So, you want to be successful?!
Congratulations on taking the first step!
But now what? Where do you start and how do you begin?
There’s an excellent chance that success is in front of you and you don’t even see it.
Let me illustrate with a story.
An African farmer dreamed of becoming rich and sold his farm to prospect for diamonds. Many years later the farmer, who was broke and disheartened, committed suicide.
Meanwhile, the man who bought the farm was surveying his new property and noticed a strange stone. The stone, which ended up on the man’s mantle, came from a stream that ran through the man’s property. Soon after, a friend visited the man and noticed the stone on the mantle.
It turns out this stone was a diamond. Not any diamond, but the largest diamond ever discovered. Better yet, the farm’s stream was overflowing with similar stones. Overnight the farm became the most productive diamond mine in Africa.
If you want to be successful, let’s clear the way for your acres of diamonds.
Let’s start by having you look inward to find and remove what I call success killers.
What’s a success killer?
A success killer is one of your habits, beliefs or traits that’s robbing you of success.
If you want to be successful, see if you’re doing any of these 15 things and stop doing them.
If You Want To Be Successful Why Should You Read This?
This post you’re reading and my blog aren’t theory.
I’m a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about helping people solve problems.
Despite myself, I ended up building a 8 figure business. I launched my first business with no experience, money or management team.
Sometimes ignorance is bliss. What I didn’t know, enabled me to break all the rules.
Although I stumbled from success-to-success, I also did the same from failure-to-failure.
In my quest to achieve my goals I sought out millionaires, billionaires, and masters.
I made more mistakes than I care to count. In fact, I’m still making mistakes.
Success is both an unforgiving teacher and the most forgiving teacher around.
Your success all depends on how you show up.
When you show up ever day and play the long game, help people, and solve problems, success is yours.
I’ve been a ‘failure,’ and now I’m successful. But I’m still the same guy. I still have the same hopes and fears that you likely have.
When I was in my lowest of lows, I promised myself to pay-it-forward if I ever made it big.
Congratulations! You’re the benefactor.
If you want to be successful, pay close attention.
The 15 things I explore in this post are likely robbing you of success, and you don’t even know it.
May you read and prosper!
1. Stop Chasing the Money
I built a 8 figure company, Embanet, from scratch, sold it, and started a new venture.
Embanet was the intersection of my passion for education, technology, and helping people.
When I launched Embanet, I had no money, business experience, or team. But I did have vision and passion.
I should have failed, but didn’t.
In no time, I launched another company with the same business partner from Embanet.
This time there was plenty of capital, business experience, and an experienced team.
So, you ask, was this company also 8 figures?
Not quite. This company was a 7 figure one.
But on the opposite side of the ledger!
This company LOST 7 figures.
Yup, my business partner and I lost our entire investment.
Say it ain’t so, you say! How could this happen, you ask?
I was greedy, had an ego, and broke every success principle I learned at Embanet.
I was chasing the money.
I earned an expensive doctorate from the School of Hard Knocks.
Chuck Blakeman’s article in Inc. magazine is a must read. ‘Stop Chasing Money. You’ll Be More Successful Pursuing A Big Why‘ has three important takeaways:
- When you have a passion, you have a reason to work
- Happiness comes from the journey.
- You’re hard wired to do something of significance
Money, in and of itself, doesn’t light your fire, make you happy, or inspire you to do something significant.
Speaking of happiness, read this article on how and why you should focus on the journey.
2. Stop Aiming For Perfection
“Done is better than perfect” – Scott Allen
If you want to be successful, stop aiming for perfection.
Time waits for no one, including you.
Think about this the next time you enjoy Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, or Angry Birds.
If you want to be successful, believe in what you do and figure it out as you go along.
After all, this is the anthem for every entrepreneurial success story.
I launched Embanet right out of my MBA program.
My lack of business experience was a gift as it meant I had no idea what I was doing.
I made my mistakes, learned, and continued moving on.
Embanet did not become a 8 figure company because it was perfect.
Quite the opposite, actually. At Embanet, I made more mistakes than I care to admit.
