8 Things Remarkably Successful People Do

8 Things Remarkably Successful People Do

The most successful people in business work differently. See what they do–and why it works.

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I’m fortunate to know a number of remarkably successful people. I’ve described how these people share a set of specific perspectives and beliefs.

They also share a number of habits:

1. They don’t create back-up plans.

Back-up plans can help you sleep easier at night. Back-up plans can also create an easy out when times get tough.

You’ll work a lot harder and a lot longer if your primary plan simply has to work because there is no other option. Total commitment–without a safety net–will spur you to work harder than you ever imagined possible.

If somehow the worst does happen (and the “worst” is never as bad as you think) trust that you will find a way to rebound. As long as you keep working hard and keep learning from your mistakes, you always will.

2. They do the work…

You can be good with a little effort. You can be really good with a little more effort.

But you can’t be great–at anything–unless you put in an incredible amount of focused effort.

Scratch the surface of any person with rare skills and you’ll find a person who has put thousands of hours of effort into developing those skills.

There are no shortcuts. There are no overnight successes. Everyone has heard about the 10,000 hours principle but no one follows it… except remarkably successful people.

So start doing the work now. Time is wasting.

3.  …and they work a lot more.

Forget the Sheryl Sandberg “I leave every day at 5:30” stories. I’m sure she does. But she’s not you.

Every extremely successful entrepreneur I know (personally) works more hours than the average person–a lot more. They have long lists of things they want to get done. So they have to put in lots of time.

Better yet, they want to put in lots of time.

If you don’t embrace a workload others would consider crazy then your goal doesn’t mean that much to you–or it’s not particularly difficult to achieve. Either way you won’t be remarkably successful.

4. They avoid the crowds.

Conventional wisdom yields conventional results. Joining the crowd–no matter how trendy the crowd or “hot” the opportunity–is a recipe for mediocrity.

Remarkably successful people habitually do what other people won’t do. They go where others won’t go because there’s a lot less competition and a much greater chance for success.

5. They start at the end…

Average success is often based on setting average goals.

Decide what you really want: to be the best, the fastest, the cheapest, the biggest, whatever. Aim for the ultimate. Decide where you want to end up. That is your goal.

Then you can work backwards and lay out every step along the way.

Never start small where goals are concerned. You’ll make better decisions–and find it much easier to work a lot harder–when your ultimate goal is ultimate success.

6. … and they don’t stop there.

Achieving a goal–no matter how huge–isn’t the finish line for highly successful people. Achieving one huge goal just creates a launching pad for achieving another huge goal.

Maybe you want to create a $100 million business; once you do you can leverage your contacts and influence to create a charitable foundation for a cause you believe in. Then your business and humanitarian success can create a platform for speaking, writing, and thought leadership. Then…

The process of becoming remarkably successful in one field will give you the skills and network to be remarkably successful in many other fields.

Remarkably successful people don’t try to win just one race. They expect and plan to win a number of subsequent races.

7. They sell.

I once asked a number of business owners and CEOs to name the one skill they felt contributed the most to their success. Each said the ability to sell.

Keep in mind selling isn’t manipulating, pressuring, or cajoling. Selling is explaining the logic and benefits of a decision or position. Selling is convincing other people to work with you. Selling is overcoming objections and roadblocks.

Selling is the foundation of business and personal success: knowing how to negotiate, to deal with “no,” to maintain confidence and self-esteem in the face of rejection, to communicate effectively with a wide range of people, to build long-term relationships…

When you truly believe in your idea, or your company, or yourself then you don’t need to have a huge ego or a huge personality. You don’t need to “sell.”

You just need to communicate.

8. They are never too proud.

To admit they made a mistake. To say they are sorry. To have big dreams. To admit they owe their success to others. To poke fun at themselves. To ask for help.

To fail.

And to try again.
Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden

The most successful people in business approach their work differently than most. See how they think–and why it works.man holding a picture of a blooming treeGettyI’m fortunate enough to know a number of remarkably successful people. Regardless of industry or profession, they all share the same perspectives and beliefs.

And they act on those beliefs:

1. Time doesn’t fill me. I fill time.

Deadlines and time frames establish parameters, but typically not in a good way. The average person who is given two weeks to complete a task will instinctively adjust his effort so it actually takes two weeks.

Forget deadlines, at least as a way to manage your activity. Tasks should only take as long as they need to take. Do everything as quickly and effectively as you can. Then use your “free” time to get other things done just as quickly and effectively.

