How does one become successful?
In thinking about the mechanics of achieving success, as we do constantly here at the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business, we realize it’s really our thoughts that propel our success, because what we think leads us to take certain actions, and positive actions lead to success.
So what should those thoughts be?
Here are ten thoughts—mindsets, if you will—that help entrepreneurs and business leaders think differently, and when they think like this, they tend to be successful:
- Don’t wait to be selected. Select yourself! Don’t let fear or lack of self-confidence keep you on the sidelines. You can determine what steps need to be taken to achieve your goals and start walking in that direction. You can promote yourself on social media. You can raise money through crowd sourcing. You can publish your own work, and create your own music. Get going!
- Being best is more important than being first. The first one out there with a new idea or product often makes mistakes and struggles. Learn from others who’ve gone before so you can be the best you can possibly be, and learn from the experience (and mistakes) of those who were first out of the gate. Always be thinking about how to step up your game. Don’t expend your energy on being first. Focus on being best.
- Success is only predictable in hindsight. Success is never inevitable. Time, energy, and effort are behind every successful person. We have to have a vision that’s clear. Even with a vision, you won’t execute flawlessly, but you’ll be moving in the right direction. Success is never assured or predestined. When you work hard with a vision in mind, you become what your vision would have you be.
- Put service before self. Forget the notion that business and personal are two different things. It’s always personal. No matter how successful you are, you need to give of your time and talent and help those around you. The odds of success increase to the degree you help others.
- Do things others aren’t willing to do. When others are giving up, opportunities increase for those who are willing to step up to the plate. Whenever you do something others are unwilling to do, you raise the game to the next level and you stand out from the crowd. Zig Ziglar, perhaps the greatest motivational speaker of all time, expressed it beautifully when he said, “There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”
- The depth of your network is more important than its breadth. If you’re just networking without cultivating relationships, you’re missing the chance to build a foundation that will support you the rest of your life. Stop looking at people for what they can do for you. Think instead of ways to support each other.
- Ideas are important, but execution is everything. If you don’t follow through with action on your ideas, you won’t succeed. This is true in sports; it’s true in business; and it’s true in all of life. Forward movement comes only when you take a step.
- Leadership is earned, not given. Real leadership involves one’s ability to inspire and motivate others in their organization to feel capable, skilled, and respected. It’s critical that they feel good about what they’re doing if you want them to do their best. Those who cultivate this ability will earn the title of leader, and true leadership leads to success.
- Pay it forward. Successful people don’t wait to get a raise. They work hard to do what it takes to deserve that raise. This is related to putting service before self, but it also has to do with doing the things a successful person does, even before you achieve your success goals. Put in your time in; pay your dues; keep your eye on the prize. This forward thinking—combined with forward action—will propel you towards success.
- Make your own history. You don’t have any idea what the future will bring, so even if it’s only in your own community or niche, be the best you can be and you will create your own history. I tell my students that they will all—every single of one of them—make their own history. Each of us, by virtue of being alive and being here, has a difference to make in the world. Make your own history, and make it a great one!
Master your thoughts; execute your vision; claim your success.
When you can embrace these ten thoughts or mindsets as successful people do—when you begin to think differently—you’ll begin to act differently. When you begin to act differently, you’ll begin to carve out success however YOU define it.
That’s when you’ll begin to live your dreams, not your fears.