People who try to teach the “keys to success” often don’t expound on some simple but very powerful concepts and truths.
The first thing to understand is that there is not really just one set of keys to success that will work for everyone. The keys that I think are the most valuable are the ones that teach a person how to find their own keys to success rather than metaphorically make copies of everyone else’s.
Of course there are some standards and patterns. Two examples are the necessity of hard work and the necessity of having a good idea and a product or service that people want.
If you only measure your success by how much money you make, then being successful is relatively easy as long as you’re making money. Other people may define success as being happy and enjoying the things that they do. But a primary key is certainly having a standard in your own head for how you measure your own success. The reason you have to do this is because what you have to do right when you start is decide what you’re willing to sacrifice in order to be successful. You must realize that to be successful you are going to need to sacrifice something, good or bad, for some degree of the success you desire.
I can’t quite figure out why it works that way, but it’s always true. Of course it’s better to sacrifice undesirable aspects of yourself and your character in order to be successful. It's not honorable to sacrifice good qualities such as honor, gentleness, and compassion in order to be successful. It’s not a good idea to sacrifice family time and physical health to be successful. It’s not a good idea to do something that you'd be miserable doing just to make the amount of money that you need to consider yourself successful.
First and foremost, define what success means to you.
Certain things were keys to my own success. One was that I was not afraid to work hard. I was never uncomfortable with doing heavy lifting or doing things that were boring or unpleasant. I knew how to balance unpleasant tasks with things that I enjoyed, and I gave myself enough time when I was off to do enjoyable things that would balance out work-related stresses.
Another key to my success, and something that I’d recommend to everyone, was being able to concentrate and focus most of the time. It’s easy to get distracted from doing the things that you need to do to accomplish tasks and/or keep your business operating properly.
You may be extremely busy, with a structured agenda and a packed calendar. But that doesn’t guarantee your being in the right place at the right time to do what needs to be done. That being the case, successful people need to know how to prioritize things, making task lists each and every day. This is very, very critical.
Organizational skills require focus and discipline. Organizing oneself requires discipline. I’m extremely disciplined and I focus intently on whatever I’m doing at any given time. I have good organizational skills, and I have worked very hard at honing them: My organizational skills have been among my keys to success.
Some people have innate talent at being organized. Others are disorganized people who have to continually fight their tendencies to be disorganized. In any case, being organized and disciplined are absolutely critical to success. If you’re not organized and disciplined, you can become that way through hard work that will pay off in the long run.
You can start off with that hard work by doing some very simple tasks. Keeping a daily task list and a daily calendar will be very helpful to you. And you can discipline yourself in small doses. For example, you can pledge to yourself that you will read one minute per day in a book on finance that you have been avoiding. Or you can set your mind on reading boring emails for one minute a day. Over time, you’ll likely find tasks that you once dreaded becoming less intolerable. This will be so in large part because we are by nature creatures of habit: When we are participating in things that we do as habits then we are functioning as we were designed to.
Better yet, when we become organized then we are able to realize that we are getting things done. Mundane activities are then no longer in the realm of inconveniences. Instead, they become quantifiable actions and accomplishments. And that also ties into how we are designed as humans. We were created to do things. It’s part and parcel of our being alive.
Oftentimes as entrepreneurs we create our own obstacles and we don’t even perceive when we’re doing it. For example, we can pick partners that will cause turmoil for us because we have different priorities and can’t work together harmoniously. In such scenarios the distractions become relentless.
People who want to succeed but are facing personal behavior-related roadblocks might say something like the following to themselves: “I see that I do that. I might not be able to stop doing that out of my own motivation. But I realize that I need to stop doing it in order to be successful, regardless of my own feelings and shortcomings. So I am going to stop doing it forthwith.” By doing so, such people kill two birds with one stone. They find motivation to stop doing things that cause grief and suffering, and they find ways to get closer to the success they seek.
The thing that I noticed most in myself is that it was my distractions that prevented me from succeeding as quickly as I wanted to. My distractions steered me away from trying to create things that were good. My distractions prevented me from setting my intentions every day when I went to work. They kept me from really making sure that my motives were on par with my success goals.
It was the case with me, as it is with everyone, that distractions caused me to act impulsively rather than to act in accordance with goals for personal success. For that reason, meditation is most definitely a key to success for anyone. When you meditate properly, you gain control over your thought processes. Subsequently, you can think strategically, intelligently, and purposefully, rather than being driven by the chaotic reactivity that distraction causes.