Average people allow time to impose its will on them; remarkable people impose their will on their time.

2. The people around me are the people I chose.

Some of your employees drive you nuts. Some of your customers are obnoxious. Some of your friends are selfish, all-about-me jerks.

You chose them. If the people around you make you unhappy it’s not their fault. It’s your fault. They’re in your professional or personal life because you drew them to you–and you let them remain.

Think about the type of people you want to work with. Think about the types of customers you would enjoy serving. Think about the friends you want to have.

Then change what you do so you can start attracting those people. Hardworking people want to work with hardworking people. Kind people like to associate with kind people. Remarkable employees want to work for remarkable bosses.

Successful people are naturally drawn to successful people.

3. I have never paid my dues.

Dues aren’t paid, past tense. Dues get paid, each and every day. The only real measure of your value is the tangible contribution you make on a daily basis.

No matter what you’ve done or accomplished in the past, you’re never too good to roll up your sleeves, get dirty, and do the grunt work.  No job is ever too menial, no task ever too unskilled or boring.

Remarkably successful people never feel entitled–except to the fruits of their labor.

4. Experience is irrelevant. Accomplishments are everything.

You have “10 years in the Web design business.” Whoopee. I don’t care how long you’ve been doing what you do. Years of service indicate nothing; you could be the worst 10-year programmer in the world.

I care about what you’ve done: how many sites you’ve created, how many back-end systems you’ve installed, how many customer-specific applications you’ve developed (and what kind)… all that matters is what you’ve done.

Successful people don’t need to describe themselves using hyperbolic adjectives like passionate, innovative, driven, etc. They can just describe, hopefully in a humble way, what they’ve done.

5. Failure is something I accomplish; it doesn’t just happen to me.

Ask people why they have been successful. Their answers will be filled with personal pronouns: I, me, and the sometimes too occasional we.

Ask them why they failed. Most will revert to childhood and instinctively distance themselves, like the kid who says, “My toy got broken…” instead of, “I broke my toy.”

They’ll say the economy tanked. They’ll say the market wasn’t ready. They’ll say their suppliers couldn’t keep up.

They’ll say it was someone or something else.

And by distancing themselves, they don’t learn from their failures.

Occasionally something completely outside your control will cause you to fail. Most of the time, though, it’s you. And that’s okay. Every successful person has failed. Numerous times. Most of them have failed a lot more often than you. That’s why they’re successful now.

Embrace every failure: Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time, things will turn out differently.

6. Volunteers always win.

Whenever you raise your hand you wind up being asked to do more.

That’s great. Doing more is an opportunity: to learn, to impress, to gain skills, to build new relationships–to do something more than you would otherwise been able to do.

Success is based on action. The more you volunteer, the more you get to act. Successful people step forward to create opportunities.

Remarkably successful people sprint forward.

7. As long as I’m paid well, it’s all good.

Specialization is good. Focus is good. Finding a niche is good.

Generating revenue is great.

Anything a customer will pay you a reasonable price to do–as long as it isn’t unethical, immoral, or illegal–is something you should do. Your customers want you to deliver outside your normal territory? If they’ll pay you for it, fine. They want you to add services you don’t normally include? If they’ll pay you for it, fine. The customer wants you to perform some relatively manual labor and you’re a high-tech shop? Shut up, roll ’em up, do the work, and get paid.

Only do what you want to do and you might build an okay business. Be willing to do what customers want you to do and you can build a successful business.

Be willing to do even more and you can build a remarkable business.

And speaking of customers…

8. People who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do.

Get over your cocky, pretentious, I-must-be-free-to-express-my-individuality self. Be that way on your own time.

The people who pay you, whether customers or employers, earn the right to dictate what you do and how you do it–sometimes down to the last detail.

Instead of complaining, work to align what you like to do with what the people who pay you want you to do.

Then you turn issues like control and micro-management into non-issues.

9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.

Everyone says they go the extra mile. Almost no one actually does. Most people who go there think, “Wait… no one else is here… why am I doing this?” and leave, never to return.

That’s why the extra mile is such a lonely place.

That’s also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities.

Be early. Stay late. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email. Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment. Don’t wait to be asked; offer. Don’t just tell employees what to do–show them what to do and work beside them.

Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do–especially if other people aren’t doing that one thing. Sure, it’s hard.

But that’s what will make you different.

And over time, that’s what will make you incredibly successful.
Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business. @jeff_haden

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