Provocative title, right? A step by step checklist for aspiring people driven to succeed? Perhaps a dig at those whom would be considered to be unsuccessful? Make of it what you will. I don’t consider myself to be either successful or unsuccessful, as I’ll be explaining throughout this post. If anything this is a checklist for my own benefit and if it helps sparks some sort of curiosity in others then great.
Firstly though, the term ‘success’ is very vague. I am going to state what I believe to be the definition of success. Here it is: ‘Self-actualisation’. There are many ways of defining this. We could state that it is the realisation and application of one’s own talents. An individual living in accordance to their own highest values. It could simply be defined as someone that lives their life from their heart. All of the above centre around one key element; fulfilment.
The Humanist philosopher, Abraham Maslow, designed his original hierarchy of needs with ‘Self-actualisation’ as the pinnacle of his well designed pyramid. However, he later went on to criticise his own work by stating ‘Self-transcendence’ as the new peak whereby an individual would give themselves to a higher purpose bigger than themselves. The way I see it, there is no reason why these two cannot be one and the same. Combining one’s own talents with grateful service to others is surely the recipe for fulfilment and ultimately success.
Before we get to that stage though, in my humble opinion, and through my own limited mindset over the years, there are certain actions and principles required in order to travel the path to the promised land. I’ll openly admit that I am far from this myself and through studying successful people for the last seven years I have realised that adopting many of their methods will help me get to where I want to go.
You would have a hard time convincing me that we are not here to lead a magnificent life on our own terms. However you would define that to be. And quite frankly, it baffles me why so many people aren’t living their life doing what they love, or at least working towards it. Although that is none of my business, of course. So without further ado, here are some success principles in no particular order. Successful people…
An obvious one to get us started and one that surprisingly gets overlooked. From a personal perspective, whenever I have felt my survival threatened in some way I have got my head down and grafted. It is a trait I am proud of and know that having it in my locker makes me feel that little bit more certain about my long term future. This is because I know the hard work will pay itself back in the long run.
One question that I ask of myself based on following content from Gary Vaynerchuk is, would I work fifteen hours a day for ten years in order to create my dream life. Absolutely yes! Reason being is that I have come to realise that life is long. We can bring up the old cliché of getting hit by a bus tomorrow making life very short. Life is long. We have so much time. That is not to say to waste it! However, knuckling down for 10-15% of your entire life to really set yourself up and start building momentum for the long run is surely worth it. No?
This leads nicely onto our next point of patience. Growing up I was the least patient person on the planet. I wanted everything there and then. When I went self employed for the first time around seven years ago I realised just how impatient I actually was. I would do all I could to create some kind of success for myself. All to no avail.
It is only recently that I have come to appreciate the necessity of patience. We have a lot of time, as I have already mentioned. I was always so anxious of time and ended up taking on so many things because I thought that was the answer. The truth was, I was splitting my focus far too much and throwing my toys out the pram when things weren’t going my way.
The outcome I want for my life is currently being lived by so many in the fields of personal development and human potential. It took quite some time for the penny to drop that most of these people are around twice my age. It was foolish of me to compare myself to different generations and then beat myself up for not matching up to their level of success. Good things come to those who wait.
…enjoy the process
When getting to grips with developing patience I noticed that I was very achievement driven and less enthused by the journey of such achievement. I always remember reaching milestones throughout my life and thinking to myself “now what?”. I feel as though I am shifting more into loving the journey even more than the achievements that will come along with it.
That is not to say that the achievements aren’t important. I just seem to get this feeling that we are here to grow and evolve. ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ co-author, Jack Canfield was once asked what the meaning of life meant to him. His response was that the only thing we know for sure is that the universe is expanding therefore wouldn’t it make sense to keep growing yourself and expanding your conscious awareness?
…work on themselves
I couldn’t imagine a day going by whereby I don’t work on myself in some way. I spend pretty much all my free time developing my body, mind and spirit. It all started out when I was struggling to make ends meet seven years ago when newly self-employed. Now I cannot believe my own luck that I have found this path.
