Rise and shine! Morning time just became your new best friend. Love it or hate it, utilizing the morning hours before work may be the key to a successful and healthy lifestyle. That’s right, early rising is a common trait found in many CEOs, government officials, and other influential people. Margaret Thatcher was up every day at 5 a.m.; Frank Lloyd Wright at 4 am and Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney wakes at 4:30am just to name a few. I know what you’re thinking – you do your best work at night. Not so fast. According to Inc. Magazine, morning people have been found to be more proactive and more productive. In addition, the health benefits for those with a life before work go on and on. Let’s explore 5 of the things successful people do before 8 am.
2. Map Out Your Day. Maximize your potential by mapping out your schedule for the day, as well as your goals and to dos. The morning is a good time for this as it is often one of the only quiet times a person gets throughout the day. The early hours foster easier reflection that helps when prioritizing your activities. They also allow for uninterrupted problem solving when trying to fit everything into your timetable. While scheduling, don’t forget about your mental health. Plan a 10 minute break after that stressful meeting for a quick walk around the block or a moment of meditation at your desk. Trying to eat healthy? Schedule a small window in the evening to pack a few nutritious snacks to bring to work the next day.
3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast. We all know that rush out the door with a cup of coffee and an empty stomach feeling. You sit down at your desk, and you’re already wondering how early that taco truck sets up camp outside your office. No good. Take that extra time in the morning to fuel your body for the tasks ahead of it. It will help keep your mind on what’s at hand and not your growling stomach. Not only is breakfast good for your physical health, it is also a good time to connect socially. Even five minutes of talking with your kids or spouse while eating a quick bowl of oatmeal can boost your spirits before heading out the door.
4. Visualization. These days we talk about our physical health ad nauseam, but sometimes our mental health gets overlooked. The morning is the perfect time to spend some quiet time inside your mind meditating or visualizing. Take a moment to visualize your day ahead of you, focusing on the successes you will have. Even just a minute of visualization and positive thinking can help improve your mood and outlook on your work load for the day.
5. Make Your Day Top Heavy. We all have that one item on our to do list that we dread. It looms over you all day (or week) until you finally suck it up and do it after much procrastination. Here’s an easy tip to save yourself the stress – do that least desirable task on your list first. Instead of anticipating the unpleasantness of it from first coffee through your lunch break, get it out of the way. The morning is the time when you are (generally) more well rested and your energy level is up. Therefore, you are more well equipped to handle more difficult projects. And look at it this way, your day will get progressively easier, not the other way around. By the time your work day is ending, you’re winding down with easier to dos and heading into your free time more relaxed. Success! – Forbes Magazine
You know what I’m talking about: those brief instances when you find yourself reflecting on lessons you’ve learned over the years. They may come professionally or personally. Sometimes they’re huge life lessons that really shake things up. Other times, they’re small things that are easily forgotten if not put to use.
I’m a firm believer that no one’s born a leader or expert. It’s the experiences we encounter that help transform us into better, brighter, and more successful versions of ourselves. For me, I started out as an entrepreneur, a move made with little thought at the nontraditional age of 16. Today, my experiences as a serial entrepreneur, CEO, leader, father, and husband have taught me a lot.
But imagine if you could bundle up the key lessons you’ve learned in your professional years and hand them to those just starting out. I want to do just that.
Here are seven things I’ve learned professionally that I was fortunate to gain, but wish I had known when I was just starting out:
1. Proactivity is a secret weapon. There’s this general stereotype I want to put an end to immediately: Jobs aren’t about waiting around and doing things as they’re assigned. Far too many people—even those with passion to spare—fall into this trap.
Begin building your proactive habits as soon as possible by seeking out ways to go above and beyond your role every day. This could mean kicking your projects to the next level, finding new ways to impact your company, or even just improving internal processes to make things run smoother. Proactivity is a crucial part of advancing your career.
