One of the most confusing things I’ve ever encountered in my studies is the fact that we all have a different definition of what excellence or personal success is. For some, being successful means making a million dollars, yet for others, a mere million would be failure.
Success for some people is knowing they have raised children who are morally outstanding people, who live with truth and sincerity. For others, being successful is the confidence that when they die, they will enter the gates of heaven.
It may be looking in a mirror and seeing a physically fit person. It may be owning a home with a white picket fence or staying married to their one and only.
The definition of success varies as much as the people who define it.
How to Achieve Success
Rather than try to define what success or excellence is, I prefer to focus on the common denominators in all the different standards and criteria for success.
Success is achieved through a few simple behaviors that you repeat daily.
Nothing more. Nothing less. When you think of any successful person, no matter what your criteria for success, you’ll realize that the person has done specific things consistently in order to reach such a level of success.
Those things I define as behaviors.
Call the things what you will – disciplines, actions, behaviors, or habits – the fact is, people who succeed do specific things repeatedly to get them there.
The Myth of Overnight Success
Despite what we sometimes hear, nobody wakes up an overnight success.
True, someone may suddenly receive a phenomenal reward for their efforts or explode with a display of success, but what is not readily apparent is that the explosion was the result of careful, repeated, and disciplined behavior. In other words, they were working towards that “overnight success” long before that one magical day.
People who are successful in anything – parenting, sales, relationships, art, investments, etc. – are doing specific things (behaviors) each day that lead to their success, and often, those behaviors are easy and simple.
Think about a single area in your life where you are successful, and ask yourself, “What small things do I do each day that allows my consistent success?” If you examine this closely, you will find simple behaviors related to that success.
Related: How to Think Your Way to Success
How To Avoid Failure
I also offer you this simple formula for failure so you can learn how to avoid it:
Failure is achieved through a few simple behaviors that you repeat daily.
Yes, it’s the same formula as success.
Failure is rarely, if ever, a colossal phenomenon that happens as a result of a single bad behavior. Despite what some might say, nobody becomes a “failure” overnight.
True, some people may “crash” or lose a great deal of net worth in one night, but it was because they consistently made errors in judgment (bad behaviors) about investments or futures. No one ever wakes up and says, “My God! I gained 60 pounds last night!” That person made a few errors in judgment and behaved in a certain way with regard to their diet. Those behaviors repeated daily lead them to failure in maintaining their ideal weight. It happened over time.
Related Article: How to Achieve Your Goal
The question is how can you be assured that your simple behaviors are going to produce success instead of failure? Or more important, how can you stop producing negative behaviors and start producing behaviors for success?
Three Tips For Success
Tip #1: Have an uncomfortable conversation at least once a day.
Tim Ferris, in The 4 Hour Work Week, says if you look at successful people in any area they are able to have the conversations that others can’t. Therefore, focus on questions and statements like, “would you like to buy my product?” “I need your help!” “Will you marry me?” “Kids let’s talk about drugs.” “I’m no longer in love with you.” “Your performance needs to improve.” “Let’s talk about sex.” The more you condition yourself to have those types of conversations, the easier life will become.
Tip#2: Schedule your vacations – they are non-negotiable.
All too often people see a vacation as something optional that they will do when they have time, which never happens. The most successful people play as hard as they work. It’s not a coincidence. It’s a formula.
Tip #3: Ask better questions.
Start your day with questions that inspire you: “how can I make an impact today?” “How can I exemplify excellence at my office?” “How much money will I rightly earn today?” “How fun could exercise be?” “What are three things I love about my spouse/partner?” Add questions that help you gain a greater perspective on what happened. “What did I learn today?” “What was I proud of today?” “How lucky am I?”
Related Article: 5 Steps to Break Through Self-Sabotage
Take a look at your patterns closely. What negative behaviors do you keep repeating? Is it overeating? Sleeping in? Overspending? Procrastination? Cheating? Are there behaviors that you have in your life that you wish to be rid of? Are there behaviors that you wish to perform that will lead to ultimate success in your life?
Remember, there are no magic pills that will make you successful or happy. It comes down to making a conscious decision to create behaviors that are supportive of where you want to go.
Dr. Topher Morrison is the author of the book Stop Chasing Perfection and Settle for Excellence, and is managing partner of Key Person of Influence (KPI) USA. KPI events have been called the “Entrepreneur Brand Accelerator” and feature mega-successful business owners sharing their knowledge in five key areas for business growth.
Originally published 4/29/13 and updated 11/8/13.
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