What you’ll find in so many instances is that successful people will not take their knowledge and results for granted. They will always look to grow, develop and evolve. They appreciate that nothing stands still for very long. Change happens regularly and they learn how to adapt in order to move forward.
When you’re in the trenches of business ownership or self employment it can very often feel as though there is nothing else going on in the world. Your focus has to be fully on the task at hand. From my experience, my attention was always elsewhere whenever I was with my mates or girlfriend. I just couldn’t seem to relax because I felt as if I should be doing something productive.
Even though things are a little bit easier today, I have come to accept that I can’t do all the things that I used to find fun. And I am ok with that now. To be honest I have moved on a little from wanting to do so many things. My main priority is my journey to success. There will be times here and there when I have a break which will of course be welcome. However, I now appreciate what I would rather dedicate the biggest amount of my time to.
Right this moment we are experiencing one of the hottest weeks on record in the UK. As much as sitting out in the sun is relaxing and pleasurable, I am indoors writing this post. I am not here because I have to be, I am here because I want to be. Perhaps I’ll grab an hour in the sun later today. Right now all I want to do is put this post together and then carry on with my studies.
…say no to things
Saying no to nights out, weekends away and most other social scenarios is one thing. Saying no to work is a whole other. Anything that provided me with an income I would say yes to. What I was blissfully unaware of at the time was just how much productivity I was losing. Spreading my focus too thin meant that even though I was constantly busy, I wasn’t actually getting anywhere.
Taking an honest look at my diary I realised that I could let things go and focus on a smaller number of projects. Giving up Personal Training for example and focusing just on tutoring and assessing opened the door for a great opportunity with one provider and my income doubled overnight. It is scary at first to turn things down but when making the commitment to make something work I am pretty confident that it will work out well.
Streamlining your working life can have great carry over benefits to other areas of your life. When I did this and freed up more time I looked around for whatever I could find to get rid of. Clutter was the obvious choice. I had a great clear out getting rid of so many things. I have stumbled upon minimalism and haven’t looked back.
Doing so made me feel as though my mind was clearing at the same time. Letting go of so much has been a very liberating experience. All of a sudden I have a lot more time and space. The universe would be so proud! Given this new found luxury, I have found myself having greater focus on fewer things that once demanded so much of my attention.
…have greater clarity
Through the reduction of so many things I had become attached to I started to realise what was most important to me and it was no surprise that it was my own personal development. Therefore I am beginning to structure my time and my life around doing what is most important to me. One day I want to coach and teach all the things that I will have succeeded at so now I get the chance to accelerate to this point.
With greater clarity comes less distractions. It is so easy to check your phone every five minutes. I catch myself doing it all the time. Raising your awareness to what is really important can help to reduce the time you waste doing unimportant tasks. I use YouTube for a lot of my education and sometimes find myself using it for entertainment by watching stand up comedy clips or music videos. I got into the habit of deleting these things from my history so that they stop appearing in my recommendations.
Whenever put in a social setting and I start talking about human potential I am met with so much resistance. People seem to think that your capabilities are set at birth and that is your destiny accounted for. I couldn’t disagree more. I don’t claim to have achieved much, but at almost 32 years of age I have gone way beyond my own expectations and what was expected of me by others.
This is because I am relentless in my pursuit of success. I’ll have many falls along the way, I’m sure. And there is no way I’ll ever give up when they happen. Learning doesn’t stop when we leave school. If anything it starts. Having immersed myself in the field of personal development I have begun to focus on possibiltles. Exploring the fields of quantum physics has made me realise that ‘reality’ as we think we know it, is anything but real.
I consider myself to be of the existentialist mindset whereby we all have our own free will to create a life that we desire. Dr Joe Dispenza talks about how the brain processes 400 billions bits of information per second but we only have an awareness of 2000 bits. Therefore could it be possible that we’re missing a lot of reality? Those 2000 bits are based on the conditioning that we have had since birth. Be aware of your limits because they are not actually yours!
