I’ve been blessed with parents, mentors, and role models who have invested in my success. And in turn, I have been told by numerous other advisors and individuals that they count ME as one of their success mentors! (Read about Kim Butler if we haven’t “met”.) I consider it a great privilege to have helped others.
In this article, I’m sharing 10 success principles that have been essential guideposts in my life and work. They are not about financial planning. Most have been gleaned from my own mentors, although perhaps re-phrased a bit. They are the timeless principles I’ve discovered along the way that have made a difference for me. And whether you are a financial advisor, a business owner, a student or an employee, you can apply these 10 principles to transform YOUR results!
#1: Define success on your own terms at least once a year.
What do you want out of life? Perhaps you want to travel the world for a living, make a name for yourself in your chosen field, or become a multi-millionaire. However you define success, name it, think about it, talk about it, and dream about it.
Ask yourself, “Why don’t I already have this success?” which will prompt your mind to come up with many excuses that can show you the pathway. The very reasons that cause you to think “I can’t” will be the impetus to get you to think “I can!” This crystal clear sense of direction towards your definition of success will move you quickly on your journey for the next 12 months. Then, as you reach that vision of success, you can begin the process again with a new vision and new goals. It’s YOUR definition of success, and YOU can change it.
#2: Add “Plus One” to each of your goals.
This is a strategy for pushing yourself just a bit, a strategy that I’ve used since my first week in business and continuously for many years after. If your manager or mentor suggests a certain number of meetings or other benchmarks that fit your definition of success, then add “Plus One” to that.
When I wanted to jump-start my business after giving birth to my first child, I added one extra client meeting to my calendar each week, over and above the recommended target number. That helped me ramp up quickly!
Most of us don’t use all of the capability we have, so why not stretch a bit? Whether it’s one more phone call made, one more mile run, or one more dollar saved, a little extra push can make a big difference.
#3: Do what you love to do.
Focus on the specific area of business or the aspect of your field or area of study that excites you the most. Aim to be completely energized at the end of the day because of loving what you do! You’ll know you love what you do when you could do it all day long and have MORE energy at the end of the day because of the work.
Enjoyment is the key to peak performance. When you enjoy what you are doing or talking about, everybody takes notice, including your clients, patients, students, teachers and colleagues. Focus on and develop the aspects of your work that you enjoy and find a way to spend all of your time in that area.
And remember—there are people you can partner with or hire who love doing the things you don’t! While every minute doesn’t need to be a joy, you want to aim for at least 80% of your time spent doing what you love. Resources such as StrengthsFinder and Kolbe.com can help identify natural strengths and ensure that partnerships and teams can work effectively. I love helping people with their finances, and team members help with paperwork, marketing, and other things I don’t love.
#4: Accept complete responsibility.
NEVER complain. NEVER explain. Only you can control your own actions and only you can decide how external circumstances will affect you.
In my life and work recently, I have had to practice this around the Prosperity Economics Movement, our 503(c) non-profit organization. Particularly in the first couple of years when launching our annual Summit for Advisors, the challenges were extraordinary, including big financial losses to get it off the ground. We found a way to be true to our vision rather than letting our long-term decisions to be driven by short-term dollars. In time, we succeeded in creating a self-supporting event we were proud of that truly served advisors.
Accepting complete responsibility lets you stop wasting time with worry, complaints, or ego battles. By accepting responsibility for errors (including those someone on your staff or team makes), you’ll never have to explain away an issue. On the other hand, however, if there are improvements to be given credit for, speak loudly, especially if there is someone else to thank for the improvements! You can get anything done as long as you don’t care who gets the credit for doing the work.
#5: Never consider the possibility of failure.
Confront the fears you have and move through them. Thinking about failure is wasted energy. It’s also the opposite of proactive gratitude—it’s practicing ingratitude in advance! Speaking of gratitude, if you find yourself focusing on what might go wrong, listing all of the things you are grateful for can pull you out of those thoughts.
I do occasionally have thoughts of failure, but I do not let them stay for one second! Try stopping the fear in its tracks by acknowledging that it does not have to be a part of your thinking. Then get grateful about something, notice if there are any relevant actions you can take, and move on.
