What is the key to success?


What is the key to success? Certainly there is no silver bullet. There is no one thing that on its own will ensure personal success. However there are things you can do and habits you can develop that will help you to become the person you really could be. You can be a success and it’s never too late.

Success comes from knowing what you want; taking a disciplined approach to working on your goals; and adopting good habits that will help you achieve your goals, as well as singling you out as a role model for other people too.

Here is my list of the top 10 tips for good habits you really ought to consider developing from now on:-

  1. Believe in yourself

You must believe in yourself. That’s a given, if success is your aim. If you don’t believe in yourself then why would anyone else believe in you?

If you lack self-belief then you must start reinforcing a belief in yourself straightaway with a daily mantra. Every morning and every evening go to your bathroom mirror and repeat the following to yourself 10 times each time:-

“I’m as good as anyone and better than most. I will be a success.”

It is essential that you remind yourself of this constantly.

Self-belief is an essential ingredient if you’re going to succeed. By reminding yourself that you’re as good as anyone this will help reinforce self-belief in both your conscious and subconscious minds.

Believing in yourself and your ability to succeed is more important than anything else. It is if success is your aim.

  1. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else

You are who you are and you can only be the person you are. Anything else would be a fake. You have your own special qualities and no one else is quite like you. You have your own strengths and of course you have a few weaknesses too. Everyone does.

Other people have their own unique qualities too of course. However that doesn’t mean they’re better than you. They’re just different. You can’t be them, so don’t try. And they can’t be you either. So concentrate on being yourself. Everyone else is taken.

If you want to be a star, you must shine for being you and for the special magic which only you can bring to this world. You’re unique, so take pride in that and put your best foot forward.

Never compare yourself to anyone else and never fret if you feel you can’t match someone else in some particular way. There will be ways in which they cannot match you either. 

  1. Always keep the main thing the main thing

Whether you like it or not you’ll be judged by what you deliver and the value you add.

If your job is to paint my house, then I will judge you on how well you’ve painted my house.

I don’t care how much help you’ve given to my neighbour. If you’ve painted my house badly or the job hasn’t been done properly then you’ve failed as far as I’m concerned. Do the job badly and I will not be happy.

Often in the workplace our inability to say “No” leads us to being completely distracted by a request to help someone else.

And that distraction can result in us failing to do something that would have moved us closer to the successful conclusion of one of our own goals.

Losing sight of our own high value tasks can make us less productive and less valuable in the eyes of our employer. Workplace distractions can lead to other people achieving their objectives at the expense of our own.

Being a team-player is important of course and there will be occasions when providing assistance to a colleague is the right thing to do for the greater good of the team. However it should never, ever be at the expense of you delivering what you will be expected to deliver regardless.

You’re judged by what you deliver, so never lose focus on what you’re expected to do.

Never be afraid to be assertive. You don’t have to be nasty, unpleasant or impolite. You just have to say, “Look I’m really sorry, I would love to help you but I have this to complete by 5pm” or whatever.

Always, always keep the main thing the main thing.

Being too helpful may help others but it probably won’t help you.

It will however increase your stress levels though, if you’re not careful.

Focus on your own goals ruthlessly. 

  1. Accept that you will make mistakes occasionally

No professional likes to make mistakes.

Nevertheless they are inevitable occasionally. That’s a fact of life.

No one is so perfect they can avoid mistakes completely. And no one ever achieved anything without making a few mistakes along the way.

So it’s fine to make mistakes occasionally providing you don’t make too many and providing you don’t make the same mistakes repeatedly.

When you’ve made a mistake, it’s important to be honest, accept it, and above all learn from it.

Making mistakes is all part of gaining experience.

So just do your best and accept that, like everyone else, you’re not perfect nor will you ever be.

However remember this; just because you’re not perfect, it doesn’t mean you cannot be exceptional at what you do. As professionals we always strive to get better at what we do.

Mastery of your craft is a worthy aim and one which requires constant study and practice. 

  1. Don’t be afraid to take a few risks

 Risk and reward go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.

You’ll never achieve anything exceptional if you always play it safe; not unless you’re very, very lucky anyway.

Sometimes you just have to follow your instincts and go for it.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t weigh up the pros and cons before you take action. It’s fine to consider the potential consequences before you take a risk. And it’s fine to consider the odds of achieving a positive outcome and whether the potential reward merits the degree of risk involved.

Consider risk carefully but don’t dwell on it too long. Analysis shouldn’t replace action. You cannot get to second base unless you take your foot off first base and go for it.

And anytime you take a risk don’t panic if initially things don’t go quite as you’d imagined.

If you’ve used your judgement with care then there’s every possibility that you’ll get the outcome you want.