Having a big vision will bring to the fore its very own challenges. When pursuing something meaningful, in order for us to have a refined vision and get clearer, we will meet with challenges that help us achieve that. From my own personal experience of developing my intelligence I have had to overcome a stored belief that I wasn’t very clever. The more I saturate my mind with information the more it sticks and then I move on to understand certain topics on a deeper level.
An entrepreneur will accept both sides of the coin when building businesses. They understand that they cannot have it all their own way. Otherwise what would be the point? When operating from a lower level of consciousness we will do whatever it takes to seek pleasure and avoid pain. My advice would be to dismiss this hedonistic mentality as quickly as possible and start seeking out inspiring challenges yourself before you’re met with ones that don’t inspire you.
…believe in themselves
During a recent session with my coach he helped me identify a lot of long held insecurities. I started to notice just how I had let insecurities get in the way of allowing myself to be myself. I have often found that things are quick and easy to fix when you become of aware of them. It is the awareness in the first place that is sometimes difficult to obtain.
I have since been using an affirmation in a bid to change this thought process to one of confidence. It is making a huge difference so far. Successful people believe they are going to make it even if the odds are against them and no one gives them a chance. With a willingness to never give up, they will get there in the end.
…believe they deserve
This has been a difficult one for me to get to grips with in all honesty. Everywhere you turn there is someone successful that is being criticised for seemingly having everything while so many others have little to nothing. I used to be one of the people criticising and for me personally it was pretty much out of jealousy.
Operating with a mindset of successful people being ‘bad’ in some way was preventing me from getting closer to success. I was playing out the role of the victim with everyone else. I have come to realise that the people that have the most typically give the most. Sure there may be exceptions to the rule. On the whole, a successful person is someone that has most likely built a business that serves great numbers of people while providing jobs for others. Why wouldn’t they deserve the riches?
…don’t care what other people think
Following on from the last point, I kept holding myself back because I was too scared that I would be an outcast among society and my own social circle. Again, another one that I have found difficult to let go of but now am starting to care less about what people may say about me because I am not responsible for anyone else’s train of thought.
As far as I am concerned, I don’t need anyone to like me. I was once very dependent on people’s acceptance of me. Now it really makes no difference as I develop a deeper relationship with myself. I am starting to focus more on what I think and what I want from life. No one will ever be able to please everyone so just go for it. I am led to believe that the opinions of others is the number one thing that holds people back from living a life they truly want to live. Time to let go of the shackles.
In all honesty, how objectively do we actually look at things anyway? If you’re being criticised then reframe it. Maybe that person has a point and you can learn from them. If this is the case then it would only be your own ego that would stop you from taking their points on board. Maybe that person’s ‘2000’ bits is conditioned in a way that completely opposes your viewpoints. Who is right and who is wrong? It doesn’t matter.
I have had many a time when I have doubted the knowledge that I have been obtaining over the recent years. This is because I see so few people living in accordance with success principles. I started to wonder whether I was kidding myself. And that maybe I am not cut out for success after all. Now I ignore other people’s opinions because I know I am right and my results are beginning to show.
While we’re on the topic of things I have been struggling with, this may be the biggest one. Boy, did I love a good old moan. Those 2000 bits of information that circulate around my conscious awareness were all based around what is wrong with the world and how it and everyone in it was against me. It was brilliant fuel for my victim mentality.
Successful people avoid judgement of themselves and others. Instead they focus on service and give the people what they want. They have a greater amount of context and tend to have less opinions. Again, it is a such a liberating experience when you begin to let go of complaining. I’m not completely out the woods with this one yet though. FFS!
I cannot claim to be an expert at this one either. Reason being is that I found myself in such a low place that I knew I needed to sort my own life out first. You have my word that when I feel I am set up then all I will want to do is help others. Successful people know that there is plenty to go around and are more than willing to help when asked.
A couple of years ago, I went through my LinkedIn contacts and picked out well established entrepreneurs and messaged them cold. I was blown away by the help, support and advice that I was being offered. Many were willing to share their contacts with me and even made phone calls to people on my behalf. It is easy to have pre-conceived ideas about successful people but quite simply, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
…are solution focused
In his book ‘Secrets of the Millionaire Mind’, author T. Harv Eker gives the definition of an entrepreneur as “someone that solves problems for people for a profit”. Problems exist everywhere. An entrepreneur cares enough to go identify them and create a solution. Good luck to them for coining it in along the way. More power to them I say.
