1. Identifying their strengths and weaknesses
Successful people have learned what they’re really good at, and do their best to avoid the things they’re weak in. The reason why it’s important to identify your areas of weakness is not to try and fix your shortcomings, but rather, to focus on investing in areas of personal talent in order to be the best version of yourself.
Too many talented people spend their lives trying to work on areas of weakness rather than investing in their individual strengths. Understanding yourself is one of the first building blocks of success, and it isn’t until you truly understand yourself that you can fully embrace your purpose.
2. Learning to accept failure as part of success
Someone I greatly respect, recently told me, “Andy, you’re too safe. You don’t take risk. It’s risk that keeps us accountable to achieving greatness and what makes us interesting. It’s easy to be safe. Don’t be safe!” Those words ring in my ears every time I’m faced with the decision to play it safe or push the limits.
Don’t give into the lie that failure is a sign of impossibility or something that can’t be achieved. If this were true, then there would be little barrier between ordinary and extraordinary. Average and remarkable. Good and great. The distance between the two are measured by the number of mistakes, failures and dead-ends along the way.
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” – Ken Robinson
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho
“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis
“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki
3. Making each day intentional – Remaining present
It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “Lost time is never found again.” Those who seem to live the most successful lives also seem to be the most intentional and present. They understand the value of each hour and have a framework for prioritizing the things that require their attention on a daily basis. Even if that thing requiring their attention is sleep.
Remaining present is becoming increasingly harder because people and devices have more access to our attention than ever before. Learning to manage distractions, give complete focus to one thing and stay mentally present on a daily basis will result in a massive uptick in personal growth.
There are a million tools and opinions on how to be productive, but beyond just being productive, be intentional and present.
4. On-Going personal growth
Something that remains consistent with successful people is their commitment to on-going personal growth. I have heard people commit to reading a book a week. Some lead a forum on topics they want to become experts in. Others replace watching TV with watching TEDTalks or online training courses. The act of learning something new is as entertaining as binge watching the latest season of their favorite show. And it isn’t how you learn or the level at which you commit, but simply a commitment to never stop learning.
”Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Here’s a great article on Daily Habits and Personal Growth.
5. Doing the things that bring them joy
The questions of, “If time and money weren’t an issue, what would you do and why?” has become a viral question, and for good reason. The majority of working adults, when polled, have said that they don’t love what they do. That’s simply unacceptable.
Those who have achieved a high level of success have found ways to incorporate what they love into what they do on a daily, weekly or quarterly basis. They give time to things that bring them joy and as a result they enjoy what they do. Whether it’s coaching your kid’s soccer team, hosting an event for veterans, volunteering your time or doing overseas philanthropy – successful people recognize the importance of investing in what brings them joy.
6. Surrounding themselves with people better than they are
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. The greatest people in the world have done the best job at surrounding themselves with greatness, but how? I’m convinced that the only way you can surround yourself with greatness is through humility, pursuit and fearlessness.
You’re required to leave your bubble of comfort and step into a vulnerable place of unfamiliarity. Ask questions, present yourself as someone who is hungry to learn, passionate and willing to serve. For some this starts in college. For others, it requires something more drastic, like moving across-country.
For those who have made the sacrifices and decisions required to surround themselves with greatness – their decision almost always comes without regret.
7. Living a life of generosity
Generosity rarely comes as a result of tremendous success. It is a position of the heart prior to achieving success. More interestingly, generosity is so closely tied to the things that make up success that colleges like Notre Dame are committing entire initiatives to the “Science of Generosity“.