But what Embanet lacked in a perfect solution was overcome by speed. Embanet outworked the competition each and every day.
Had I waited, the marketplace would have passed me by in a heartbeat.
What are you waiting for?
3. Stop Procrastinating
“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln
If you want to be successful, stop procrastinating.
Email. Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. YouTube.
There are as many distractions as there are minutes in the day.
SocialMedia Today has an excellent article on the time people spend on social media.
On average, people spend 2 hours on social media. Per day. Every day.
And this doesn’t include email, phone calls, and other distractions.
SociaMedia Today suggests that people will spend 5 years and 4 months of their lives on social media.
And the numbers keep climbing.
Sounds harmless, right?
Gloria Marks is an Informatics Specialist at the University of California, Irvine. Marks did a study on the impact of interruptions on your focus and productivity.
It turns out every interruption requires 23 minutes and 15 seconds for you to recover.
If you want to be successful, end distraction and procrastination.
I know, easier said than done.
If you want to be successful, read this article on how to claim back your focus and time.
End procrastination and get the necessary things done.
4. Stop Blaming Everyone Else
“Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.” – Joseph Campbell
If you want to be successful, stop blaming everyone else.
Successful entrepreneurs own all their actions and accept responsibility for every situation.
Rachel Woods, in her post How to Stop Playing the Blame Game, suggests four strategies:
- Believe there’s a lesson to learn and learn it
- Admit that you might have helped create the problem
- Take some alone time to review the situation
- Let go of your attachment to the problem
As an entrepreneur, my biggest progress has come when I own every outcome. Even outcomes that aren’t my own.
Total freedom and empowerment overtake me when I own all outcomes.
If you want to be successful, read this post on failure and learn how to transforming failure into success.
Here are ten questions to help:
- How did this happen?
- Looking back, what could I change that would have led to a better outcome?
- Is there anything I can do right now to turn the situation around?
- Who can I turn to for an outsider’s perspective on my failure?
- What assumptions did I make and were they right?
- When could I have changed to avoid failure?
- If I could do it all over again, what would I do and not do?
- What have I learned from this situation?
- Going forward, how will I prevent this failure from happening again?
- Who can help identify blind spots in my thinking, assumptions, and behavior? Select someone who knows you well.
If you want to be successful stop the blame game. Now.
Own your actions. Take action. And watch your success grow.
5. Stop Trying To Hit Home Runs
” Focus on hitting singles and doubles. Home runs don’t happen every day or even every decade. ” – Ram Charan
If you want to be successful, stop trying to hit home runs.
Ram Charan, is right on the money in his quote above. Success comes from little actions, every day.
Daily actions aren’t glamorous at the best of times and challenging at the worst of times.
I’m fortunate to have crossed paths with successful people from all walks of life.
From millionaires to billionaires, these entrepreneurs all have one thing in common.
And that one thing is this:
This site offers up the infographic below:
Leave the home runs for a Hollywood thriller. When you’re playing the long game, it’s the singles and doubles that win the day.
Boring, yes. But oh so effective.
No go out there, slugger, and strut your stuff with your daily routine.
6. Stop Sacrificing Your Health
“The greatest wealth is health” – Virgil
If you want to be successful, stop sacrificing your health.
The Dalai Lama was once asked what surprises him the most about humanity. The Dali Lama’s response:
“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.”
So sad yet so true.
A visit to your local hospital will confirm what I’m saying.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m far from perfect.
In my quest to build Embanet into a 8 figure company I sacrificed my health.
I didn’t exercise. The processed food made me hungrier and unhealthy. And as for sleep, there wasn’t much of that.
I felt terrible, had constant brain fog, and I looked horrible.
It’s not worth it.
So how do you become and stay healthy, you ask?
For me the perfect trifecta for health is:
- Between 6 to 8 hours of sleep
- Moderate exercise three to four times per week
- Eating whole foods with minimal sugar, chemicals, and processing
If being a vegetarian is your thing, go for it. If you’re a hardcore paleo person, beautiful!