Part of our nature is to solve problems because that is how we evolve. Leaving it as an obstacle will stunt the growth of humanity. Look how far we have come as a species yet we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. James Altucher has a daily ritual of thinking up ten ideas in order to strengthen his ‘idea muscle’. This has led to him consulting with big businesses everywhere. There is always a way!
…are mentally strong
We’re really uncovering all the things that have held me back to this point now. Mental toughness is not only a very admirable trait in my eyes, it is also a vital one. The successful person has the wisdom to know that good times and bad times come in equal measure. However, they are able to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. They are undeterred by events and merely see them as an another obstacle to overcome.
I feel I have always been resilient to a degree. For example, I am known to be a hard worker and I have great physical stamina. The mental toughness required to succeed from a business perspective, let’s say, has been of immense difficulty for me to develop. Thankfully I am beginning to see the tide turning now and it ties in a lot with ignoring other people’s opinions and raising my own deserve level.
Mental toughness also ties in with emotional stability. Something I have been absolutely terrible at. Until we get control of and manage our emotions, I am convinced that success will elude us. Being emotional takes us into our limbic system within the brain. Yet it is our most evolved brain, the neocortex, that we want to be tapping into. It is our executive centre.
Within the limbic system is a little structure known as the Amygdala which is shaped like an almond. The Amygdala sends out our fear response to the body to prime us for danger. In this instance we are reactive rather than proactive. We end up making rash decisions that likely will compound our existing fear and create a vicious circle.
I have spent the last seven years living in fear of some kind of apocalypse. It is nothing more than my emotions giving me a hard time which goes back to my insecurities. Once I identified this through a recent coaching session I have been able to start shifting my focus more into a confident mindset than an insecure one. Allowing fear to rule your life will deteriorate your health over time. It is wise to address it quick.
…manage money wisely
My biggest flaw of all. I have learned the hard way how to manage money and you’ll be amazed at the results. I am often flummoxed when people complain about money or constantly state they have no money for certain things. I am a little less forward about my new found knowledge in relation to money because I am met with so much resistance that I just cannot be bothered to argue. Now that my results are improving even more I am becoming justified to just go all in!
As a result of combining my out of control fears and deep rooted insecurities, I got myself into a lot of debt by going on courses, workshops, seminars etc, in a bid to become successful. I have no doubt that because of the connections and information that I collected during these programmes that they will pay themselves back in the long run. However, there was a long time whereby I was just sitting on that debt and worrying. Feeling hopeless.
I told myself that I would master this thing called wealth. And I wouldn’t stop. There may be people that think I’m money driven or greedy. That’s totally fine. Yet they wouldn’t have the full context as to why. I have my reasons and that is all that matters. We always have money for what we value. I shifted my values to that of saving and investing. I started with a £25 birthday cheque and within ten months I had saved over £12,000. This eased my concerns around money and my debt is almost gone.
The key is in paying yourself first before (yes, before!) any bills go out and commit to raising the amount every few months. This is where I am met with resistance. I’ll admit it is scary. You’ll be amazed at what happens to your finances when you begin to trust and apply this process. I am now in a position to seek out higher yielding interest accounts as my next step to wealth building.
Part of how I define success is self-reliance. This is why I am not particularly into politics because I have no doubt in my mind that we have everything we need to sustain ourselves. We have an intellect, a physical body and a value system. It is easy to point the finger at a person or situation and then claim to be the victim yourself. I should know, I had been doing it my whole life.
There will come a time, hopefully sooner rather than later, when you say to yourself that enough is enough and start knuckling down. This is what I had to do. I knew that if I wanted to elevate myself to greater levels of consciousness then I would need to take full responsibility for myself, my actions and anything in my life.
