On the surface, it might seem that Michael Jordan and Elon Musk don't share too much in common besides their monetary success. But, if you unravel a few more layers, you'll discover that those two share the most important trait needed for success: relentlessness.

Whether it was Jordan's quest for domination on the court or Musk's obsession with space, they display a relentlessness for greatness.

That word, however, is tossed around nonchalantly often times. So what does it mean?

Tim Grover, author of Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable and legendary trainer to Michael Jordan, has the perfect definition:

"The word relentless is used in sports to describe the most intense competitors and achievers imaginable, those who stop at nothing to get to the end result.

In sports, being relentless is measurable by victories and trophies and championships and rings.

In real life, being relentless is a state of mind that can give you the strength to achieve, survive, to overcome, to be strong when others are not. It means craving the end result so intensely that the work becomes irrelevant. Not just in sports, but in everything you do. The ability to be relentless is in all of us."

Truly relentless people such as Jordan and Musk aren't satisfied with being good, or even great, they want to be unstoppable. And to become unstoppable requires a relentless commitment to excellence which can be executed with these three steps.

1. Take ownership for everything in your life

When the Bulls lost games, Jordan didn't throw his teammates under the bus and blame them. Instead, Jordan took extreme ownership of the situation and placed the blame on himself and strived to be better.

As the safety concerns at Tesla were made public, Musk didn't deflect blame onto others. Instead, he took extreme ownership and displayed emotional intelligence.

When it comes to your personal health and various projects, you're responsible for everything. Something goes off plan, it's your job to fix it and put it back together. No blaming, no excuses -- own it and do what needs to be done.

This mentality of extreme ownership signals to your brain that you and only you are the captain of your own life. Therefore, that ship can be sailed in any direction you deem.

2. Stop looking for "hacks" and "shortcuts" and just "do the work"

Michael Jordan only became a better shooter, defender, and athlete after hours in the gym filled with repetitive activities and numerous weight training sessions.

Elon Musk has encountered numerous setbacks through SpaceX and Tesla, but only became better and smarter through the sheer amount of hours spent doing the work.

Want long-term weight loss success? No pills, hacks, or two week cleanses will replace the hard work required for long-term success.

Want long-term success in business? No productivity hacks, expert secrets, or four-week courses will replace the hard and tedious work that's required to get long-term results.

Succeeding with your goals comes down to assessing where you currently stand, thinking about where you want to be, deciding what's needed to get there (and are you willing to do those things consistently), making a game plan, and ruthlessly executing.

3. Go through the discomfort

Seeking comfort is the antithesis to being relentless.

Grover sums it up by reminding us to:

"Do. The. Work. Every day, you have to do something you don't want to do. Every day. Challenge yourself to be uncomfortable, push past the apathy and laziness and fear. Otherwise, the next day you're going to have two things you don't want to do, then there and four and five, and pretty soon, you can't even get back to the first thing. And then all you can do is beat yourself up for the mess you've created, and now you've got a mental barrier to go along with the physical barriers."

Personal and professional growth and expansion only arrive on the scene through pushing past the discomfort.

If you never lift heavy weights, then you're going to stagnate. If you never push your boundaries in business and aim for bigger (and scarier) opportunities, you're going to stagnate.

Want to skip morning meditation? Push yourself to sit down anyway. Want that slice of carrot cake? Push yourself to resist it.

Ascending to greatness in business and personal health requires a relentless attitude. And being relentless starts with a mindset shift of being comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Published on: Jul 24, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.