek advice from, the people you work with should know and understand your definition of success, even if theirs doesn't match yours completely. As you build your team and your network, remember: You're the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.
So, surround yourself with people who are honest and hard-working, people you're actually happy to spend time with and learn from. Again, don't feel as though you have to know everything. In fact, it's better to seek out people who know more than you do. They'll find a better way to do what you're already doing, making your journey a little bit easier.
Success is different for everyone, but the qualities required to achieve it are pretty universal. You don't have to quit your job or make drastic changes to your life to start on your journey to success. Just decide what you want and start putting in the work, and you'll be on your way.