The obvious choice for me was finances as mentioned above. I want to be financially independent in the next 3-5 years. In my particular example, finances are where my self-reliance begin. Slowly but surely I am beginning to unhook whatever dependency I have had on others. Not only would this free me, but it would free them as well.
…have self awareness
Some people are fortunate enough to have self awareness from a young age. Tiger Woods first picked up a golf club at the age of two. Mozart observed his father play violin and began himself at three years old. I, myself, am somewhat of a late bloomer. I went through my life being completely unconscious. I coasted through school simply by day dreaming. I went through job after job of just clock watching.
I needed a wake up call. Self-employment and debt was just the ticket. I have always been a non-conformist and rebelled against authority so working for myself was always the logical choice. Now I’m obsessed with human potential. I study several topics that relate to personal growth and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. Being able to live my life on my own terms and then teach others how to do the same is what gets me up every morning.
Self awareness also relates to flaws as well. Knowing what you’re good at and what you’re bad at will help you focus on your strengths more and delegate out anything else. This is what helps build momentum. Deep down we all know what we’d love to do. We just may not have brought it to our awareness yet.
Having self-awareness is the first step to greatness. Now comes the action part. The scary part. Yes it is horrible but it just needs to be done. I remember when I started out as a Personal Trainer. No one was going to build my business for me and so it was up to me to approach people on the gym floor and attempt to build a client base. I froze every time I tried to step forward. Then I would make excuses, get angry and blame everyone else but me.
My fragile ego couldn’t handle potential rejection so I did all I could to avoid those situations. Well it only meant I was being rejected by money instead. The truth is that we all have to start somewhere. Some times you just have to say to yourself “f**k it”, and just do it. What is the worst that can happen? Is it going to matter in a year from now? I have built up enough embarrassing moments in my life that I am actually becoming immune to looking like a complete t**t. I heard once that the key to self-confidence is to not get so attached to your own dignity. Wise words.
As a budding Physicist, it would be remiss of me not discuss Newton’s Laws of Motion when talking about action. We have so much potential energy stored within us and it is only by applying force i.e. taking action, that we can turn that into kinetic energy and overcome inertia. We can sit and dream as much as we would like but it will only happen if we get off our a**e and do something. Ultimately, every decision we make comes down to just one of two choices; love or fear.
…make their own luck
Hard work and action taking will lead to results eventually. This is something that I am sure everyone can agree on. At least I would hope! Very often, unsuccessful people will look at successful people and say that they are lucky because they have all this success. This reminds me of the quote “The harder I work, the more luck I have.” Believed to be attributed to Thomas Jefferson.
When you’re focused on one chief aim you will centre your awareness around this. I am convinced that we create our own reality and that the reality we ‘see’ is merely a projection of the images we have stored in our mind. Within the brainstem we have what is called the Reticular Activating System which mediates our overall level of consciousness. The RAS is responsible for filtering our reality based on our belief and value systems.
Remember those 2000 bits of information out of 4 billion that I mentioned earlier? Well start paying attention to what they are showing you. Then train yourself to start seeing what you want to see. I have caught myself saying the phrase “knowing my luck” more times than I can remember. Be very aware of how you talk to yourself and start to change it. We can create whatever thought process and whatever ‘reality’ we want to.
…do what others aren’t willing to
I’ve never seen an episode of Game of Thrones. I have no idea what is is about. Reason being is because I’m typically working or working on myself. I see every spare moment as an opportunity to improve. Yes I’ll watch the odd thing on TV and a football match here and there because sometimes I feel the need to step out in order to step back in stronger. The point I am making is that I keep entertainment as a low priority and education as a high priority.
As I mentioned previously, I will forgo a lot of the stuff I used to deem as fun in order to manifest the bigger picture. I’ll do the nitty gritty stuff because it needs to get done. If it moves me forward then I’ll do it. In my line of work there is a lot of back office admin. I don’t like doing it because it can be tedious and boring. I’ll get it done because it will take me one step closer.
When thinking big it is easy to get caught up in it all without understanding that the mundane stuff needs doing until we are in a position to be able to delegate it. Starting out on a journey may be exciting, and of course it is. However, until you face up to the fact that you’ll have to really get down and graft you’ll never get to experience what true success feels like. That I am sure of.
