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10 Things Successful People Do To Stay Motivated

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10 Things Successful People Do To Stay Motivated

What do highly successful people have that others don’t?  What contributes to their success? It has nothing to do with money or even luck.

It’s all about motivation. What do successful people do to help keep them motivated?

Here are 10 steps successful people do to keep motivated:

1. They set goals

I mean specific goals. While your ultimate goal may be to become rich, what mini, more focused, goals is it going to take to get you there?

For example, instead of saying you want to have a booming business or to own a home, start by saying you plan to develop a sound business plan or put $5,000 in your savings.

Create short-term goals that are to the point. Something that is tangible that is within your reach.

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” – Zig Ziglar

2. They create a plan of action

What are goals without a plan to help you reach them?

Successful people know what it takes to reach their goals, and they create a plan of action that will serve as the roadmap to get them there.

Let’s take one of our goal examples. If your goal is to create a business plan, your plan of action should include writing a summary of your business idea, researching your competition, looking at different marketing strategies, researching different finance options, etc.

 

3. They schedule things

Feeling like you don’t have enough time can be overwhelming, and it can really halt your motivation.

The trick to staying motivated and getting things done is scheduling. In fact, many successful people don’t use to-do lists, they live by their calendar instead.

Break down your day into hourly, 30-minute, or even 15-minute intervals and schedule everything. I mean everything. Pencil in time to exercise, relax, run errands. It may seem tedious, but scheduling will really help structure your day and get things done.

 

4. They have an accountability partner

Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing for motivation. Share your goals, or even your calendar, with a friend or accountability partner. If nothing else gets your butt moving, having someone continually check up on you or ask you how you’re doing with your action plan, will.

 

5. They reframe negative situations  

We all have setbacks. We sometimes even completely fail. But successful people don’t let setbacks stop them. Instead, they reframe the situation and look at it differently.

Rather than spending time reflecting on what they did wrong and how they failed, they spend time thinking about what they could have done differently and how to improve the next time around.

 

Darren-Hardy---Adversity
 

6. They bounce back

Since we’re talking about setbacks, successful people reframe a bad situation, and then they move on. They assume that they alone have the power to change things, and they take the steps to make those changes.

 

7. They have fun

If you’re not having any fun, chances are you aren’t going to be motivated to do great things. If you take everything seriously, you’re going to start resenting your goal and may even discard it completely.

Sure, there are going to be elements of your action plan, or even daily tasks, that are just no fun. Nothing can change that. But let’s make them a bit more enjoyable to keep your motivation up!

Challenge yourself to get things done faster and more efficiently. Or take a second out of your day to watch a funny video online. Adding some fun, and humor, into your day can help keep your motivation going.

 

8. They write down everything

Not all ideas are going to be great ideas, and that’s fine. Motivated people write things down. Why? Because ideas don’t stay in our minds for very long and you never know when an idea will actually be great.

Writing things down also helps you keep your focus, reminding you what you’re working on, and working towards.

 

9. They meditate

What do successful people like Oprah, News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, and Ford Motor Company Chairman Bill Ford have in common?

They all take time each day to meditate. Meditation has been known to help lower your stress, improve performance and make you more productive.

It doesn’t take hours of transcendental meditation. Sitting for 20 minutes in peace and quiet, focusing on nothing but your breath, will do wonders for your productivity and motivation.

 

10. They visualize their future

Remember those goals we talked about? Both, focused and long-term? Successful people think about what they want to achieve. They look at the bigger picture. Before he hit it big, Jim Carrey often pictured directors interested in him. Keep your goals in mind. Visualize them. Stay motivated to them.

“I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.” – Muhammad Ali

Motivation is a funny thing. It comes and it goes. But the difference between people that succeed and those that don’t is that successful people remain motivated. They use these tricks to keep them working toward their goals, so that they can achieve their dreams.

What would you add to this list that keeps you motivated? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Sandhya

    Dec 13, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Very useful Article, you are telling the things in the way how great peoples will keep motivated by themselves.

  2. Ahmad Raad

    Aug 18, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Great tips, I strongly believe in them all. Small inclination can lead to very distant points after long years. So better to control inclination from early stage and monitor it through these valuable steps.

  3. Brian Bazhaus

    Jun 17, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Nice list. Quick note on meditation. Transcendental meditation practice is, in fact, just 20 minutes twice a day! Doesn’t take hours and hours, but done daily the hours will accumulate and so will the benefits!

  4. Evan

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Camilla,

    Great article here! It’s important that we set plans and visualize their achievement, while mapping out every step, I agree. And I really think this is a vital step that’s often glossed over for some reason, as many think you can just visualize it and be good!

    It takes these 10 steps to stay on track to your goals each day, because each day is a clean slate and a new opportunity to be great. Like in the Navy SEALs, you have to keep earning your Trident every single day or it could be taken away from you.

    Thank you!
    – Evan

    • Camilla Hallstrom

      Mar 30, 2016 at 9:46 pm

      Hey Evan,

      Thanks so much! 🙂

      Yup, I agree! I guess it’s how success is portrayed in the media, like something that just happens overnight. Whereas in reality, a lot of it has to do with strategizing and hustling for years.

      Navy SEALs is a great example. And as you say, every day is a new opportunity!

      Cheers,

      Camilla

  5. Charlene Rhinehart

    Jan 11, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Great article, Camilla! Accountability is key to success! I love that you added fun to the list. In order to be the best at what you do and create true success, you have to enjoy what you are doing. So many miss this important piece of the success equation. I would also add gratitude to the list. Writing down what you are grateful for allows you to open the doors for greater opportunities.. Thanks Camilla!

    • Camilla Hallstrom

      Jan 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      Charlene,

      Thank you so much for this 🙂 I really appreciate your kind words.

      Gratitude is a good one! It’s absolutely necessary to have a healthy and positive mind to get unstuck if you feel you’re not moving forward to where you want to be.

      Cheers,

      Camilla

  6. Chris

    Jan 10, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Love this article Camilla, I love to hear how other people have achieved success, probably why I’m infatuated with books of successful people in the world. I resonate with the idea of having an accountability partner, someone who can hold you accountable for your goals, we always achieve more when someone knows of our plans!

    Great article keep up the good work Camilla 🙂

    • Camilla Hallstrom

      Jan 11, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks so much for the kind words and thanks for stopping by to comment 🙂

      I also love those books (of successful people)! They’re often filled with such inspirational insights.

      Finding a reliable accountability partner can get you from point A to B and C so much faster than if you do it all by yourself. It’s so easy to get stuck in your thoughts, and in these situations, accountability partners are invaluable.

