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The road to success is rarely ever straight, flat and well-paved. In fact, in most cases, it’s a long, winding, uphill trudge. However, it’s the lessons you learn along that treacherous road that give you the skills and the know-how to triumph in the end.
These are the ten most important truths I discovered on my journey to success, and keeping true to them has served me well along the way.
Truths You Will Learn Before You Find Success
1. You’ll Never Achieve Universal Acceptance
Not everyone will like every decision you make. No matter who you are, there will always be someone who disagrees with you. The real challenge isn’t in trying to win them over, it’s knowing when to cut people loose who aren’t on your team. It’s knowing you will never be liked by everyone. It’s knowing that someone, somewhere will always call you an enemy.
The challenge is knowing all that—and being ok with it.
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is setting a goal to not have any enemies.They become so focused on universal acceptance that they lose sight of their goal. They get connected to the negativity. As a result, doubt and a lack of confidence eventually destroys the foundation of their drive.
Of course you want to forge positive relationships with as many people as you can. However, keep in mind that eventually, you will butt heads with someone.When that happens, be prepared to shake it off.
Everybody loves the Average Joe, but don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo!
2. You Must Be Passionate
Successful entrepreneurs are driven by passion—the passion to succeed, to innovate and to change the world. However, many struggle because they start doing things they are not interested in or things that don’t align with their goals.
Essentially, genuine passion is no longer part of the equation. There are a couple of reasons why this might happen.
- Individuals begin to doubt themselves or worry too much about the potential of failure.
- Instead of being passionate about the business, individuals become passionate about making money and receiving accolades. You need more than money to innovate.
One of my favorite quotes is from Warren Buffet: “Without passion, you don’t have energy. Without energy, you have nothing.”
You must cultivate passion for everything you do and everything you want to achieve. After all, if you don’t care about it, why spend your life doing it?
3. Seize on New Opportunities
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Be an innovator. If you have an idea, go for it! Don’t wait until your competitor tries it to see if it is viable. To be successful, you have to capitalize on opportunities when they present themselves.
For example, back in 2009, I created a new business venture to help online merchants manage chargebacks. At the time, other service providers were only focused on one component of management: preventing chargebacks. It is important for merchants to prevent chargebacks, but that isn’t the only responsibility they have.
There was one key element—challenging illegitimate chargebacks—that was being completely ignored. No one else was willing to dispute cases of chargeback fraud. I decided to tackle the issue head on.
Chargebacks911 became the first service provider to address both sides of the chargeback issue and provide a comprehensive solution. It wasn’t long before our competitors tried to follow suit. If I hadn’t been willing to take the initial risk, we would have been swept away by the competition.
4. Success Doesn’t Come Easy
Success doesn’t come without challenges. No matter the size of your business, the industry in which you work, or the range of services you provide, there will be obstacles along your journey to the top.
You need perseverance, determination, and tenacity. That’s why IT expert Randy Pausch said, “Don’t complain, just work harder.”
While the struggle itself can be disheartening, those who are willing to push through actually find this truth to be encouraging. That’s because their hard work will be rewarded.
When I’m hiring for a new position, I won’t hesitate to take a less-experienced candidate who’s willing to work hard over a more experienced or educated candidate with no drive. People who are simply lazy can gain experience and an education, but they can’t gain a work ethic.
Success isn’t necessarily dependent on natural traits like talent, savviness or even being particularly bright. What matters most is how much you want something, and how much work you’re willing to put in to get it.
5. Teamwork is the Secret Ingredient
Unfortunately, teamwork and collaboration are some of the most overlooked elements of success. People assume that the climb to the top needs to be a solitary journey.
The great thinker Napoleon Hill said: “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” I firmly believe in the idea that creating success for others will ultimately create success for yourself.
After all, a leader isn’t a leader if no one follows. Identify those who are on your team, the ones willing to encourage and support your endeavors. Then, turn around and support them right back.
And remember, don’t burn bridges or harm relationships. You never know when your paths may cross again.
6. You Must First Know Yourself
Life is all about choosing your path and deciding where you want to go, but you can’t know where you want to go if you don’t know yourself.
You have to understand yourself before you can understand others, and you have to learn to manage yourself before you try to manage others.
Become the number one expert on yourself. You need to understand your strengths as well as your weaknesses, your insecurities as well as your sources of pride.
Understand your values and what really matters to you, and look at yourself objectively. No one else will be able to trust you if you don’t trust yourself.
7. You Must Stay True to Yourself
Once you understand who you are at your core, it’s important that you not lose sight of that fundamental understanding. It’s easy to forget your own personal feelings, expertise, first-hand experiences and goals when a million different people advise you otherwise.
When I first started Chargebacks911, I thought we needed to have a very “corporate” feel for our work environment. Regardless of my own personal preferences, I thought that’s the way business was supposed to be done.
I hired an advisor who told me we needed to have a strict dress code, rules to prevent hiring nepotism, and more. Ultimately, we created such a restrictive environment, it stifled creativity. It dawned on me one day: I’m much more of a jeans person than a suit person. Why was I trying to be someone I wasn’t?
Of course, that’s not to say you should never listen to anyone but yourself; it’s very important to seek the opinions of others. However, you must seek wise council from someone who compliments your management style and can help you within your framework for success.
A day might come when you’ll need to choose between what you believe and what others think you should do. Know yourself and know how you’ll handle these situations.
8. You Must Be Willing to Change
We live in a dynamic world in which everything is constantly changing. If you’re not willing to change,you’ve already been left behind.
If you think you can ever simply rest on your laurels and coast through life, you are sorely mistaken. Adapt to your environment or create an environment for your goals and objectives. No matter which option you choose, be prepared to evolve and innovate.
John Wooden said, “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” Every second you spend not evolving is a second you spend not growing.
9. You’re Destined to Fill Many Roles in Life
Many people use the question, “What do you do?” as a conversation starter and ice breaker. Most of us have an answer ready and waiting, something on the tip of our tongue that defines who we are.
In reality, no one fills just one role in life. We are leaders and followers. We are mothers and fathers and sons and daughters. We are husbands and wives. We are philanthropists and motivators. We are artists and analytics.
It is essential to identify each role you fulfil. Then, determine what it takes to be a success in each one. Never assume that you can attend to one responsibility and the others will take care of themselves.
I once made the mistake of forgetting that being a good mother is not the same as being a good wife. Both of these roles are unique and require different elements.
Success demands balance in every aspect of your life. Without good balance, it is only a matter of time before the dynamics start to break down.
10. Nothing is Ever as Good as it Can Be
Zig Ziglar, perhaps one of the greatest salesmen of all time, once said, “The greatest enemy of excellence is good enough.” No matter what your career or aspirations in life, these are powerful words to live by.
Never settle. Never look at a situation and say, “Good enough.” There is always room for improvement.
Confront your obstacles head on. Try one conflict resolution strategy. If it doesn’t work, try another. Look for ways to constantly improve every aspect of your life.
Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. After all, failure is just an illusion. As Thomas Edison put it, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
It’s Time to Define Your Own Success
It’s time for you to make a move. Discover your own truths and realities. As author John Green said, “What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?”
Be willing to fail, be willing to learn, be willing to grow–with consistency, you will achieve success.
Now, go be remarkable.