…live by their values
Values is a topic that is very misunderstood as far as I am concerned. Values are individual, not collective. People often cite character traits or social ideals such as honesty and integrity as their values. If a war was going on and you needed to feed your family, you would completely neglect every moral you ever thought you had and do whatever it took to feed them.
Values are as individual as your finger prints. Your life demonstrates what you value. The way I see it is that the belief system can very often override the value system. Beliefs are what we have been conditioned with. They are someone else’s. Values are our own and what our heart truly desires.
Finding out what your values are will help in your pursuit of self-awareness. Values come as a result of perceived voids that we have encountered in our life according to ‘Values Factor’ author Dr John Demartini. In my case it was intelligence and awareness. I had no idea what was going on in my childhood. All I did was play football. I knew nothing about anything. I didn’t pay attention in school, I was never fully present in discussions with my peers. I lived so unconsciously it was ridiculous.
Now I am on a journey to ever greater levels of consciousness. That is my ‘magnificent obsession’, my ‘chief aim’ my ‘telos’. Getting into so much debt taught me to value money and build wealth. Now I am able to link the two and see how my wealth building can serve my great mission of raising consciousness in myself and subsequently others. If you gave me millions right now, the first thing I’d do is immerse myself in education including investment strategies. As appealing as the fancy lifestyle is, my driving force is to better myself, grow, evolve and share.
When you are grateful for what you have you get more to be grateful for. This is because your RAS sees only abundance and not scarcity. This is a very difficult one for me to apply. I am still relinquishing my default behaviours. The key is instead of having what you want, want what you have. Sounds similar, right? They are worlds apart. It would be wise to really study that statement.
I could easily carry on living on that lower level of consciousness whereby I would bemoan the hardships that I have encountered. The truth is that without them I don’t think I would be moving towards what I would deem to be a fulfilling life. I have gone down the rabbit hole now and there is no going back.
My dad dying when I was very young gave rise to my disdain for authority. This meant that it was inevitable that I would go off and work for myself. In doing so it brought to the surface all my insecurities and meant that I would really have to go and figure out as much as I could about myself and life as a whole to be able to get anywhere. Now I have such a big vision of myself that I couldn’t imagine not working towards it.
Successful people know that everything happens for a reason and it all serves in some way. Even the stuff we perceive as ‘bad’. One by one they are all guiding us to be balanced, to be present and help us along our journey toward our destiny. When I put it like that I am able to feel gratitude and know that I wasn’t meant for a ‘mediocre’ life. I am meant for greatness. Everyone is. I know it.
When letting go and just allowing yourself to be, that is where the magic happens. It is easier said than done. Gratitude for how things are and knowing that it is what it is meant to be can help to alleviate stress and improve our wellbeing. Bringing ourselves out of the limbic system and into the neocortex means that we can think clearly.
Just how in control are we? Well, look at your hand. That is made up of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles. Zooming in even further it is made up of cells. They are the building blocks of the entire body. Cells are made up of molecules which are made up of atoms. On the subatomic level we have protons, neutrons and electrons.
Protons and neutrons are made up of quarks. String theory states that quarks are made up of vibrating ‘strings’. Max Planck, one of the founders of Quantum Mechanics famously stated that there is no such thing as ‘matter’. Inside everything is just empty space. We are nothing but electromagnetic waves that vibrate at a certain frequency. When we follow our heart and do what is most meaningful to us we vibrate at a high frequency and we draw in the people, situations and events that help us get to the next level.
Gratitude is the key that unlocks the heart. Having spent a lot of time working on eradicating my judgement process I have found myself feeling much more at ease with how things are. Less stressed and anxious. Though I am not completely there yet I have noticed a profound difference compared to where I was even just a year ago.
I am convinced that within each of us there is a divine genius waiting to be explored and unleashed. You would have a hard time convincing me otherwise. What prevents people from realising this is the desire to just go for it, accept the ups and downs along the way and be grateful for all that happens.
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed”. – Booker T. Washington