What Does It Take to Be Successful?
The topic of “success” is one that fascinates me, largely because achieving success in business was unbelievably difficult for me, and I had to learn a lot, and change a lot about myself in the process. Why are some people successful and others, who may have had greater advantages at the starting point, either less successful or even outright failures?
I had a long post written out initially, but I’ve decided to basically scrap it. As is often the case when I write, it was far too wordy without saying much. Since a particular friend of mine is struggling with something right now, I realized she doesn’t need all that wordiness, she needs something straight to the point. And in truth, this simple secret to success really is just that – simple.
The Secret to Success is…..
To give you a little background on why the subject of success is so interesting to me, you should know that I used to be an absolute failure in business! And when I say I was a failure, I really mean it. As in…..for the first 10 years of my dental practice, I was never more than 2-3 months away from filing bankruptcy. In 2009, as the world economy was crashing down, my wife and I seriously considered doing so, and we even consulted with an attorney. We were so broke, my parents were going to pay the attorney’s fees for us.
And yet……we not only avoided bankruptcy, but we turned the practice around so much, that in May 2013 we purchased our dream home in one of Charlotte’s premier neighborhoods.
The Difference Between “Wanting” and “Commitment”
So what changed? Simple – we got committed! No, not “committed” like going to the asylum, but committed to learning, and doing, and being whatever was necessary to become a financial success. So what did that take? It took a radical commitment to changing my way of thinking, being, and acting!
- I started listening to audiobooks on success every day. And I mean EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR ALMOST 3 YEARS! I listened while walking my dogs, washing the dishes, commuting to and from work, and even while falling asleep at night. Financial management, leadership, marketing, brand development, web design, search engine optimization…..I spent hundreds of hours listening!
- I identified personal ways of thinking that held me back and figured out what I needed to change – and then I changed myself.
- I started daily meditation, using a mantra that identified what I wanted most in life, to deeply reinforce my goals.
- I also started a daily journal, in which I chronicled what I’d learned, how I’d implemented it, how I was feeling – more reinforcement.
- My wife and I set goals on debt reduction and created a plan on how to do it – then we followed it strictly.
- I quit listening to all news, both radio and TV, because it was usually negative and brought me down.
- We decided that we had to take some risks for the office and took some big ones that really paid off.
- We made a lot of personal financial sacrifices, no matter how much they hurt, or how much we wanted them.
- I spent huge numbers of hours, late into the night, after my wife and daughters were asleep, learning to design and optimize our practice website.
Stubbornness is Crucial
In all those books that I read/listened to, there were some key points that EVERYONE agreed on. And while they all had their own definitions, or key words, or whatever, at some level they all boiled down to what my Ma-Ma would simply call STUBBORNNESS! And if there’s one thing I’ve always had in abundance, it’s definitely stubbornness. 🙂
While you can surely think of more eloquent words or expressions, I think that one word sums it up so perfectly. To be stubborn means you have to have a thick skin, real resistance to criticism, a refusal to give up, and an absolute belief that you will succeed, no matter what anyone else says. You have to be willing to take the heat, weather the storm, ride out the waves, deal with the negativity, and in the end, know that all the doubters and haters are wrong.
Are You Willing to Suffer for Success?
Let me warn you……most people don’t understand the kind of commitment that it takes to be successful, regardless of what you chose to do. Even your closest loved ones may not understand, may even be critical and try to bring you down. And because most people don’t understand, know that you’re putting a big ole bulls-eye on your back, and LOTS of people will take potshots at you. Just read the comments on any article online about successful people……doesn’t matter how hard the person worked, how much was sacrified…..there will be vicious, petty, underhanded, cruel, and demeaning comments by people who simply don’t understand. So you have to be prepared to be strong – be prepared mentally and emotionally to stay the course despite the arrows and criticisms. It WILL happen, I promise you. If you’re not willing to take the heat, my advice is don’t do it. But my real advice is this: take the heat and DO IT! If you believe that your goal is worthwhile, you must remember that nothing worthwhile is easy, and if your goal truly is worthwhile, achieving it will be worth FAR more than the work or sacrifice or arrows endured getting there.
Helpful Reading on Success at ANYTHING
There is one particular book that I recommend for anyone who “wants” something, and that is Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. One of the original self-help books ever published, it provides a firm set of rules by which one can succeed at becoming a financial success. However, it is my strong opinion that this book can help ANYONE who wants to accomplish anything, whether it be to create a blog read around the world, to create a ministry or charitable organization to aid those in need, to learn a new skill in photography, to find a new career, or even to meet the person of your dreams. I’m not going to tell you about the book, though – just trust me and read it yourself.
You Can Do It, If You’re Stubborn Enough
Here’s the thing………if you’re truly stubborn enough to work through all obstacles, I pretty much guarantee that you will succeed at almost anything you choose. If you’re not, though, I’ll also guarantee that you won’t, or at least not to the level that you see in your dreams. Dreams are nice but useless unless you act on them.
It’s Also OK to NOT Do It
In the end, you may decide that you’re not willing to work that hard. Perhaps the goal just doesn’t mean quite that much to you, or other goals are more important, or maybe it’s not the right time. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you have to. Sit down and think, or pray, or meditate. You have to first decide how badly you want something. Do you just kind of “want” it, or are you absolutely committed to the point of being stubbornly steadfast? And you’ll know what you should do by how badly you want it……or not.
Either way, it’s OK!