2. Perfection isn’t attainable. Being a perfectionist and micromanaging others—even if they aren’t your direct reports—can be damaging. These are two things I personally struggled with early on. I learned quickly that people don’t like being told what to do, and good leadership and management don’t come from tweaking things to perfection. Instead, I learned to live by the 80/20 rule and ask questions to derive answers when it comes to managing others.
3. Great public speaking skills create influence. When I was just starting out, I had a mentor who took me under his wing. Tom Antion was a successful entrepreneur and great public speaker, but I never thought much of it until the time came for me to really dive into public speaking.
It’s important to understand that those who can speak well, be it in a company meeting or at a presentation, typically become trusted leaders. Never stop improving as a public speaker, even if it’s something you initially fear. If you have a strong voice and show confidence, authority will follow.
4. Work isn’t just about cashing your paycheck. If you’re in it for the money alone, you’re probably not going to get very far. Work is truly about passion—finding and doing what you love. Being driven by passion is an insanely beneficial motivator.
So, if you’re not passionate about the job you’re doing today, what can you do to find your passion? Would it be a new job? What about a new role within your company? Whatever it takes, find and pursue your passion sooner rather than later.
5. Seek out a mentor. As I stated above, I was fortunate enough to have started and fueled my career due to the guidance of a great mentor. If you don’t already have a mentor, it’s time to go out and find one.
You may find a mentor in someone within your company or a person you look up to in your industry. If you don’t already know of someone who would make a great mentor, there are plenty of websites, organizations, conferences and networking events that can hook you up with someone who shares your professional vision and can offer helpful advice.
6. Know what makes you better than the rest. The days of fitting into a professional mold are dead and gone.
Today, knowing what sets you apart from the crowd professionally is the way to build your career. Knowing your top skills and using them to establish your personal brand will catch the eye of employers and maybe even lead you to starting a business of your own.
7. Always risk it. We all know that risks and rewards go hand-in-hand. If you aren’t open to taking the occasional risk, you’re likely to get stuck in a flow that you can’t break from. This doesn’t always mean starting your own business or quitting your job for something less conventional. Taking risks often means overcoming your fears and reaching for opportunities you may have overlooked with more thinking.
I wish I had known these seven lessons when I was 25, but I’m thankful to be able to share them regardless. One thing’s for certain: there is never any time to stop learning and growing as a professional. -Ilya Pozin
What do you wish you had known professionally in your 20s?
Humans love routine. When it comes to achieving measurable goals, this means we tend to do what we’ve always done, how we’ve always done it, in the same order as always.
This also goes for our habits when working in teams. You’ve probably been working with your team long enough to feel like you know what to expect from them. You’ve developed habitual patterns in the way you interact together. And probably, the feeling is mutual. Maybe it’s time to shake up those impressions.
To be a better manager, it’s important to take risks and introduce needed improvements. This often means identifying what’s working and what needs improvement. Sometimes discovering those specifics is as simple as asking three questions:
What habits have gotten you where you are today?
What habits may be holding you back from reaching your next desired accomplishments?
Is it time to ask for feedback?
Taking a close look at your habits provides wonderful insight into what has worked so far. It allows you to make conscious changes. My friend and mentor, Marshall Goldsmith, wrote a book whose title says it all: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. What habits are you currently using that might be keeping you from reaching your next level of accomplishments?
Here are a few places to start: Do you start meetings on time? Do you listen to comments fully without interrupting? Do you ask clarifying questions? Do you look at the person talking or keep your eyes on your digital device? Do you offer acknowledgement for a job well done or for new ideas? What habits have you gotten into that serve you well? What habits need to be changed to help you move forward?
Next, ask yourself what you’re doing that is getting in the way of achieving your goals. I know an entrepreneur who recently realized he was using the first hour of his day to try and catch up on email and touch all his social media profiles. As a five-day experiment one week, he focused that hour in the morning only on reaching out to new vendors to support his buisiness. This one simple change allowed him to move his launch date up by three full weeks.