Figure out what feels best for you.
By the way, if you run, bike, or spin, listen up.
Walking keeps your appetite in check, is easy on the joints and helps you live longer.
While you’re on Mark’s site, check out his diet and nutrition information. And while you’re at it, why not read one of Sisson’s books.
You can thank me later.
7. Stop Seeking Approval
“If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission.” – Eddie Colla
If you want to be successful, stop seeking approval.
Why you ask?
Because the answer is usually ‘No.’
This article is all about entrepreneurs who did not seek approval.
Bill Gates created his empire by morphing open-source software into closed-source. In the process, Gates created an entire industry and forever changed society.
McDonald’s became the giant of fast food from mass market consistency and quality. Ray Kroc never asked approval when he introduced his system and vision.
Henry Ford turned heads with his idea of affordable cars for the masses. And heads must have rolled when Ford insisted on paying his employees more than market rates.
Sam Walton broke all the rules in building Walmart. Rules like respect for staff, adopting technology and ensuring the customer’s always right.
Michael Dell who broke all the rules by selling PCs to the public with no middle channel. And all from his dorm room!
And so should you.
Stop asking for permission on your journey to greatness.
8. Stop Playing It Safe
“No one every achieved greatness by playing it safe” – Hary Gray
If you want to be successful, stop playing it safe.
Remember, I was a kid straight out of school. I had zero, and I mean zero, business experience.
I had no money.
My management team consisted of me, myself, and I.
I should have failed for every reason you can think of.
Yet, despite this, I built a 8 figure business.
How did I beat the odds, you ask?
I took calculated risks. Many times I made a ‘bet the farm’ decision.
People think entrepreneurs are wild and crazy risk takers. The irony is that successful entrepreneurs are risk averse.
If you want to be successful, here’s my formula for taking risks:
- List everything that could go wrong
- Write down what you’ll do to protect yourself from what could go wrong
- Research what other people and companies have done in a similar situation
- Speak with successful people whose only agenda is your success
Don’t fall into the trap of ‘paralysis of analysis.’ Instead, analyze the facts and information you’ve collected.
The decision is yours, and yours alone. Remember this. Especially when speaking with people.
Make your decision.
Know you’ve done your best based on the circumstances and information.
- Speak candidly at the risk of awkward conversations
- Challenge assumptions to avoid ignorance
- Be uniquely you at the risk of rejection from others
- Show decisiveness in your actions at the danger of making a wrong decision
While you’re at it, why not take your game to the next level with Warrell’s book, Stop Playing Safe.
9. Stop Associating With Toxic People
“People inspire you or they drain you. Pick them wisely.” – Hans Hansen
If you want to be successful, stop associating with toxic people.
What’s a toxic person, you ask?
Forbes columnist Travis Bradberry gives you the full scoop here. Bradberry’s article, ’10 Toxic People You Should Avoid At All Costs’ will serve you well. Read it.
Still not convinced?
Entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker Jim Rohn said it best:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
If you want to be successful, take a few minutes and answer my ‘five to thrive’ questions:
- What’s the ideal version of you?
- List the five people you spend the most time with.
- List the top three to five qualities of these five people.
- Do the qualities of the five people you spend the most time with match your ideal version of you?
- Write out a list of people who represent the qualities you desire. Include both people you know and people you’d like to meet.
So, how did you do on your list of the five people you spend the most time with?
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, your lists don’t line up.
If you want to be successful, it’s time for new friends and associates.
Your future depends on this.
10. Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you want to be successful, stop comparing yourself to others.
The picture below from Chibird sums it up.
Easier said than done. The rise of social media makes you salivate at the images you see.
Friends and strangers living the lavish and good life. Fancy vacation spots. Luxury clothes, cars, and jewelry. Smiles abound, everywhere. Fit, toned and happy people.
If you’re not feeling envy, low-self esteem, and even depression, then I’ll feel it for you!
Science confirms the adverse effects that happen when you compare yourself to others. This article from Psychology Today shares the details.