      Cheers,

      Camilla

  7. Tony

    Jan 9, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Great article and great reminders. Staying motivated is hard. Losing direction is easy. Keeping accountability and structure helps with both. Thanks again for the tips. I’m going to utilize these and keep them posted upon my wall.

    • Camilla Hallstrom

      Jan 10, 2016 at 10:55 am

      Thanks for your comment, Tony! I’m so glad you found it useful and that you’ll implement them (posting them on your wall is a GREAT idea!).

      Cheers,

      Camilla

  8. Jamarr Hill

    Jan 9, 2016 at 4:58 am

    This was an awesome article, Camilla! I would add that they surround themselves with like-minded individuals.

    • Camilla Hallstrom

      Jan 9, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Thanks a lot, Jamarr, and thanks so much for your comment!

      That’s a great point, and one worth adding to the list.

      Cheers,

      Camilla

  9. stephen osoko

    Jan 8, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    This was a great article Camilla!
    I’ve been doing only some of these things so it looks like I’ve got to work LOL!
    Great Post!

    • Camilla Hallstrom

      Jan 9, 2016 at 10:28 am

      Thanks so much for your comment and kind words, Stephen!

      I’m really glad you found it useful 🙂

      Cheers,

      Camilla

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Success Advice

5 Simple Ways You Can Unleash Your Maximum Personal Potential

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maximize your potential
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Imagine living a life with unlimited potential, and you could achieve whatever you want. How good would that be? Nobody wants to live in mediocrity and everyone wants to live an extraordinary and fulfilling life. However, this is far from the truth.

Most people desire to live a limitless life, but most of them fail to realize their maximum potential. They are blocked by their own fears, stopped by the naysayers who tell them that what they want is impossible, and often get dejected by their own mistakes and failures.

Using the famous quote, “you only live once,” you may want to seriously consider living your life with your full potential. What if you have the potential to be extremely successful but because of self-doubt you don’t take action and live until age 80 only to feel regret?

I believe that nobody wants to live life with regrets, and no one wants to go through the journey with a limited potential. It is time for you to take charge of your life and start living life with your full potential.

Here are the 5 simple ways you can unleash your personal potential to help you reach a higher ground and achieve greater success in life:

1. Set a target and work towards it

Always start with a purpose and a goal. What is your intention, and what are the things that you want to be, do, and achieve in your life?

Without a clear target, you are living life like a lost sheep, following the crowd and going nowhere. Finding out what you want to accomplish in life is one of the most fundamental keys to reaching your potential. When you have a goal and work towards it, you are giving clear instructions to your mind of what you want to achieve.

Life is like shooting an arrow. If you want to hit the bull’s eye, you must first identify the target. Without knowing where you want to go, you will end up nowhere. Therefore, identify your purpose in life. Sit down and think deeply of what kind of lifestyle you want to live and what are the things that truly matter to you. Pursue them.

Set goals and pour in your effort to achieve them. No matter what goals you are trying to achieve, when you work consciously toward something you desire, you are building great habits and growing your potential in that area.

2. Raise your standards

The next thing you can do to unleash your potential is to raise your standards.

First, you must not compare yourself with others because your only competitor in your life is yourself. You just need to do better than yourself. If you are trying to compare yourself with others, there will be no end. There is always another mountain which is higher.

Second, set your own benchmarks. As long as you are moving forward and making progress, you should feel proud of yourself. You should focus on what you can do to improve yourself to do better each day instead of comparing yourself to others. There will be others making progress faster than you, but that’s absolutely alright because that’s how life works.

Finally, raise your standards and turn your “should” into “must.” When you do that, you are making the inner shift to mastering and improving the quality of your life. Tony Robbins says, “Any area you are not getting what you want is because you haven’t raised your standards.”

No matter what goals or what kind of achievement you want to accomplish, you will never get them as long as you still cling to your older self, and not raise the bar of your level of acceptance.

“Raise your standards and you will rise along with them.” – Mastin Kipp

3. Maintain your self-confidence

Your self-confidence is important when it comes to unleashing your maximum potential. When you are confident, you perform better. One of the easiest ways to increase your self-confidence is through preparation.

Les Brown said it wisely, “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” Preparation is all about making the effort. If you want to be a successful footballer, your preparation is training. The more you train, the better you become. The better you become, the more self-confidence you will have.

Regardless of what industry or field you are in, you must always get yourself prepared. If you are a writer, write and consistently improve your writing skills. If you are in business, learn the business in and out and improve your skills so that you can grow your business to the next level.

Your level of preparation will determine your level of self-confidence. Remember that.

4. Build your momentum by taking baby steps

Success is a journey and not a destination. When it comes to unleashing your personal potential, it is not like taking a pill. There is no shortcut.

You have to grow your characters, habits, traits, and qualities by taking baby steps. Even if you are an extremely hard working person and you work 20 hours a day, success will not come to you overnight. It takes time.

Choose to build your momentum by making consistent progress. When you take small baby steps each day, you are growing your momentum. Eventually, you reach a tipping point and success will come to you. The problem with most people is that they quit and give up as soon as they don’t receive the results they want.

You need to build your inertia and maintain your momentum by making consistent progress. A river cuts through rocks not because of its power, but because of its persistence. Just like a river, that’s what you need to unleash your greatness.

“I start early and I stay late, day after day, year after year, it took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.” – Lionel Messi

5. Consistently pursue personal growth

You cannot grow and become better if you are not willing to learn. I love this quote from Zig Ziglar, “If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you’re determined to learn, no one can stop you.” The key is to commit to constant and never-ending improvement. Each day, you have to strive to get better than yesterday.

When you fail or you don’t get what you want in life, remember, it is because of you. When you become someone worthy of the success you want, success will come to you automatically. You don’t get what you want, you get what you become.

When you improve your knowledge, your skills, and increase your potential, better and higher success will come to you. Thus, focus on building and growing yourself. Commit to consistently pursuing your personal growth.

Which one of the above ways resonated most with you to expand your personal potential? Let us know below!

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Success Advice

Why Smart People Think Beyond Reason to Make Powerful Decisions

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How long has it been since you’ve had a tough decision to make at work? I bet it happens regularly, if it is not on a daily basis. Sure, making decisions can be exhilarating, but it can also be draining. Sometimes dreadful.

Your pulse accelerates, you start to sweat, your mind jumps from one point to the next, hoping to settle on something. You really want to make the right decision for you, for your team, for your organization. But often times, it can be a tough call. You wish you had the perfect step-by-step recipe to get to the right decision.