One way to discover what is and isn’t working well when it comes to your habits is to ask for feedback from those around you. Asking for feedback won’t signal that something is wrong. Rather, it shows you are open to new ideas and approaches.
Asking for feedback can also fast-track your efforts. Feedback can maximize your focus, energy and time so that you get more of the right things done. Time and again, I’ve seen how entrepreneurs who were doing fairly well managed to supersize their productivity and get even more out of their day and efforts simply by being receptive to a bit of feedback.
To know if your habits are working or not, clearly define the results you want. When you fully understand what you want to accomplish, you can reflect on how your actions over the past few hours, days or weeks can get you closer to your goal. -Jason W. Womack
When it comes to being successful, high achievers have a number of habits in common. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be right up there with them.
Here are three qualities all successful people share and how you can make them your own:
1. Say ‘no’ to distraction. Every. Single. Time. Successful people make better use of their time because they are disciplined goal-setters. I’m referring to those high performers who experience no down-time. Sure, there are vacations and time spent with the family, but that comes after success has been achieved.
Successful people have that same list of tasks to accomplish as anyone else, but the difference is they make time to get them all done with no excuses. They may not enjoy it, but that is irrelevant. What matters is that it gets done. They are disciplined in planning their work and sticking to their plan.
Even when you’ve achieved that level of success, the work doesn’t stop. I am always on the lookout for a great, profitable investment. I might be out with my family, but my brain is always aware of business opportunities around me. I don’t just shut it off when I’m not at work.
2. Read something new everyday. Successful people read constantly, find mentors who can teach them and value new information that can help push them forward. Whatever field you are in, you have to learn before you earn. Learn your product, customers and competition. And then: keep learning.
3. Flaunt your failures like a champ. Fail as many times as you can. Everyone fails. It’s part of life. Too many people take failure as a sign it’s time for them to give up. Those people don’t get very far. What sets successful people apart is the ability to get up and give it another go with a better plan for how to be successful the next time around.
If you want to embrace the habits of successful people, you’ve got to make the change within yourself first.
I have a friend who has a steady stream of ideas — both great and hair-brained. A lot of times he comes up with viable new product ideas, but only occasionally stays the course required to bring the good ones to market. As a professional innovation consultant and brand developer, for me, this is like nails on a chalkboard.
Most recently, he brought me some samples for a chocolate eggnog he was developing. It was tasty, but the flavor profile needed tweaking and the packaging and marketing needed work. It had potential, if only he kept working on it. But the thought of having to continue in the development process was too daunting, or disappointing, or a combination of both, so he shelved the idea.
And that’s where a lot of inventors fail. They give up too soon.
There are four essential tenets of inventing and product development — especially once the rush of a great idea makes it from your imagination to paper or prototype.
1. Inventing is work that requires passion. Passion motivates us to persevere. Enthusiasm is essential to convince not only others of the worthiness of your ideas, but to convince yourself as well. You are going to have to do a lot of hard work before an idea reaches the point where a consumer realizes it’s exactly what they’ve been looking for.
Truly passionate inventors embrace the flaws in an idea, seeing them as pathways to workable solutions. Many aspiring entrepreneurs, however, are like my buddy, seeing criticism not as the starting point for revisions, but as red lights.
According to psychologist Martin Seligman, we can overcome pessimism by consciously developing our brain’s optimistic side using “self-talk” — a technique that involves actively disputing pessimistic assessments of our situation. This isn’t just a personal pep talk. It’s a rational and impartial way of looking at failure as temporary and fixable, which allows us to move on to new solutions.
2. Question everything. The moment you discover your idea is somehow not working can occur at any stage on the journey. Since I know this from experience, when a new idea pops into my head, I immediately start looking at all the negatives and potential challenges. I know if I uncover problems at the beginning and can solve them, there will be fewer obstacles along the path.