So how do you deal with what you see?
For starters, these ‘glorious’ pictures are distortions of reality.
Know that you’re watching a highlight reel with all the boring, mundane and even bad stuff edited out.
My remedy is to look inward and count my blessings. The sense of gratitude lifts my spirits and has me ready to take on the world.
Speaking of gratitude, this is a perfect segway for the next thing to do if you want to be successful.
11. Stop Being Ungrateful
“Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself” – Joseph Campbell
If you want to be successful, stop being ungrateful.
Some of the 14 proven benefits of gratitude include:
- Grateful people achieve more
- You’re less likely to suffer from depression
- Grateful people are healthier
- Enjoy a better sleep when you’re grateful
- Grateful people enjoy a better emotional well-being
And the numbers keep piling up. The infographic below by Jodie Gale gives 20 ways to practice gratitude.
- Increased mental strength
- Improved self-esteem
- Better sleep
Speaking of Morin, her book ‘13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do‘ is a fabulous read.
Morin is right on target with recommending a gratitude journal. I’m a raving fan of the ‘5 Minute Journal‘.
Whether you use the paper based 5 Minute Journal or app, you’ll start your day and end your day in gratitude. And as the name says, all in five minutes.
The 5 Minute Journal App has the added benefit of capturing a picture of the day.
12. Stop Multitasking
“Multitasking is a lie” – Gary Keller
If you want to be successful, stop multitasking.
The science is in, and multitasking doesn’t work unless of course, you’re a computer.
Special thanks to the Economic Times and the amazing infographic below:
Don’t even think of multitasking unless you’re the 2% of the population that benefits from it.
Multitasking ruins your productivity, can lower your IQ, and cost you time.
So what do you do if you want to be successful and you stop multitasking?
Be in the moment.
Focus on one thing at a time.
You can read about it in Gary Keller’s book The One Thing.
And wink, wink, nudge, nudge while you’re focusing on one thing, why not apply some gratitude!
13. Stop Being A ‘Yes’ Person
“When you say yes to others make sure you are not saying no to yourself” – Paulo Coelho
If you want to be successful, stop being a ‘Yes’ person.
I’ll qualify this. In this post, I encourage you to say ‘yes’ to everything. When you first start out, you don’t know what you don’t know.
When I started Embanet, I said ‘yes’ to everything. I was in experimentation mode.
Once I began to get traction and results I said ‘no’ more than I said ‘yes.’
The result, you ask?
Saying ‘no’ gave me the time and focus so I could build a 8 figure company.
Saying ‘no’ isn’t easy.
Social programming guilts you into saying ‘yes’ when you should be saying ‘no.’
To help you get around this, ask yourself this one question every time you’re about to offer up your time:
“Will this request move me one step closer to achieving my definite purpose?”
If you don’t have a definite purpose, time to create one. Read this article on what a definite purpose is and how to write one.
Take action and protect your time.
Still with me? Splendid, we’re almost done.
I’ve saved the last for best with the two most overlooked success killers.
14. Stop Being The Unsung Hero
“If you don’t toot your own horn, don’t complain that there’s no music” – Guy Kawasaki
If you want to be successful, stop being the unsung hero.
Both society and social programming have it wrong.
You’re told not to talk about your accomplishments and to keep to yourself.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I’m not advocating to be narcissistic about how great you are to anyone and everyone.
This is also not a hall pass to take credit for other people’s help and efforts. That’s a one-way ticket to failure when playing the long game.
What I am encouraging you to do is to talk about your efforts and accomplishments.
Don’t be shy to let the appropriate people know what you’re up to and the specifics of what you’re doing.
Why you ask?
A Harvard study found people place more value on something when they know the work that went into it.
The same study calls this the ‘labor illusion.’
The study found, and I quote:
In one experiment we conducted, participants searched on a simulated travel website for a flight. Some watched the typical boring progress bar. Others could see each airline being canvassed. The second service received higher ratings, even when those using it were forced to wait for as long as a minute.
