By: Alan Zimmerman
On the night of the dress rehearsal, the old violinist was the only one there, ready and on time. The orchestra conductor said, “I want you to know how much I appreciate you being here.” The old man replied, “Well, I thought it was the least I could do seeing I can’t be here for the concert.”
In a similar sense, almost everyone wants to be more successful on and off the job. But if they’re really honest, they also want to know the least they can do to be more successful.
Well, there are five little behavioral changes you can make so you can become wildly successful.
Here they are.
1. Change from chance to choice.
The losers in life just wait around to see what is going to happen. They don’t really do anything to make it happen; they just take their chances.
By contrast, a champion is very clear about what personal and professional success means to him. And then he chooses actions that will make his definition come true.
So ask yourself, “Have you figured out your own definition of success? Could you stand up, right now, in the midst of a staff meeting, and give a five-minute talk on your definition of success? Do you know exactly what you would say?”
Most people couldn’t give such a talk because they’ve never given much thought to their definition of success. So it’s no wonder their careers aren’t going anywhere, or their relationships are less than satisfactory, or they end up broke when they’re retired.
Clarify your definition and then choose success-producing behaviors.
If, for example, your definition of success includes the development of an exciting, close marital or family relationship, then 12-hour work days are out. If your definition of success includes a long healthy life, you’ve got to stop smoking, exercise regularly, eat in moderation, and get adequate rest.
2. Change from convenience to conviction.
One of my audience members illustrated the difference. Even though he was a successful insurance salesman, Tom said he always wanted to be a doctor in a third-world country. But the sales profession promised him a great deal more money, in much quicker fashion, than pursuing a medical career overseas.
So he’d been selling insurance for 30 years … because it was the convenient thing to do. It’s what his Dad had done, and going into the business didn’t take a lot of thought or conviction.
Tom admitted that he dragged himself out of bed, five days a week, for 30 years, to do something he didn’t care that much about. If he had done what he really wanted to do, if he had become a doctor, he may have made less money, but he almost certainly would have been a happier and more successful human being.
What about you? Have you chosen a career path based on convenience or conviction? Have you chosen work you really enjoy and truly believe in?
3. Change from education to empowerment
No matter how many skills you have, you’ll always lack some skills. Unfortunately, the losers excuse or justify their lack of skills. They say such things as: “That’s just the way I am,” or “I could never do such-and-such.”
Or just as pathetic, the losers wait for someone else to give them the skills and education they need. They say, “It’s my company’s job to give me the training I need. It’s not my responsibility.” Try saying that in your next job interview and see how far you get. Nowhere.
On the other hand, champions take responsibility for their lives and their careers. They go after the skills they need. Not only for the sake of continuing education but for the ultimate goal of self-empowerment, so they go from one level of success to the next.
Does that describe you? If so, there should be some evidence of continuing education and self-empowerment in your life. Perhaps you read a chapter a day in a book that will keep you abreast of the latest changes in your field. And perhaps you listen to a motivational recording as you drive to work, picking up the information and inspiration to become a more effective human being overall.
4. Change from wisecracks to wisdom
Everybody has opinions. But the champions in life carefully choose who they will listen to. After all, the reason a lot of people never get ahead is they keep on paying attention to the opinions of the ignorant.
Your brother, for example, may be a wonderful man, a good husband and father, and a great gardener. But that narrows the range of his valid opinions to marriage, parenting, and gardening. Not business growth, team building, or leadership development.
You see, people are quick to dispense advice on any subject, regardless of their qualifications to do so. It makes them feel important. They rarely give any thought to their qualifications. They just spout out their opinions. That’s why champions must carefully choose who they listen to.
As an author and professional speaker, I help my clients create strategies that will make them more positive and productive. But then those same clients are assaulted by an ignorant coworker who says, “That will never work.”
Unfortunately, none of those opinion givers has any expertise in personal and professional development. None of them has spent the 30 years of time and research on the topic as I have. That’s why I tell my audiences that people have a constitutional right to their ignorant opinions, but you have an entrepreneurial responsibility to ignore them.
5. Change from patience to persistence.
Now that may sound like the same thing — patience and persistence — but there’s a huge difference.
The losers in life, the people who just get by, may have admirable patience, but that may be all they have. And passive patience, in and of itself, seldom brings victory.
Champions, however, practice active persistence. They keep on doing something until victory is achieved.
To beef up your persistence, start by believing in the power of persistence. Great people invariably swear by it. They know that more often than not it pays off, and it pays big time.
Soichiro Honda, the founder of the Honda Motor Corporation affirmed that. He said, “Success is 99 percent failure.” In other words, success will come if you just keep on keeping on, no matter how many setbacks or failures you encounter.
And Albert Einstein, who is always praised for his brilliance, said, “It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
Getting ahead, winning, succeeding, being a peak performer, reaching the top, whatever you want to call it, is NOT a mystery. All the evidence indicates that it is possible — even probable — if you make these five little behavioral turns.