This habit can be frustrating to others who want me to just enjoy the idea, and not be so objective. But I can’t help it. I know that the myriad issues I have to tackle later will be lessened if I can eliminate other structural, marketing or packaging problems as soon as possible.
3. Trial and error is a good thing. There are times when you find you have to go one more round with an idea, create one more prototype, write one more description or marketing message and it just seems endless. You feel like the juices have stopped flowing. This is when you have to “act as if” and just sit down and do what needs to be done.
Going through the motions seems antithetical to creativity, but it’s really not. In fact, thinking — even seemingly “forced” thinking — does fire up our neurotransmitters, and what started out feeling forced may turn out to be your best work ever. Bottom line: push through the resistance.
4. There is no magic answer. Just as there is no one perfect way to live your life, there isn’t just one way to solve a creative problem. My friend, for example, could have gone in several directions with the flavor profile of his eggnog and more than one might have worked.
There are multiple ways to tweak a product to make it better. The one you settle on depends a lot on your purpose, audience and expectations. That’s why I advise innovators to make a product as early and as quickly as possible in order to let people play with it and offer useful user feedback.
Remember: Criticism shouldn’t invalidate your ideas. It should serve to strengthen them. If you really love your idea, you’ll be willing to listen, learn and pivot when necessary.
One of the most important shifts in many companies today is the move toward a capabilities-driven strategy. Companies that define a “way to play,” lined up with a handful of key differentiating capabilities that deliver on that value proposition, have a definite competitive advantage. Your own company may have redesigned your strategy accordingly. Now it’s time to execute.
Undoubtedly, you already have a planning and performance management system—otherwise known as a strategic plan and corporate budget. This is a group of deeply ingrained methods for allocating costs and tracking. Even as the top executive team embraces a capabilities-driven strategy, the planning and performance management system tends to remain unchanged. That’s because traditional budgeting planning practices were designed with other priorities in mind. They tend to foster silo-based thinking and to spread investments across all activities. That makes them irrelevant to your strategy—at best. At worst, they will undermine the development of key capabilities. Yet they tend to be so entrenched, combining so many of the formal and informal drivers of behavior in a company, that you may find it difficult to change them.
A truly relevant planning and performance management system will help you instill the discipline and accountability to make hard choices. It will make it easier, not harder, to assign the lion’s share of investment to your differentiating capabilities. And it will keep things on track with clearly articulated objectives and performance metrics. Here are seven guiding principles that will help you put such a system into place:
1. Emphasize key capabilities in your strategic plan. Look beyond short-term marketplace opportunities and challenges. Articulate what you need to do, different from what any other company can do, to deliver on the company’s unique value proposition. Tie strategic objectives to those capabilities. For example, one bank recognized a major opportunity to build its business by selling across product lines. Developing a robust client analytics capability was a requirement. By naming this capability in their strategic plan, the bank’s leaders forced themselves to lay out the steps needed to achieve their long-term goal.
2. Spell out capability-building initiatives in the plan. Design roadmaps for developing and steadily upgrading specific capabilities over time. Then, in each annual plan thereafter, spell out how you can further advance these capability-building initiatives. The leaders of a mining conglomerate, for instance, realized that they could increase production output by rolling out new standards across their portfolio of subsidiaries. That required a series of initiatives: one each for measurement, reporting, IT, best-practice methodologies, and training. Developing the initiative roadmap provided an actionable plan for the management team to build the capability over time.
3. Manage discretionary and non-discretionary spending separately. A successful strategy concentrates investment dollars where they are needed most: the company’s distinctive capabilities. Traditional budgeting can undermine this goal by allowing individual units to spend discretionary dollars as they see fit—often favoring pet projects, even if they have no strategic relevance. To prevent this, use zero-based budgeting to determine the amount of non-discretionary expenditures needed to “keep the lights on” throughout the company. The rest of your spending should go through a management process, connected directly to the strategic plan.