Well, in fact, decision-making is quite a complex process for everyone. So much that it is a very popular topic in management research.

For decades, academics have observed and interviewed successful senior leaders to understand and model the thought process that take them to the right decision. These studies resulted in the inescapable rational process. Which we are all very aware of.But what if there was a better way to make decisions that doesn’t just rely on rational thinking?

The problem with rational thinking

rational thinking

We are trained from an early age to develop our rational abilities. We are taught to systematically gather the relevant data, to analyze it, to design options and evaluate them, until we make the final decision. It is as a slow process requiring conscious and sustained effort. Our rational thinking make progress step by step and draws a logical conclusion. And that’s great. Indispensable.

I couldn’t agree more. I hold a Bachelor of Mathematics, and a scientific Master’s degree in Management. My natural preference is rational thinking. However, I must admit that rational thinking can be wrong. Or jammed, unable to decide.

I mean, do you always have enough time to gather data, analyze, evaluate options and decide? Do you always have all the data that is necessary? Does it sometimes happen, on the contrary, that you have so much data that it is overwhelming and you can no longer distinguish the forest from the trees? What if there was another way?

Rational thinking is not your only option

rational thinking

Senior leaders realize, and researchers have found out, that all decisions are not, or are not only, based on rational thinking. Decision-making also leverages … intuitive thinking. Smart leaders consider their intuitions — in addition to their rational analysis — when making decisions.

And the truth is, leaders consider their intuitions — in addition to their rational analysis — when making decisions:

“90% of the 60 leaders who participated in a study reported using their intuition in combination with rational data analysis. They found that their decisions were accelerated, and were better.” (Burke, Miller, 1999)

“Managers at the top of every [of the 2000] organizations surveyed scored higher than middle or lower-level managers on their ability to use their intuition to guide their key decisions.” (Agor, 1986)

This is a well-kept secret, isn’t it? I bet you rarely hear someone at work trying to convince you that this decision is better because his instinct says so. We would rather emphasize the extensive research and analysis we have done to give credibility to our decision.

However, it doesn’t mean that intuition is not instrumental to the process. So, let me explain what intuition is, exactly.

How intuition helps you reach the right decisions

intuition

Neuroscience understands that the human brain thinks in two different ways. There’s the rational process, as described above, and the intuitive process. The latter is not esoteric, magical, nor is it about a premonition.

Intuitions are the conclusions that spontaneously raise to your consciousness, without you being aware of the intermediate stages — although it is often possible to justify your intuition after the fact.

Imagine meeting someone for the first time. Within a blink of the eye, you have an opinion of the person. That’s an intuition. And, contrarily to reason, intuition is incredibly fast. Intuitions are conveyed to your consciousness by your emotions. The first thing that comes to mind is the feelings you have for this person. You like or dislike, you trust or you don’t.

Rather than dissecting information, the intuitive process of the brain makes connections almost instantaneously based on your experiences. By analogy and association, it synthesizes and jumps to conclusions. Beneath the surface, when you meet this person for the first time, your brain finds similarities with people you’ve known in the past, and concludes.

Intuition is thus essentially based on the knowledge accumulated through your experiences, all too often forgotten, and on the models of the world that you have created for yourself, of which you are often not aware of. You may or may not realize that this person in front of you reminds you of the type of people you don’t trust, as an example.

In fact, because it is spontaneous and effortless, intuition is the way of thinking that drives the majority of the decisions you make in a day. If the stakes are not high, intuition will prevail, it is so much easier and efficient. Whether you are conscious of it or not. Whether you like it or not.

Here are a few examples:

  • You slow down your car in traffic, because you instinctively understand that the car on the other lane is trying to cut you off.
  • You pick clothes in your closet that feel comfortable if you don’t have an official meeting today. You don’t need to rationally think over your choice.
  • You accept an invitation without hesitation because it feels exciting and you have time. No need for some complex thinking here either.

Does that mean you should always listen to your intuition?

listen to your intuition

Now, is this to say that your intuition is always right? Sorry, it is not the case. The quality of your intuitions depends on the quality of the knowledge you hold, and thus of your learning.

In fact, as you are getting experienced in your job, as you face numerous situations and overcome challenges, you develop mental models on the appropriate ways to react. That’s called expert intuition. It explains why senior people can make decision swiftly, without hesitation, and without a long rational process.

Your expertise may not only be related to your job. You can also be an expert in human relations, for example. If you have always been fascinated by people, and an avid observer of good and not-so-good interactions, you may intuitively know how to react with difficult people or situations.

However, a word of caution. Intuition can also tap into your biases and your fears. In those occasions, intuition could be wrong, and it is really difficult to tell when this happens. Intuitions, at the end of the day, are no more no less than assumptions. That’s why engaging both rational thinking and intuitive thinking is so important.

How smart people use intuition to make the best decisions

using your intuition

Let’s say you are in a restaurant. You read the menu, and choose one food rather than another according to how you feel about it. It is then your intuitive process that intervenes, without real awareness of what leads you to that choice.

That being said, if you are following a particular diet, you may rule out your initial choice. You can be the impartial observer of your feelings. You can decide to slow down for a second and have your rational thinking intervene to choose more proper food for you. You have a veto power over your intuitions.

The same holds true for decisions made in a professional context, even for the most rational of us. You have intuitions, and you have rational thoughts.

Let me ask you a question: When you have a decision to make, how would you describe your typical thought process?

  1. You spontaneously have a feeling of what the right decision is, and then you engage your rational thinking to confirm whether or not your intuition is right. That is called strategic intuition.
  2. You first collect data, you analyze it, you evaluate your options, you make a rational decision and then you stop for a moment to perceive how you feel about the decision. That’s called conclusive intuition.

Strategic intuition and conclusive intuition are both efficient. But it speaks to your natural preference, and to the level of experience you hold. The more experience, the more mental models you developed over time, and the easiest it is for your brain to make connections and associations, and thus generate intuitions.

In both instances, integrating intuition and reason increases dramatically the potential for you to make the right decision.

Intuition is really an assumption your brain makes based on your experience. Relying solely on your intuition could be risky, unless you don’t have the time to analyze the situation rationally — for example, in the middle of a heated discussion, or a particularly stressful situation.

Depending solely on your reason is also suboptimal. Your brain has the capacity to detect information beneath the surface which could have a crucial impact on your decision. Ignoring it could lead you to the wrong conclusion.

The more you navigate between the two processes, the more knowledge you tap into, the better the decisions, and the more you can adapt to circumstances. You can decide how much you rely on one or the other — or both. It is a matter of choice, and practice.

