Thomas Jefferson once proclaimed, “all men are created equal” and the phrase has become somewhat of an American mantra ever since. Though Mr. Jefferson’s words seem to hold true, here in the ultra-competitive land of opportunity, it can often feel as though some have found the way to success much faster than others. So what exactly drives a person’s likelihood of success and why do some seem to just have it in their DNA while others never seem to get off the proverbial hamster wheel? The reason why is that successful people are passionate about being a catalyst for change and when they change their circumstances, they inevitably change their world. Whether you are a running a business or just striving to make a difference on your own, your thoughts will make all the difference when it comes to achieving long-term success, so here are a just a few things to remember to keep your mind in the right space.
All success is relative. You can compare yourself to every person in the world and there will always be someone who seems to have something you don’t. Forget about it. Success isn’t one thing. For some, success means running a high profile empire and having millions of dollars. For others, success comes in small, anonymous ways such as finding meaning in life by taking care of the ones you love. Don’t think about anyone else’s path, find your own instead and do what makes you happy. When you start with yourself and work your way outward, enjoying the contentment that comes with success is never far behind.
Your biggest obstacle is yourself. It is up to you to decide how far you will go in life. We can all blame circumstances, relationships, money, fear and a whole lot of other things for not taking the path we always wanted, but there is no room for self-defeatist attitudes or pity parties on the way to success. In the time it takes you to come up with every excuse for why you never did take that next step, you could have made some real progress in life and been that much closer to achieving your goals. Leave the negative thinking behind and start being open to the fact that nothing is really standing in the way of you and what you really want.
Honoring your Legend. In perhaps the greatest book of all time, Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”, Santiago the shepherd boy learns that there is no greater reward than in following your Personal Legend—something that must be sought against all odds. Every person who has made a big impact in this world did so because they believed they were doing what they were born to do. Embracing who you are and what you bring to the table (your own unique set of talents and gifts), will give you all the tools and motivation you need to navigate this world with purpose and will increase the likelihood of making a life doing what you love most.
Vision is important, but action is everything. Ok, we all have those friends or employees who talk a big game, but rarely end up doing anything they said they wanted to do. It is important to have a vision and make goals, but it is useless if you half-ass things or worse, never even start. All the brilliant thoughts in the world are useless without putting them into action. We are not on unlimited time. Every day that we lose to inaction prolongs our success that much longer. The most successful people in the world make to-do lists and the reason why is because it is important to do something each day, no matter how small. Your list doesn’t have to be big, but make sure that every day you have completed at least three things that will move you forward in the direction you would most like to go. While it may not seem like much, look back after six months or a year of supplementing your thoughts with action and chances are you’ll be surprised at how far you’ve come.
Risk is worth the reward. Everyone from Steve Jobs to my own mother has said it, so there must be something to it. Too many people live in the land of “what ifs”. What if I fail? What if it takes too long? Bottom line: you will never ever get what you want unless you get off your butt and chance it. If it doesn’t work out, you won’t be any worse for wear and if it does, you can revel in the knowledge that you took a chance and won. Failure teaches us a lot about life and no one who failed didn’t walk away that much wiser. We only have one life to live and no one ever made it to the top with a boatload of “what ifs” and jar full of “playing it safe”. Risk is a game of chance, but the good news is that it also lands you the biggest payoff.
The journey is the destination. People who think of success as a finish line have another thing coming to them. Every day that we live and work, we have a chance to learn, grow, change, and strive for more. Learning is a life long process and so is success. Instead of building to one single climax, life is more like a series of choices and chance, gains and losses, wisdom and foolishness where we encounter moments that change us and set us off into new territories. It is here, beyond our comfort zones, where the lightning in a bottle happens. Hindsight is always the most clear and when you let go and embrace your journey, someday you will look back in wonder and see that every seemingly arbitrary turn along the way was guiding you toward the biggest successes of your life. Bon voyage.