4. Use cross-functional governance to balance company priorities against the priorities of individual business areas. Governance forums should use a set of clearly defined decision rights on a regular basis to steer the business. A transportation company relied on a common information technology infrastructure across all of its business units. Every year, each business unit submitted IT investment requests to an investment committee panel composed of business unit and support function leaders. Its cross-functional organizational design enabled the panel to best decide how to allocate scarce resources for initiatives that would generate the best return for the enterprise. Some of the enterprise opportunities would not have been captured if business unit leaders were the only decision makers on IT.
5. Create guidelines for evaluating investment demands. Your company is subject to a range of investment demands with varying degrees of relevance to strategic priorities. Detailed investment guidelines will help assess these requests, especially when you’re balancing “apples and oranges” demands (such as regulatory compliance expenditures versus capital spending proposals). Each year, for example, the managers of a moderate-sized but much-used airport have to choose just a few of many investment requests—balancing safety, strategy, operations, and regulatory arguments. Establishing a clear set of communicated guidelines allows the airport leaders to focus on higher-return projects. Knowing the reasons for the choices encourages everyone, including those whose proposals didn’t get funded, to engage and execute with more focus on the winning initiatives.
6. Give leaders cross-functional authority to build capabilities and hold them accountable. Capability-building efforts fail when nobody has the authority to carry them out. Help individual leaders build capability systems across functional lines by making sure others can see that they have the requisite decision rights and position. For example, remember the bank building out its analytics capability. This required coordinating resources to develop a solution across product lines and IT. An empowered leader was authorized to manage resources, initiate investments, and manage delivery across the organization matrix to build the capability.
7. Measure and reward progress. Building a strategic capability can often take months or years. Explain clearly how each initiative bolsters a critical capability. Establish objectives and milestones for each initiative. Use these benchmarks to measure and reward progress toward the ultimate goal: a market-leading capability.
A more relevant planning and performance management system yields significant long-term benefits, because it continuously evaluates your company’s performance against strategic goals. The performance benchmarks tell you where and how external changes are affecting your progress. This provides a real-time snapshot of your capabilities at work in the marketplace. Strengths and weaknesses become clear, informing your investment decisions for the next strategic planning cycle. After a few years, this virtuous feedback loop can become second nature, paving the way for real collective mastery of the capabilities that distinguish your company. – Matthew Siegel s+b
We all know lack of sleep is harmful to our health — sleep affects mood, increases risk of psychiatric disorders and depression, cardiovascular disease and lowers immune system health. Yet the stress of running a company and long working hours means entrepreneurs often find themselves functioning on little sleep.
Evanston, Ill.-based sleep expert Dr. Lisa Shives says getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night is a critical component of entrepreneurs’ business success. “Sleep affects our executive function; the area of the brain responsible for decision making, creative thinking, memory and reaction time,” says Shives.
Follow these seven sleep habits and dream your way to business success:
1. Avoid alcohol before bedtime.
While alcohol may help you fall asleep, it will affect the quality of your slumber. “Sleep is lighter, you have less REM (the deepest stage of sleep),” says Shives. Alcohol can also wake you up in the middle of the night. “Many people wake up after about four hours, because that’s how long it takes to metabolize alcohol, then they have trouble getting back to sleep,” says Shives. Although studies have shown a glass of wine at dinner can have positive effects on cardiovascular health, Shives says to avoid drinking any alcohol within three hours before bedtime.
2. Turn off electronics before bedtime.
Shives recommends shutting off gadgets an hour before bedtime. “The light that’s emitted [from the screens] slips your neurotransmitters into an awake position,” says Shives. Our gadgets also force our brains to stay active when they really need relaxation time to distress before bedtime. Shives recommends using the hour before bed to do something relaxing and enjoyable like reading a book or having a chat with your partner.
