Success is something everyone undoubtedly aspires to have, but what does it take to be successful? You could spend ages, sifting through research articles on productivity and Youtubing ‘the philosophy of the successful’ speeches - only to be greeted by preludes of #Goals -yes, the very millennial buzzword- It isn’t implausible to state that ‘success’, and the steadfast route to getting there is never going to be unfashionable. Yet, the answer to being successful isn’t the insertion of a verb, but rather a series of consequential actions leading to this tipping off into a sphere of accomplishment.
Image by Heisenberg Media
With Gen X bosses, budding freelancers and swarms of impatient millennials trying to ride the waves of the next big thing, the single greatest impediment of our time is focus. Success can present itself through an array of forms as names, people and positions. On occasion it’s the bumbling yuppie trying to underplay the nepotism that landed him his very comfy job, or perhaps the non-conformist masking the ways of his ruthless entrepreneurship with, dare I say, ‘chill’ vibes. The seasoned capitalist with volumes of knowledge enough to make a public library seem redundant, or the otherworldly Musk-esque genius spurting code and living on 5 hours of sleep. The thing that ties all these sketches together isn’t a code word or a secret club (Albeit that would be so much more interesting) but rather, making big mistakes and even bigger successes.
Here are our tips out of the billionaire playbook, to push you off the edge of comfort, into all that’s exciting.
Step One: Build A Routine
As unexciting as it sounds, the trick to getting past the first hurdle to the top of the mountain is managing your time and more importantly, managing your attention. In the age where we hit the fast forward buttons on a film before we commit to watching it, look for tweets rather than novels and swipe through people before investing in a conversation, work seems to be punctuated by distractions, that paired with the attention span of a goldfish, is what seems to hinder our growth.
The trick to mastering a routine is to have the action become a part of the subconscious through repetition or following up the action with an already existing activity. In ‘Psycho-Cybernetics’, Maxwell states that the subconscious mind is not a mind at all, but a mechanism – and as an algorithm would learn based on the repetition of a code sequence, the repetition of activity can form a habit.
Examples of our billionaire – habit picks include:
With Alarms buzzing in the early hours of the morn, the Early Risers Club includes the likes of Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group, Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Howard Schultz, Starbucks Chairman to name a few.
Warren Buffet, Berkshire Hathaway’s CEO once said "Read 500 pages every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.” Mark Cuban, owner of the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks, is known to read for up to three hours every day and attributes a lot of his success to his habit of reading. Where do you find the time to integrate this reading into your day, you ask? The opportunity presents itself in more forms than one, and if Stephen King, author, can be spotted in a queue to the cinema with a book, you should probably squeeze in the time to flip through one on your commute to work, or back.
Ever heard of a little thing called Decision fatigue? Studies prove that repeated judgement and decision making greatly reduces an individual’s ability to make decisions on the things that matter significantly. Therefore, liberate yourself of the mundane task of deciding what to wear with a personal uniform. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, is rarely seen in anything other than a grey t-shirt and hoodie, so much so, that When Obama introduced him at a convention, he did is as ‘the man that got Mark Zuckerberg to wear a suit’. Albert Einstein, Evan Spiegel, Steve Jobs, Jack Dorsey and Barak Obama are a few more to names to the list that swears by personal uniforms.
Step Two: Create A Ritual
You know why golfers usually waggle their clubs before taking a swing? Or tennis players practice a few bounces on the racket before they serve? Well, it is because these action sequences, termed pre-performance routines, work as a mental preparation trigger for focus and immediately puts the player in an optimal mindset. The theoretical mechanisms that underline these effects of enhancing performance are that they consume working memory resources and therefore prevent athletes from engaging in ‘reinvestment’ (Masters and Maxwell, 2008) or devoting too much attention to the mechanics of one's automatic skills.
Step Three: Embrace The Almost -Success.
Whilst a win is something of the moment, success requires a constant pursuit of excellence, dedication and disciple. It is about mastering and practising your craft every day and having a passion and the perseverance to move forward consistently. Success isn’t a sprint or a one-time investment, it’s a marathon that requires challenging yourself day in and day out and not stopping even once you reach the peak. The evolutionary process of success must test you enough to know, that you don’t know what you thought you did, ergo, the Dunning Kruger effect.
Step Four : Take Risks and Don’t take no for an answer
All billionaires have had the words ‘no’ upon their ears than yeses. The trick, however, is to not allow the rejection to present an obstacle but rather push forward using it to propel yourself forward into being successful. Martin Luther King once said, “If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means, keep moving.”
If these words don’t serve as inspiration, perhaps a bit of introspection might be just what you need.