Make the best use of your brain’s powers to make smart decisions

brain power

Imagine that going forward, you listen to the little voice inside of you, in addition to proceeding systematically, rationally.

Imagine that going forward, you navigate between your reason and your intuition. You dig deeper into your feelings, the voice of your intuition, and challenge your reason. Similarly, you observe impartially feelings that arise, take a step back, and apply your veto if you know better.

Navigating between your reason and your intuition, you tap into the knowledge you are aware of at a conscious level, and also into the wisdom you hold beneath the surface. Chances are that you will make better informed decisions, even if time is short, data is insufficient, or contradictory.

As a senior leader once told me:This will make the difference between a potential of success, and an assured failure.

References:

This article is based on the research I performed for my Master’s thesis (2017). The full bibliography includes over 100 articles and books, of which:

BURKE, Lisa A., MILLER, Monica K., Taking the mystery out of intuitive decision-making Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 13, №4, p. 91–98, New York, Academy of Management, 1999

AGOR, Weston H., The Logic of Intuition: How Top Executives Make Important Decisions, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 14, №3, p. 5–18, Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1986

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Success Advice

5 B.S. Facts About High Performers Everyone Thinks Is True

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High performers are often seen in the world as people who set their mind on something and make it happen regardless of what it takes to get it accomplished. Much of the time that may be true. However, the way high performers are seen in the world is often in direct conflict with the way they behave when people aren’t watching. Even though they are seen as amazing experts and masters to others, they often see themselves as in need of improvement and can feel dissatisfied with the results they have achieved.

Despite how they appear, they are not much different than you or me with one exception. High performers are totally committed to what it is that they are doing. They function within the uncertainty of daily life just as you do but they conquer their limitations differently. Whether the odds are stacked with them or against them, a high performer will be totally committed to reaching their goals.

You may even be a high performer yourself and don’t realize it because some of your habits would not be considered high level ones. It is common for individuals to compare their accomplishments to others based on what we observe as their results.

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” – Nelson Mandela

In fact, you may have lowered your personal bar of excellence because you thought you didn’t measure up to those that always seem to land at the top no matter what. I think you’d be surprised to learn that many very successful high performers don’t function the way you think they do.

Here are 5 B.S. facts about high performers that everyone thinks is true:

B.S. Fact #1 – Perfection is the way they play their game

You would think that in order to appear perfect you would probably need to do everything perfectly. It’s so not true! High performers actually pursue excellence as a goal and not perfection. It allows them to get more done with a higher level of consistency and sets them up for success rather than failure.

B.S. Fact #2 – Organization is their secret weapon

Just take a look at the desk of a genius. You probably wouldn’t be able to see the surface beneath the stacks of books, papers and whatever else may be on top of it. High performers typically have a formula as to where they put things and why. To the observer, it’s usually just a big mess with no identifiable system. However, I assure you, a high performer will still know where everything is regardless of the chaos that surrounds their personal space and schedule.

B.S. Fact #3 – They’ve all walked Ivy League hallways

Though it is true that many well educated people reach great success, statistically, some of the most influential success stories are about people who lacked resources and education. High performers will always seek out whatever or whoever is available so that they can learn what they need to and create their vision despite whatever odds happen to be stacked against them.

B.S. Fact #4 – They don’t have squirrel brain

Focus. It seems like this would be the number one rule to follow on the road to results.  However, there are many high performers who get distracted by people and ideas that totally derail them from what they were doing. Often times, it is not their focus but their agenda that keeps them on track. They know what they need to do even if it doesn’t always get accomplished in the way they thought they would get it done. However, it always gets done.

“High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true.” – Robert H. Schuller

B.S. Fact #5 – They see themselves as the king of the jungle

Confidence seems to pour out of those who always seem to succeed. When, in reality, so many high performers struggle with it. Questioning whether or not they’re doing the right things or whether what they’re doing is good enough can be a constant personal dialogue. Fear of being negatively judged is the biggest reason why most people don’t take chances or take action on their big dreams but high performers move forward anyway. Their insecurity doesn’t stop them from what they want.

So, why should it matter to you what is fact or fiction about high performers? The answer; because you will compare yourself to others at times and it would be a tragedy if you stopped yourself from achieving big goals due to a belief that you’re not as good as someone else.

High performers achieve results. They know what they want, they plan it and they achieve it. Just because you have a few habits that won’t get applauded if people actually knew about them doesn’t mean that you can’t be one of the experts or podium finishers too.

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Success Advice

Do You Want to Become a Leader? Read This First

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How do you become an adult in a society that doesn’t ask for sacrifice? How do you become a man in a world that doesn’t require courage? The test of leadership isn’t done on the couch, discussing things with internet trolls and commentators. Leadership, like philosophy, is action-based and can’t be separated from that into a purely theoretical field.

To become a leader, it isn’t enough to read about it, you need to live through it. That leads us to the first point.

1. Experience trumps theory

Theory and practice are the same in theory, but they are not the same in practice. For you to become a leader, you need to put yourself in situations which demand leadership. If you are at home trying really hard to think about situations where leadership is required and can’t find a place where that can happen, you are not thinking about the problems in your life and community.

Leadership is about going through uncertainty while showing people a better way. So any area of life where there is uncertainty is an area where there is a possibility for leadership to emerge.

You don’t have to lead a company of 10,000 employees to experience leadership, you can do it in a local community of 5 people or as I did in a leadership organization with 200 people. But leadership doesn’t start with leading other people, it starts with leading yourself.

“Leadership is practice not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” – Harold S. Geneen

2. To lead others, you must learn to lead yourself

Telling other people what they need to do is “easy.” Showing the way yourself is a hundred times harder. Because what you do speaks so loud that people can’t hear what you’re saying. In other words, leadership is about having personal integrity and practicing what you preach. You would never follow the advice of a fat personal trainer, a broke accountant, or a real estate agent who doesn’t even own a dog house.

You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all. But the thing is that this is easier said than done. I remember when we had a crisis in our team back in 2013. Every single person from the team quit, leaving the president and me alone to fight the battle. My integrity of not quitting didn’t let me walk away and we kept pushing together.

That’s what leadership is about – you need to walk the talk. Because to lead yourself and to lead others, you need to make decisions which follow up your integrity. That leads us to the third point.

3. Leadership is about making the right, painful decisions

If you choose easy decisions, your life will be hard. If you choose hard decisions, your life will be easy. And there are numerous decisions which leaders did in the past which have been hard at the moment. But when you’re a leader, you don’t make decisions on a scale of easy-hard, you make them on a scale of right-wrong.