#6: Work all the time you work, and play all the time you play.
Studies show most 40-hour-a-weekers only really work 30% of the time. Thirty percent! That’s a mere 12 hours. The rest of their time is spent on personal stuff and talking with other people who only work 30% of their work hours, too. So when you work, really concentrate on WHAT you are doing, WHO you are with and WHY you are there.
Then, when you play or spend time with family, do the same thing and your experiences will be 10 times better in both cases! Rarely can you mix work and play together with good results. I follow Dan Sullivan’s advice for free, focus, and buffer days, and I assure you, I get more done in my three “focus” days per week than most people do in their 40 hour work-weeks!
#7: Get around the right people.
Don’t hang out with the thirty percenters. Don’t compromise yourself spending time with difficult people, whether in your office, on your client list, or the people you hang out with after hours. There is a farmers’ saying that I like: “Never wrestle with a pig because you’ll both get dirty, but the pig likes it.”
One thing I love about the financial business is that I can do business with whomever I want. You need to be learning from and uplifted by those around you, so hang out with others that are striving to improve by reading, studying, and practicing the actions that lead to a successful life.
#8: Be prepared to climb from peak to peak.
You must develop a long-term perspective because there may be ups and downs, but keeping your eye on the next peak gives you the ability to keep going. In addition, it provides you with a pre-determined mindset that you will bounce back from diversity and helps you do just that! By deciding in advance that you are proceeding towards your next peak—regardless of how current circumstances appear—helps you become an unshakeable optimist.
Even in (especially in) the midst of challenges, develop the ability to give a positive explanation and focus on what you are learning rather than how things aren’t going as you hoped. Will the issue seem as big one year from today? Likely not! So develop a positive outlook and move on.
#9: Develop a reputation for speed, dependability, honesty and decisiveness.
This applies in relation to yourself, your family, your clients, work colleagues, business partners, and friends. Be persistent in seeking integrity in those relationships because the lack of it causes a loss of inner peace, which is too high a price to pay for any material gain.
You’ve heard that “time is money,” but I disagree. I think that relationships are money because you must walk the talk by behaving with others as you want your own friends, partners and ideal clients to behave. You can’t expect your clients to be decisive and dependable if you’re not, or—if you are in sales—to purchase something that you won’t.
#10: Give first.
If I had to boil these 10 principles down to just one, this would be it! Whether you are an employee, business owner, or salesperson, provide value in your marketplace. Take a partnership attitude towards those you meet, and always be thinking of how to help them beyond the areas of your specific business.
This issue of giving has some funny habits associated with it. Take weddings, for example. Some of our parents pay many thousands of dollars for us to go to school, participate in activities, etc. Then young adult kids get married, and once again, parents and families bear the expense! Our relatives, who rarely hear from us during our growing up years, suddenly receive a wedding invitation. Now, the invitation doesn’t say “gifts will be received Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.,” but it can imply it. Shouldn’t the young couple be giving presents back to the family for getting them that far!? Yet newlyweds are often focused on how to get possessions in their homes and positions in the working world. Should we maybe consider instead what we can GIVE to our homes and to our world?
We hear “Get the most out of it that you can.” Why not GIVE the most to it? Instead of “have a good time,” why not (as my mother used to remind me), GIVE a good time?
We each have wonderful gifts to give… enthusiasm, energy, wisdom, experience… even a smile is a wonderful thing to give! Love of what you do, who you do it for and the world it all exists in. Love of your family, the people you work with and the cause you work for. “Practice Random Acts of Kindness,” as the bumper sticker says, which means giving without expectation of any return, without the recipient even knowing who did the giving!
Giving is the only real job that we will ever need because if we are willing to give first, possibilities for doing more of the same will abound. In the marketplace, anyone that consistently provides value will be appropriately compensated. So continually provide value to those around you and blessings will abound.
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Disclosure: Our content is meant for educational purposes only. While it’s our goal to help you learn about building a life of prosperity, we do not intend to provide financial advice. Please consult your financial, tax or legal advisor before making any investment or financial decisions.