The Story Behind The Story
Here’s the story behind the story. One of the co-authors of the Harvard study, Mike Norton, was a student of Dan Ariely.
Who is Dan Ariely, you ask?
Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist at Duke University. Back in 2010, Dan locked himself out of his place.
Ariely calls a locksmith who shows up and in mere seconds and unlocks the door.
Ariely thought he was being ripped off when the locksmith presented him the bill. Afterall, Ariely reasoned, the locksmith spent only seconds opening the door.
Now here’s where things get interesting. Ariely struck up a conversation with the locksmith.
The locksmith shared that when he first became a locksmith, it took him much longer to pick a lock. Often times he would even break the lock!
Despite this, people did not complain about the locksmith’s price. In fact, some clients even gave a tip!
Ariely has stumbled onto something.
Ariely discovered that people value effort as much or more than service or utility.
Before you move on, stop for a moment, and re-read the sentence above.
If you want to be successful sing your praise. Toot your own horn. Talk about your accomplishment.
Ariely shares his story here.
By the way, did I mention that it took me a week to research this post, write the content, find the pictures, edit the materials, and publish? 🙂
15. Stop NOT Asking For What You Want
“If you can’t communicate it’s like winking at a girl in the dark” – Warren Buffett
If you want to be successful, stop not asking for what you want.
Unfortunately, for most people, the song ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ is their anthem.
Once again, social programming and society are wrong.
Social programming teaches you to be polite and to not be selfish by asking for what you want.
As with anything in life, moderation is key, particularly when expressing your feelings.
My suggestion to ask for what you want is not a hall pass to be a blithering, selfish, and obnoxious person.
You know what I’m talking about. The person who steamrolls over everyone in pursuit of personal goals that benefit nobody.
Before I share how to ask for what you want, let’s make a few assumptions.
- Your goals benefit other people besides yourself
- Asking for what you want doesn’t put people in harm’s way
- Getting what you want helps you to be better for everyone around you
How To Get What You Want
In her Financial Times article, Lucy Kellaway gives sage advice on how to ask for what you want.
Kellaway suggests that you:
“start with please and thank you, then spoon on the flattery.”
Kellaway goes on to suggest that when you ask for what you want, you do the following:
- Cut right to the chase
- Use flattery
- Ensure the recipient feels both wanted AND needed
Well said, Lucy!
Here are a few more strategies that I’ve found effective:
- Be as precise and as clear as possible and provide details and timelines
- In asking for what you want, think about how you can be of service to the other person
- Shoot for the moon and don’t hold back on what you’re asking
- Ask for what you want in a voice of confidence
- When talking to someone in person, wait for the other person to respond. Don’t say a word, even if there’s an awkward silence.
While you may not always get what you want, you’ll never know until you ask.
In my own experience, I find that most people want to help you if they know what you want.
If you want to be successful, ask for what you want. Know that getting what you want on your journey is making a difference.
If you want to be successful, know that you already have everything you need within you, right now.
For most entrepreneurs, the two things that usually stand in the way between them and success are:
- The inability to find their acres of diamonds
- Behaviors and a way of thinking that is a success killer
In building my 8 figure business right out of school, with no money or experience, I made mistakes. A lot of them.
But in the process, I learned what not to do.
The great news is that I’ve done the heavy lifting for you.
This post isn’t a theory. I’m in the trenches fighting the fight.
What you’ve read is your operating manual, if you want to be successful.
So, now what?
In its purest form, success isn’t complicated.
In my experience, the simplest things are the most powerful, elegant, and brilliant.
Go through the list of 15 success killers and find out which ones you’re doing.
If it makes you feel better when I first started my journey I was guilty of doing all fifteen success killers.
Start at the top of the list, pick a success killer, and stop doing it.
Don’t move on to the next success killer until you’ve mastered the one you’re working on.
Your success is waiting for you.
The only question is, are you ready?
Your Raving Fan,
Quote of the Day:
“An amateur practices until he can play it correctly, a professional practices until he can’t play it incorrectly.” – Unknown
Success Resources – Books to Read and Prosper