3. Write your worries away.
If you find yourself lying in bed stressing about the events of the day, Shives recommends keeping a worry journal to write down the issues that are bothering you. For those who find their heads swimming with to-do-lists, Shives says putting the list on paper rather than thinking about it can help to clear your head and shut off your mind before bedtime.
4. Create the perfect sleep ambience.
The optimal sleep environment is one that’s cool, dark and quiet. “Part of becoming drowsy in the evening is that your core body temperature starts to drop,” says Shives. Eliminate noise and light distractions by charging smartphones outside the bedroom door to avoid the glow, the ding and the temptation to get up and check on something.
Exercise promotes healthy sleep patterns by releasing serotonin and dopamine. These are the same neurotransmitters that are important for regulating our 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, known as the circadian rhythm.
6. Avoid sugary snacks before bedtime.
If you have a hankering for a snack, Shives recommends grabbing a bite containing protein and fat such as yogurt rather than one containing starch or sugar. “[Protein and fat] have very low glycemic levels which means they will give a steady release of energy throughout the night,” says Shives. Simple carbs or sugary snacks give you a quick burst of energy, followed by a crash which can disturb the quality of your sleep.
7. Wake up to the light.
The morning is just as important to your sleep habits as the evening. Getting sunlight when you wake up re-sets your body’s circadian rhythm, helping to ensure you’re more tired at night. Enjoy your morning coffee sitting next to a large window is a great way to start your day right.
Run, don’t walk, away from these all-too-common words of advice.
Small-business owners get unsolicited advice everyday. Some of it can be very helpful, some of it is better off ignored. If you hear any of the “words of wisdom” listed below, our advice to you is to smile, say thank you, and move on. Good things come to those who wait.
If you follow this advice, you may be waiting a very long time for success. Better advice: Small-business owners need to be aggressive and go out and grab opportunities as they happen. You are responsible for initiating your success.
Failure is not an option.
Unfortunately, it is the most likely outcome in any small business venture. Better advice: Accept failure, learn what you can, let go of it, and look for another opportunity to succeed.
Do what you love and the money will follow. In the ideal world, this would always be true. Better advice: The money will follow if you find something you are passionate aboutand you’re selling a product or service your customers need or want.
The customer is always right.
If the customer was always right then it would be too expensive for any company to stay in business. Better advice: Listen to the customer’s concerns and show empathy in proposing solutions to their problems.
Think outside the box.
Sometimes ideas so far outside the box will make a small-business owner go broke because customers won’t pay for it. Better advice: Look inside the box for constant problems customers still pay to solve.
Never give up. This hard fast rule can lead to bankruptcy. Don’t go down with the ship! Better advice: Follow Kenny Rogers’ advice and “know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em”. Successful entrepreneurs know when it’s time to close down their business and look for a new start.
If you are not hiring, you are not growing. Successful businesses are not measured in the number of employees, but in the profit (cash flow) they generate for their owners. Better advice: Get the right resources (employees, freelancers, vendors) to get the job done most effectively.
Separate out your business and personal life. In the world of the Internet-enabled smartphone, it is nearly impossible to separate these two worlds. Better advice: Merge your business and personal aspects into one happy life. But establish business free zones (like the gym, dinner table, bedroom or vacation) so you are able to recharge.
Never leave money on the table. This strategy is greedy and shows short term thinking. It can also blind the small-business owner to additional objectives, or big-picture thinking and planning. Better advice: Emphasize long term relationships so annuities with vendors and customers can be built to maximize their lifetime value.
Always be innovating. While it is important to evolve and change with the market, innovation should not be done for its own sake. Better advice: Consistently ask customers and survey competitors on new ways to solve problems.
If you want it done right, do it yourself.
If you follow this strategy, you will always be working. You will have built a job, but not a company. Better advice: Find leverage in your business by training employees to do tasks that will leverage your time. Later, bring in a team that is better at these tasks than you are.
If you build a great product (or service), customers will come.