Firing the VP of sales is always hard. But doing it because he violated the principles of the company makes it right. It’s a trade-off 90% of people are not willing to make and I see it day in, day out. As soon as a decision becomes hard, people start doubting their values, morals, and integrity. They let the fear of uncertainty cloud their judgments and they make an easy call.

They let the VP stay because it’s the easy thing to do and with that, they seal their fate. Leadership is painful and it always was. I remember when I had to let 20 people go or fire two of my VPs. Was it hard? Of course it was. But it was the right thing to do. This doesn’t make the decision any easier, but it makes it bearable.

You know where you need to lead people and even though there is massive uncertainty, you need to be certain that you will figure out any problem that comes in front of you. Which brings us to the last point.

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy

4. You need to have unyielding faith that you will prevail in the end

You don’t need to know every step of the way, but you need to know how you will react to problems. You need to be sure, absolutely, that you will deal, manage, and handle every single problem that comes your way and that your team and people who you lead are unstoppable on their way to achieving the vision.

This is unquestionable. You have no idea what will attack you, but you are certain that you will handle it. This is how you lead people through everything in life. This is how Shackleton led his expedition for 2 years on the Antarctic and how every single one of his people survived the hardships that attacked them.

Because people turn to the leader in face of trouble and that’s when you show your true face. Do you show your weak side, flounder, and run? Or do you stand strong like a supporting rock on which people can lean on?

When you deal with fire, you will learn how to defeat it without having your people get burned. You will sacrifice yourself and gain scars which don’t serve as a sign of victimhood but as a proof of courage. Are you gonna be courageous or are you gonna run away? There is only one way to find out.

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10 Lessons for Bootstrapping Your Startup to $1M Annual Revenue

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In an entrepreneurial landscape dominated by headlines of unicorn startups and billion-dollar acquisitions, getting a company to $1 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR) may sound like small change. Let’s be real, though, hitting $1 million ARR is an aspirational milestone most young companies can relate to. And it’s not that easy, especially if you’ve secured modest investments or no investment at all. (more…)

Kenneth Burke is the Marketing Director at Text Request, a business texting software company.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Sandhya

    Dec 13, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Very useful Article, you are telling the things in the way how great peoples will keep motivated by themselves.

  2. Ahmad Raad

    Aug 18, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    Great tips, I strongly believe in them all. Small inclination can lead to very distant points after long years. So better to control inclination from early stage and monitor it through these valuable steps.

  3. Brian Bazhaus

    Jun 17, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Nice list. Quick note on meditation. Transcendental meditation practice is, in fact, just 20 minutes twice a day! Doesn’t take hours and hours, but done daily the hours will accumulate and so will the benefits!

  4. Evan

    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Camilla,

    Great article here! It’s important that we set plans and visualize their achievement, while mapping out every step, I agree. And I really think this is a vital step that’s often glossed over for some reason, as many think you can just visualize it and be good!

    It takes these 10 steps to stay on track to your goals each day, because each day is a clean slate and a new opportunity to be great. Like in the Navy SEALs, you have to keep earning your Trident every single day or it could be taken away from you.

    Thank you!
    – Evan

    • Camilla Hallstrom

      Mar 30, 2016 at 9:46 pm

      Hey Evan,

      Thanks so much! 🙂

      Yup, I agree! I guess it’s how success is portrayed in the media, like something that just happens overnight. Whereas in reality, a lot of it has to do with strategizing and hustling for years.

      Navy SEALs is a great example. And as you say, every day is a new opportunity!

      Cheers,

      Camilla

  5. Charlene Rhinehart

    Jan 11, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Great article, Camilla! Accountability is key to success! I love that you added fun to the list. In order to be the best at what you do and create true success, you have to enjoy what you are doing. So many miss this important piece of the success equation. I would also add gratitude to the list. Writing down what you are grateful for allows you to open the doors for greater opportunities.. Thanks Camilla!

    • Camilla Hallstrom

      Jan 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      Charlene,

      Thank you so much for this 🙂 I really appreciate your kind words.

      Gratitude is a good one! It’s absolutely necessary to have a healthy and positive mind to get unstuck if you feel you’re not moving forward to where you want to be.

      Cheers,

      Camilla

  6. Chris

    Jan 10, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Love this article Camilla, I love to hear how other people have achieved success, probably why I’m infatuated with books of successful people in the world. I resonate with the idea of having an accountability partner, someone who can hold you accountable for your goals, we always achieve more when someone knows of our plans!

    Great article keep up the good work Camilla 🙂

    • Camilla Hallstrom

      Jan 11, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks so much for the kind words and thanks for stopping by to comment 🙂

      I also love those books (of successful people)! They’re often filled with such inspirational insights.

      Finding a reliable accountability partner can get you from point A to B and C so much faster than if you do it all by yourself. It’s so easy to get stuck in your thoughts, and in these situations, accountability partners are invaluable.

      Cheers,

      Camilla

  7. Tony

    Jan 9, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    Great article and great reminders. Staying motivated is hard. Losing direction is easy. Keeping accountability and structure helps with both. Thanks again for the tips. I’m going to utilize these and keep them posted upon my wall.

    • Camilla Hallstrom

      Jan 10, 2016 at 10:55 am

      Thanks for your comment, Tony! I’m so glad you found it useful and that you’ll implement them (posting them on your wall is a GREAT idea!).

      Cheers,

      Camilla

  8. Jamarr Hill

    Jan 9, 2016 at 4:58 am

    This was an awesome article, Camilla! I would add that they surround themselves with like-minded individuals.

    • Camilla Hallstrom

      Jan 9, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Thanks a lot, Jamarr, and thanks so much for your comment!

      That’s a great point, and one worth adding to the list.

      Cheers,

      Camilla

  9. stephen osoko

    Jan 8, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    This was a great article Camilla!
    I’ve been doing only some of these things so it looks like I’ve got to work LOL!
    Great Post!

    • Camilla Hallstrom

      Jan 9, 2016 at 10:28 am

      Thanks so much for your comment and kind words, Stephen!

      I’m really glad you found it useful 🙂

      Cheers,

      Camilla

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Success Advice

5 Simple Ways You Can Unleash Your Maximum Personal Potential

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Imagine living a life with unlimited potential, and you could achieve whatever you want. How good would that be? Nobody wants to live in mediocrity and everyone wants to live an extraordinary and fulfilling life. However, this is far from the truth.

Most people desire to live a limitless life, but most of them fail to realize their maximum potential. They are blocked by their own fears, stopped by the naysayers who tell them that what they want is impossible, and often get dejected by their own mistakes and failures.

