By Scott Westerman
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“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” Dale Carnegie
Life isn’t really that complicated. Find your passion and chase it with reckless abandon.
I guess it’s a -little- more complicated than that. But what if you could find a formula that would point you in the right direction?
Richard St. John calls himself an average guy who found success doing what he loved. He was on his way to a conference when a young girl on the plane asked him, “What really leads to success?” He realized that although he had enjoyed success, he couldn’t describe how he did it.
So he spent the next ten years researching it, contemplating it, and distilling it into The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common. These principles are based on more than 500 interviews with the famous and not so famous who have defined success in their own terms and are living it every day. Here they are:
1) Passion – Passion is at the center of happiness. The question I always get around to asking everyone is, “What would you do if you could work for love and not for money?” Answer that one and you’re on your way. As St. John discovered, “If you do it for love, the money comes anyway.”
2) Work – Hard work is the price we pay for success. There is no way around it. If you want it, you have to work for it. “Nothing worthwhile comes easily,” writes educator Hamilton Holt. “Work, continuous work and hard work, is the only way to accomplish results that last.” But here’s a secret about hard work: It comes more easily to the passionate. When you do what you love, you’re not a work-a-holic. You become what St. John calls a “Work-a-Frolic”.
3) Skill – Game developer Alex Garden simply says, “To be successful, put your nose down in something and get damn good at it.” And the only way to get good at something is to practice. Skillful people avoid obsolescence. They are always learning. Doctors call their work a practice. Those seeking enlightenment have a spiritual practice. The most elite athletes attribute their ability to practice. The main thing that stops most of us adults from trying anything new is that we don’t want to look bad doing it. But you have to be bad before you get good and the pathway to excellence starts on the practice field.
4) Focus – We all get the same 24 hours each day. Our success depends on how we use it. The great motivational coach, Tony Robbins puts it this way: “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” Success lies in the detail. Alexander Graham Bell sees focus as the ultimate magnifying glass. “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
6) Serve – The first success maxim I ever learned came from Earl Nightingale, “Our rewards in life will always be in direct proportion to our contribution, our service.” He went on to say, “Our compensation will always be in direct ratio to the difficulty of the job at hand, our ability to do it, and the ease with which we can be replaced.” Serve others something of value and you will be rewarded in kind.
7) Ideas – Ideas are the fuel that fires success. From automobiles to airplanes, from personal computers to Facebook, every innovation began with an idea. And winning ideas are more likely to be generated when you develop the habit of purposeful thinking. St. John’s idea generation process is based on six behaviors: Listen, Observe, Be Curious, Ask Questions, Problem Solve and Make Connections. Try doing all of these things for a couple of weeks and watch the ideas begin to flow.
And most importantly,
8 ) Persist – Persist through failure and setbacks. Persist through C.R.A.P, which St. John defines as Criticism, Rejection, Assholes and Pressure. Benjamin Franklin said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Herbert Kaufman wrote, “The habit of persistence is the habit of victory.” The world is littered with people who gave up on the threshold of success. When you think you can’t walk another mile, take one more step.
Want to incorporate these ideas into your life? Write them down. Describe them in your own words. Create action sentences to program your subconscious mind. And live them every day for the next month to turn actions into habits.
This is how successful people live. Why not live that way, too?
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