While this may work in the movies, it never is effective in business. If your product can’t get found, it will never be chosen. Better advice: Set up a consistent system of sales and marketing so customers can find your product when they are looking.
Business is about taking big risks. This is a surefire way to go out of business and never have the financial resources to recover. Better advice: Take small risks and analyze the results. Business is ultimately a series of small decisions and incremental steps.
Don’t quit your day job. Many entrepreneurs are told to keep their start up as a hobby and don’t risk doing it full time. Better advice: When you have enough customers to support your minimum overhead, jump to doing the business on an exclusive basis. Only with complete focus will you be able to grow the business to its full potential.
Everything is fair in business.
You will be surprised what people have the audacity to do in business, and no not everything is “fair” in business, and what may be considered “fair”, it isn’t always right. Better advice: Think about the code of conduct with which you want to conduct your business. Train your staff to stick to it.
You can’t change the world. You are told you will never have enough resources to really make a difference. Better advice: You actually can change the world. As a small-business owner, focus on doing it one customer at a time.
You must first write a detailed business plan. Business plans are totally overrated. They typically are a series of assumptions that never come true. Better advice: After writing the initial business plan, get customers to validate assumptions or help morph to a more profitable path.
Business is about having a great idea. Many entrepreneurs think they have to protect their innovative idea or sometimes even want to sell it. Better advice: Business ideas are meaningless if you can’t back it up. Success is really about taking action and finding the right team to work with to build a company.
Quit while you are ahead. This is a fearful and fatalistic approach to business. Better advice: Find out how you can build on the success that you have already achieved that can minimize some of your risks going forward. If you feel comfortable, take some money out of the business as financial insurance.
You have to spend money to make money. Many vendors say you have to invest a lot of money to build a business. Better advice: Having too much money will make you frivolous with it. Most businesses are started with less than $10,000. As a small-business owner, it’s your money so be cheap. Only spend money on things that are testable, trackable and repeatable. —-Barry Moltz
If you were to choose just one part of your personality to develop that would virtually guarantee your success, I’d like to suggest that you place persistence at the top of your list.
Napoleon Hill, in his classic Think and Grow Rich felt so strongly about this subject, he devoted an entire chapter to it. Hill suggested, “There may be no heroic connotation to the word persistence but the quality is to your character what carbon is to steel.”
Think about it. If you took a quick mental walk down memory lane and reviewed some of your accomplishments in the past – large and small – you would have to agree that persistence played an important role in your success.
Napoleon Hill studied many of the world’s most successful people. He pointed out the only quality he could find in Henry Ford, Thomas Edison or a host of other notable greats that he could not find in everyone else was persistence. What I found even more intriguing was the fact that Hill made comment of the fact that these individuals were often misunderstood to be ruthless or cold-blooded and that this misconception grew out of their habit of following through in all of their plans with persistence.
It’s both interesting and sadly amusing to me that, as a society, we would be quick to criticize people for realizing they had an unshakeable power within them and were capable of overcoming any obstacle outside of them. This power would ultimately move them toward a greater chance of achieving any goal they set for themselves!
Colonel Sanders went to more than 1,000 places trying to sell his chicken recipe before he found an interested buyer. The fact that we can buy Kentucky Fried Chicken today attests to his perseverance. Thomas Edison tried almost 10,000 times before he succeeded in creating the electric light. If he had given up, you would be reading this in the dark!
The original business plan for what was to become Federal Express was given a failing grade on Fred Smith¹s college exam. And, in the early days, their employees would cash their pay checks at retail stores, rather than banks. This meant it would take longer for the money to clear, thereby giving Fed Ex more time to cover their payroll. I can recount story after story about individuals who overcame obstacles so great, but only did so because they dared persist. These individuals are no different than you and I.
Ultimately persistence becomes a way of life, but that is not where it begins. To develop the mental strength – persistence – you must first want something. You have to ‘Want’ something so much that it becomes a heated desire… a passion in your belly. You must fall in love with that idea. Yes, literally fall in love with the idea and magnetize yourself to every part of the idea. At that point, persistence will be virtually automatic.