Using the famous quote, “you only live once,” you may want to seriously consider living your life with your full potential. What if you have the potential to be extremely successful but because of self-doubt you don’t take action and live until age 80 only to feel regret?

I believe that nobody wants to live life with regrets, and no one wants to go through the journey with a limited potential. It is time for you to take charge of your life and start living life with your full potential.

Here are the 5 simple ways you can unleash your personal potential to help you reach a higher ground and achieve greater success in life:

1. Set a target and work towards it

Always start with a purpose and a goal. What is your intention, and what are the things that you want to be, do, and achieve in your life?

Without a clear target, you are living life like a lost sheep, following the crowd and going nowhere. Finding out what you want to accomplish in life is one of the most fundamental keys to reaching your potential. When you have a goal and work towards it, you are giving clear instructions to your mind of what you want to achieve.

Life is like shooting an arrow. If you want to hit the bull’s eye, you must first identify the target. Without knowing where you want to go, you will end up nowhere. Therefore, identify your purpose in life. Sit down and think deeply of what kind of lifestyle you want to live and what are the things that truly matter to you. Pursue them.

Set goals and pour in your effort to achieve them. No matter what goals you are trying to achieve, when you work consciously toward something you desire, you are building great habits and growing your potential in that area.

2. Raise your standards

The next thing you can do to unleash your potential is to raise your standards.

First, you must not compare yourself with others because your only competitor in your life is yourself. You just need to do better than yourself. If you are trying to compare yourself with others, there will be no end. There is always another mountain which is higher.

Second, set your own benchmarks. As long as you are moving forward and making progress, you should feel proud of yourself. You should focus on what you can do to improve yourself to do better each day instead of comparing yourself to others. There will be others making progress faster than you, but that’s absolutely alright because that’s how life works.

Finally, raise your standards and turn your “should” into “must.” When you do that, you are making the inner shift to mastering and improving the quality of your life. Tony Robbins says, “Any area you are not getting what you want is because you haven’t raised your standards.”

No matter what goals or what kind of achievement you want to accomplish, you will never get them as long as you still cling to your older self, and not raise the bar of your level of acceptance.

“Raise your standards and you will rise along with them.” – Mastin Kipp

3. Maintain your self-confidence

Your self-confidence is important when it comes to unleashing your maximum potential. When you are confident, you perform better. One of the easiest ways to increase your self-confidence is through preparation.

Les Brown said it wisely, “It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” Preparation is all about making the effort. If you want to be a successful footballer, your preparation is training. The more you train, the better you become. The better you become, the more self-confidence you will have.

Regardless of what industry or field you are in, you must always get yourself prepared. If you are a writer, write and consistently improve your writing skills. If you are in business, learn the business in and out and improve your skills so that you can grow your business to the next level.

Your level of preparation will determine your level of self-confidence. Remember that.

4. Build your momentum by taking baby steps

Success is a journey and not a destination. When it comes to unleashing your personal potential, it is not like taking a pill. There is no shortcut.

You have to grow your characters, habits, traits, and qualities by taking baby steps. Even if you are an extremely hard working person and you work 20 hours a day, success will not come to you overnight. It takes time.

Choose to build your momentum by making consistent progress. When you take small baby steps each day, you are growing your momentum. Eventually, you reach a tipping point and success will come to you. The problem with most people is that they quit and give up as soon as they don’t receive the results they want.

You need to build your inertia and maintain your momentum by making consistent progress. A river cuts through rocks not because of its power, but because of its persistence. Just like a river, that’s what you need to unleash your greatness.

“I start early and I stay late, day after day, year after year, it took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.” – Lionel Messi

5. Consistently pursue personal growth

You cannot grow and become better if you are not willing to learn. I love this quote from Zig Ziglar, “If you’re not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you’re determined to learn, no one can stop you.” The key is to commit to constant and never-ending improvement. Each day, you have to strive to get better than yesterday.

When you fail or you don’t get what you want in life, remember, it is because of you. When you become someone worthy of the success you want, success will come to you automatically. You don’t get what you want, you get what you become.

When you improve your knowledge, your skills, and increase your potential, better and higher success will come to you. Thus, focus on building and growing yourself. Commit to consistently pursuing your personal growth.

Which one of the above ways resonated most with you to expand your personal potential? Let us know below!

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Success Advice

Why Smart People Think Beyond Reason to Make Powerful Decisions

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How long has it been since you’ve had a tough decision to make at work? I bet it happens regularly, if it is not on a daily basis. Sure, making decisions can be exhilarating, but it can also be draining. Sometimes dreadful.

Your pulse accelerates, you start to sweat, your mind jumps from one point to the next, hoping to settle on something. You really want to make the right decision for you, for your team, for your organization. But often times, it can be a tough call. You wish you had the perfect step-by-step recipe to get to the right decision.

Well, in fact, decision-making is quite a complex process for everyone. So much that it is a very popular topic in management research.

For decades, academics have observed and interviewed successful senior leaders to understand and model the thought process that take them to the right decision. These studies resulted in the inescapable rational process. Which we are all very aware of.But what if there was a better way to make decisions that doesn’t just rely on rational thinking?

The problem with rational thinking

rational thinking

We are trained from an early age to develop our rational abilities. We are taught to systematically gather the relevant data, to analyze it, to design options and evaluate them, until we make the final decision. It is as a slow process requiring conscious and sustained effort. Our rational thinking make progress step by step and draws a logical conclusion. And that’s great. Indispensable.

I couldn’t agree more. I hold a Bachelor of Mathematics, and a scientific Master’s degree in Management. My natural preference is rational thinking. However, I must admit that rational thinking can be wrong. Or jammed, unable to decide.

I mean, do you always have enough time to gather data, analyze, evaluate options and decide? Do you always have all the data that is necessary? Does it sometimes happen, on the contrary, that you have so much data that it is overwhelming and you can no longer distinguish the forest from the trees? What if there was another way?

Rational thinking is not your only option

rational thinking

Senior leaders realize, and researchers have found out, that all decisions are not, or are not only, based on rational thinking. Decision-making also leverages … intuitive thinking. Smart leaders consider their intuitions — in addition to their rational analysis — when making decisions.

And the truth is, leaders consider their intuitions — in addition to their rational analysis — when making decisions:

“90% of the 60 leaders who participated in a study reported using their intuition in combination with rational data analysis. They found that their decisions were accelerated, and were better.” (Burke, Miller, 1999)

“Managers at the top of every [of the 2000] organizations surveyed scored higher than middle or lower-level managers on their ability to use their intuition to guide their key decisions.” (Agor, 1986)

This is a well-kept secret, isn’t it? I bet you rarely hear someone at work trying to convince you that this decision is better because his instinct says so. We would rather emphasize the extensive research and analysis we have done to give credibility to our decision.