So hold your nerve and just believe in yourself.

You may not get it right every time but you’ll get it right more than you get it wrong. And even when you’re wrong you’ll learn a lesson.

Get it right and you’ll be that much closer to achieving a goal.

So be willing to take a calculated risk when necessary. 

  1. Learn from experience

Experience is a valuable commodity. It’s the by-product of making mistakes and taking risks. It’s the invaluable benefit we derive when things don’t quite work out as we’d intended.

The most important thing about experience is that we learn from it.

And of course we can learn from seeing others make mistakes too, as well as from anything we’ve done ourselves.

The lessons we get from real experience are far more valuable to us than anything anyone can tell us, or anything we can read in a book for that matter.

It’s the education we get in the University of Life, School of Hard Knocks.

However remember this; you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your mistakes.

When you make a mistake, it makes sense to be honest with yourself and others of course. Beyond that you should not feel the need to explain yourself in detail.

Mistakes happen and no one starts out with the intention of getting something wrong. If you get an outcome you didn’t want then just to take it on the chin, learn the lesson and move on.

Everyone makes mistakes occasionally and you’re no different. To err is human. That’s life. 

  1. Never take anything personally

Apparently the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre once observed that, “Hell is other people.

I’m sure there are times when we all feel that he may have had a point.

We’re all struggling to get through life as best we can and life’s never easy for anyone. Everyone wants what they believe to be their fair share of life’s ‘pie’. Some people want your share too.

Sometimes that can leave us feeling like everyone is giving us grief and deliberately making life more difficult than it need be.

However mostly there’s nothing personal.

Life is just ‘dog eat dog’. People may be a little insensitive at times, as they pursue their own agenda, but generally they’re not out to hurt us specifically.

So if it’s not personal, then never take it personally.

And on those rare occasions when it does prove to be personal, don’t give them the satisfaction of a reaction or showing that they’ve got to you.

Look them in the eye and show them that it doesn’t bother you. Your message has to be, “I’m made of steel. You’ll have to try harder than that if you’re going to penetrate my shield. 

  1. If you’re digging a hole for yourself, stop digging

 If you find yourself digging a hole then you have two choices:-

  • You can keep digging and the hole in which you find yourself will simply get bigger and more problematic; or
  • You can recognize the situation for what it is and stop digging immediately.

It is best to stop digging immediately.

When you stop digging you might have some fences to mend of course. Certainly you’ll have to accept responsibility. You might also have to apologize to people, depending on the circumstances.

Whatever it all means it’s better to recognize a bad situation for what it is and take it on the chin, rather than making everything even worse.

On the positive side, having the ability to recognize when you’re digging a hole for yourself and having the maturity to deal with the consequences is a sign of self-confidence. That’s something for which you’ll gain respect.

People will respect you if you’re prepared to say, “Hey, you know what, I’ve made a bit of a mess of this one, so I’ll stop right here and let’s try again. Sorry but like everyone else, I’m not perfect and I make mistakes occasionally.

Just because you didn’t quite get it right doesn’t mean you cannot be confident in how you respond.

Respond in the right way and your confidence will be well placed. 

  1. Let go of any anger

We all get angry occasionally but anger never gets you any place worth going.

React in anger and almost certainly you will regret it.

That’s not to suggest that you should not react at all. However before you react let the anger subside. Just let it go.

Leave it for 24 hours if necessary, until you’re better able to reflect with a calm head. There’s a lot to be said for ‘sleeping on it’ in my experience.

That way you’re better placed to use your judgement carefully and make rational decisions.

And in making decisions, revenge should not form any part of how you plan to react.

Revenge won’t get you anywhere worth going either and you’ll almost certainly regret that too. 

  1. Learn to switch off

We all need a little ‘me time’ regularly, otherwise we’ll burn out.

We all need time to relax and recharge our batteries.

That means switching off completely.

By doing that one of the great benefits is that we gain a fresh perspective on whatever’s happening in our lives.

Surprisingly perhaps we’ll also get plenty of new ideas in the process.

In fact you’ll find you get some of your best ideas when you’re not trying to come up with new ideas. That’s ironic I know but true, in my experience. 

Bonus tip

Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one else does.

If you don’t laugh at yourself occasionally you might just be missing out on the funniest thing happening at that moment. Why miss out on a good laugh?

Concluding remarks

So there you have it. If you want success develop good habits. This list would be a very good start but there are others too.

Above all else, make sure you’re adding the most value in everything you do.

If you’re adding genuine value then you can’t go too far wrong.

So, where do you add the most value and what are your goals? If you know, write them down. If you don’t know it’s time to identify some. Nothing will ever happen by accident. Success doesn’t just happen you have to make it happen.

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.


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