Persistence is a subject I have studied all of my adult life and I can tell you one thing I know for certain: very few people ever, mentally or verbally, say to themselves… this is what I really want and I am prepared to give my life for it, and thus, they never develop the persistence to achieve it.
Persistence is a unique mental strength; a strength that is essential to combat the fierce power of the repeated rejections and numerous other obstacles that sit in waiting and are all part of winning in a fast-moving, ever-changing world. As Napoleon Hill found out, there are hundreds of highly successful men and women who have cut a path for others to follow, while leaving their mark on the scrolls of history … and every one of these great individuals was persistent. In many cases it was the only quality that separated them from everyone else.
It is generally believed that a lack of persistence is a consequence of a weak willpower. That is not true. A person could have a highly evolved willpower and still lack the persistence required to keep moving forward in life. In more cases than not, if a person lacks persistence, they do not have a goal that is worthy of them, a desirable goal that excites them to their very core.
Though willpower is important in moving a person toward their goal, if there is ever a war between the will and the imagination, the imagination will win every time. What that means is: you’re powered by desire and fuelled by the dream you hold. Once you start to use your imagination to help you build a bigger picture of your dream, to define and refine it until you get it just right in your mind, the emotion that is triggered by that desire far outweighs any force that may be caused by sheer will alone. I am not suggesting the will does not have to be developed, it does. It must become highly developed in order to direct you toward the image with which you are emotionally involved.
Your intellectual factors hold the potential for enormous good when they are properly employed. However, you must remember that everything has an opposite and any of your intellectual factors can turn, without warning, into destructive lethal enemies when they are directed toward results that are not wanted. It is easy to find individuals who are persistently doing what they don’t want to do and achieving results that they do not want. A lack of persistence is not their problem; that person is persisting to their own detriment. Ignorance and paradigms are the enemy that we must defeat. Everyone is persistent. Our objective must be to put persistence to work for us rather than against us.
Vision and desire have to be the focus of your attention if you’re going to develop persistence into the great ally it can become.
Sylvester Stallone had been turned down a thousand times by agents and was down to his last $600 before he found a company that would produce Rocky. The rest is history! To truly succeed requires a total commitment to your goal. Too many people make the mistake of quitting just short of success. Keep going no matter what. If you really believe in what you are doing, give it all you¹ve got and don¹t give up.
You will succeed. There is no such thing as failure. Every action produces an outcome. It may not always be the outcome you are looking for, but it is an outcome nonetheless. If you monitor the results of your actions and keep correcting what is not working, you will eventually produce the outcome you are looking for.
Be Persistent – Ray Kroc, the late founder of McDonalds, put it best when he said: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with great talent. Genius will not. Un-rewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence, determination and love are omnipotent.”
Persistence is an expression of the mental strength that is essential in almost every profession, where repeated rejection and obstacles are part of a daily routine.
Here are four relatively simple steps that will help you to turn persistence into a habit. These steps can be followed by virtually anyone.
1. Have a clearly defined goal. The goal must be something you are emotionally involved with, something you want very much. (In the beginning, you may not even believe that you can accomplish it—the belief will come.)
2. Have a clearly established plan that you can begin working on immediately. (Your plan will very likely only cover the first and possibly the second stage of the journey to your goal. As you begin executing your plan, other steps required to complete your journey will be revealed at the right time.)
3. Make an irrevocable decision to reject any and all negative suggestions that come from friends, relatives or neighbors. Do not give any conscious attention to conditions or circumstances that appear to indicate the goal cannot be accomplished.
4. Establish a mastermind group of one or more people who will encourage, support and assist you wherever possible.
What do you dream of doing with your life? Do it. Begin right now and never quit. There is greatness in you. Let it out. Be persistent.
Make this a Positive Day…unless you have other plans!