However, it doesn’t mean that intuition is not instrumental to the process. So, let me explain what intuition is, exactly.

How intuition helps you reach the right decisions

intuition

Neuroscience understands that the human brain thinks in two different ways. There’s the rational process, as described above, and the intuitive process. The latter is not esoteric, magical, nor is it about a premonition.

Intuitions are the conclusions that spontaneously raise to your consciousness, without you being aware of the intermediate stages — although it is often possible to justify your intuition after the fact.

Imagine meeting someone for the first time. Within a blink of the eye, you have an opinion of the person. That’s an intuition. And, contrarily to reason, intuition is incredibly fast. Intuitions are conveyed to your consciousness by your emotions. The first thing that comes to mind is the feelings you have for this person. You like or dislike, you trust or you don’t.

Rather than dissecting information, the intuitive process of the brain makes connections almost instantaneously based on your experiences. By analogy and association, it synthesizes and jumps to conclusions. Beneath the surface, when you meet this person for the first time, your brain finds similarities with people you’ve known in the past, and concludes.

Intuition is thus essentially based on the knowledge accumulated through your experiences, all too often forgotten, and on the models of the world that you have created for yourself, of which you are often not aware of. You may or may not realize that this person in front of you reminds you of the type of people you don’t trust, as an example.

In fact, because it is spontaneous and effortless, intuition is the way of thinking that drives the majority of the decisions you make in a day. If the stakes are not high, intuition will prevail, it is so much easier and efficient. Whether you are conscious of it or not. Whether you like it or not.

Here are a few examples:

  • You slow down your car in traffic, because you instinctively understand that the car on the other lane is trying to cut you off.
  • You pick clothes in your closet that feel comfortable if you don’t have an official meeting today. You don’t need to rationally think over your choice.
  • You accept an invitation without hesitation because it feels exciting and you have time. No need for some complex thinking here either.

Does that mean you should always listen to your intuition?

listen to your intuition

Now, is this to say that your intuition is always right? Sorry, it is not the case. The quality of your intuitions depends on the quality of the knowledge you hold, and thus of your learning.

In fact, as you are getting experienced in your job, as you face numerous situations and overcome challenges, you develop mental models on the appropriate ways to react. That’s called expert intuition. It explains why senior people can make decision swiftly, without hesitation, and without a long rational process.

Your expertise may not only be related to your job. You can also be an expert in human relations, for example. If you have always been fascinated by people, and an avid observer of good and not-so-good interactions, you may intuitively know how to react with difficult people or situations.

However, a word of caution. Intuition can also tap into your biases and your fears. In those occasions, intuition could be wrong, and it is really difficult to tell when this happens. Intuitions, at the end of the day, are no more no less than assumptions. That’s why engaging both rational thinking and intuitive thinking is so important.

How smart people use intuition to make the best decisions

using your intuition

Let’s say you are in a restaurant. You read the menu, and choose one food rather than another according to how you feel about it. It is then your intuitive process that intervenes, without real awareness of what leads you to that choice.

That being said, if you are following a particular diet, you may rule out your initial choice. You can be the impartial observer of your feelings. You can decide to slow down for a second and have your rational thinking intervene to choose more proper food for you. You have a veto power over your intuitions.

The same holds true for decisions made in a professional context, even for the most rational of us. You have intuitions, and you have rational thoughts.

Let me ask you a question: When you have a decision to make, how would you describe your typical thought process?

  1. You spontaneously have a feeling of what the right decision is, and then you engage your rational thinking to confirm whether or not your intuition is right. That is called strategic intuition.
  2. You first collect data, you analyze it, you evaluate your options, you make a rational decision and then you stop for a moment to perceive how you feel about the decision. That’s called conclusive intuition.

Strategic intuition and conclusive intuition are both efficient. But it speaks to your natural preference, and to the level of experience you hold. The more experience, the more mental models you developed over time, and the easiest it is for your brain to make connections and associations, and thus generate intuitions.

In both instances, integrating intuition and reason increases dramatically the potential for you to make the right decision.

Intuition is really an assumption your brain makes based on your experience. Relying solely on your intuition could be risky, unless you don’t have the time to analyze the situation rationally — for example, in the middle of a heated discussion, or a particularly stressful situation.

Depending solely on your reason is also suboptimal. Your brain has the capacity to detect information beneath the surface which could have a crucial impact on your decision. Ignoring it could lead you to the wrong conclusion.

The more you navigate between the two processes, the more knowledge you tap into, the better the decisions, and the more you can adapt to circumstances. You can decide how much you rely on one or the other — or both. It is a matter of choice, and practice.

Make the best use of your brain’s powers to make smart decisions

brain power

Imagine that going forward, you listen to the little voice inside of you, in addition to proceeding systematically, rationally.

Imagine that going forward, you navigate between your reason and your intuition. You dig deeper into your feelings, the voice of your intuition, and challenge your reason. Similarly, you observe impartially feelings that arise, take a step back, and apply your veto if you know better.

Navigating between your reason and your intuition, you tap into the knowledge you are aware of at a conscious level, and also into the wisdom you hold beneath the surface. Chances are that you will make better informed decisions, even if time is short, data is insufficient, or contradictory.

As a senior leader once told me:This will make the difference between a potential of success, and an assured failure.

References:

This article is based on the research I performed for my Master’s thesis (2017). The full bibliography includes over 100 articles and books, of which:

BURKE, Lisa A., MILLER, Monica K., Taking the mystery out of intuitive decision-making Academy of Management Executive, Vol. 13, №4, p. 91–98, New York, Academy of Management, 1999

AGOR, Weston H., The Logic of Intuition: How Top Executives Make Important Decisions, Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 14, №3, p. 5–18, Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1986

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Success Advice

5 B.S. Facts About High Performers Everyone Thinks Is True

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High performers are often seen in the world as people who set their mind on something and make it happen regardless of what it takes to get it accomplished. Much of the time that may be true. However, the way high performers are seen in the world is often in direct conflict with the way they behave when people aren’t watching. Even though they are seen as amazing experts and masters to others, they often see themselves as in need of improvement and can feel dissatisfied with the results they have achieved.

Despite how they appear, they are not much different than you or me with one exception. High performers are totally committed to what it is that they are doing. They function within the uncertainty of daily life just as you do but they conquer their limitations differently. Whether the odds are stacked with them or against them, a high performer will be totally committed to reaching their goals.

You may even be a high performer yourself and don’t realize it because some of your habits would not be considered high level ones. It is common for individuals to compare their accomplishments to others based on what we observe as their results.

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” – Nelson Mandela

In fact, you may have lowered your personal bar of excellence because you thought you didn’t measure up to those that always seem to land at the top no matter what. I think you’d be surprised to learn that many very successful high performers don’t function the way you think they do.

Here are 5 B.S. facts about high performers that everyone thinks is true:

B.S. Fact #1 – Perfection is the way they play their game

You would think that in order to appear perfect you would probably need to do everything perfectly. It’s so not true! High performers actually pursue excellence as a goal and not perfection. It allows them to get more done with a higher level of consistency and sets them up for success rather than failure.

B.S. Fact #2 – Organization is their secret weapon

Just take a look at the desk of a genius. You probably wouldn’t be able to see the surface beneath the stacks of books, papers and whatever else may be on top of it. High performers typically have a formula as to where they put things and why. To the observer, it’s usually just a big mess with no identifiable system. However, I assure you, a high performer will still know where everything is regardless of the chaos that surrounds their personal space and schedule.

B.S. Fact #3 – They’ve all walked Ivy League hallways

Though it is true that many well educated people reach great success, statistically, some of the most influential success stories are about people who lacked resources and education. High performers will always seek out whatever or whoever is available so that they can learn what they need to and create their vision despite whatever odds happen to be stacked against them.

B.S. Fact #4 – They don’t have squirrel brain

Focus. It seems like this would be the number one rule to follow on the road to results.  However, there are many high performers who get distracted by people and ideas that totally derail them from what they were doing. Often times, it is not their focus but their agenda that keeps them on track. They know what they need to do even if it doesn’t always get accomplished in the way they thought they would get it done. However, it always gets done.

“High achievers spot rich opportunities swiftly, make big decisions quickly and move into action immediately. Follow these principles and you can make your dreams come true.” – Robert H. Schuller

B.S. Fact #5 – They see themselves as the king of the jungle

Confidence seems to pour out of those who always seem to succeed. When, in reality, so many high performers struggle with it. Questioning whether or not they’re doing the right things or whether what they’re doing is good enough can be a constant personal dialogue. Fear of being negatively judged is the biggest reason why most people don’t take chances or take action on their big dreams but high performers move forward anyway. Their insecurity doesn’t stop them from what they want.

So, why should it matter to you what is fact or fiction about high performers? The answer; because you will compare yourself to others at times and it would be a tragedy if you stopped yourself from achieving big goals due to a belief that you’re not as good as someone else.

High performers achieve results. They know what they want, they plan it and they achieve it. Just because you have a few habits that won’t get applauded if people actually knew about them doesn’t mean that you can’t be one of the experts or podium finishers too.

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Do You Want to Become a Leader? Read This First

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How do you become an adult in a society that doesn’t ask for sacrifice? How do you become a man in a world that doesn’t require courage? The test of leadership isn’t done on the couch, discussing things with internet trolls and commentators. Leadership, like philosophy, is action-based and can’t be separated from that into a purely theoretical field.

To become a leader, it isn’t enough to read about it, you need to live through it. That leads us to the first point.

1. Experience trumps theory

Theory and practice are the same in theory, but they are not the same in practice. For you to become a leader, you need to put yourself in situations which demand leadership. If you are at home trying really hard to think about situations where leadership is required and can’t find a place where that can happen, you are not thinking about the problems in your life and community.

Leadership is about going through uncertainty while showing people a better way. So any area of life where there is uncertainty is an area where there is a possibility for leadership to emerge.

You don’t have to lead a company of 10,000 employees to experience leadership, you can do it in a local community of 5 people or as I did in a leadership organization with 200 people. But leadership doesn’t start with leading other people, it starts with leading yourself.

“Leadership is practice not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” – Harold S. Geneen

2. To lead others, you must learn to lead yourself

Telling other people what they need to do is “easy.” Showing the way yourself is a hundred times harder. Because what you do speaks so loud that people can’t hear what you’re saying. In other words, leadership is about having personal integrity and practicing what you preach. You would never follow the advice of a fat personal trainer, a broke accountant, or a real estate agent who doesn’t even own a dog house.

You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all. But the thing is that this is easier said than done. I remember when we had a crisis in our team back in 2013. Every single person from the team quit, leaving the president and me alone to fight the battle. My integrity of not quitting didn’t let me walk away and we kept pushing together.

That’s what leadership is about – you need to walk the talk. Because to lead yourself and to lead others, you need to make decisions which follow up your integrity. That leads us to the third point.

3. Leadership is about making the right, painful decisions

If you choose easy decisions, your life will be hard. If you choose hard decisions, your life will be easy. And there are numerous decisions which leaders did in the past which have been hard at the moment. But when you’re a leader, you don’t make decisions on a scale of easy-hard, you make them on a scale of right-wrong.

Firing the VP of sales is always hard. But doing it because he violated the principles of the company makes it right. It’s a trade-off 90% of people are not willing to make and I see it day in, day out. As soon as a decision becomes hard, people start doubting their values, morals, and integrity. They let the fear of uncertainty cloud their judgments and they make an easy call.

They let the VP stay because it’s the easy thing to do and with that, they seal their fate. Leadership is painful and it always was. I remember when I had to let 20 people go or fire two of my VPs. Was it hard? Of course it was. But it was the right thing to do. This doesn’t make the decision any easier, but it makes it bearable.

You know where you need to lead people and even though there is massive uncertainty, you need to be certain that you will figure out any problem that comes in front of you. Which brings us to the last point.

“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy

4. You need to have unyielding faith that you will prevail in the end

You don’t need to know every step of the way, but you need to know how you will react to problems. You need to be sure, absolutely, that you will deal, manage, and handle every single problem that comes your way and that your team and people who you lead are unstoppable on their way to achieving the vision.

This is unquestionable. You have no idea what will attack you, but you are certain that you will handle it. This is how you lead people through everything in life. This is how Shackleton led his expedition for 2 years on the Antarctic and how every single one of his people survived the hardships that attacked them.

Because people turn to the leader in face of trouble and that’s when you show your true face. Do you show your weak side, flounder, and run? Or do you stand strong like a supporting rock on which people can lean on?

When you deal with fire, you will learn how to defeat it without having your people get burned. You will sacrifice yourself and gain scars which don’t serve as a sign of victimhood but as a proof of courage. Are you gonna be courageous or are you gonna run away? There is only one way to find out.

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