Have you ever wondered why one person achieves success when another tried and failed? What’s the difference between someone who makes $100,000 per year and $1,000,000 per year? Is it luck? Is it who you know or what you know? Is it hard work? I know nine different people who have in some way, shape, or form mimicked what we do at The Newsletter Pro. These very same nine people have all closed up shop and given or sold me their customers. Am I just lucky … or just that smart?
Side note: Despite what I say in the rest of this article, it is better for my fragile ego if we just agree that the other people couldn’t figure it out because I’m super smart and they are not as smart. Now that we are in agreement there, I’ll jump back into my story.
The truth is that all of the above factors — including luck — play a role in someone’s success, which I’ll explain in a second. But in my experience, there are some factors that seem to allow people to leapfrog over others in terms of success.
Trait No. 1: What Does Luck Have to Do With It?
Let’s get the big issue out of the way. Like me, I’m sure you’ve had people tell you how lucky you are for the success you have. But as you likely know, hard work is often mistaken for luck. That being said, I do believe luck plays a very small role in all success. For example, if you were lucky enough to be born in America, you have a much greater chance of being successful than if you were born in the slums of India. There is only about a 4 percent chance for you to be born in the United States, so you really are lucky to live here. Typically speaking, though, luck has little to do with your overall success. It may set up opportunity, but you have to bring it home.
Trait No. 2: Brains Before Beauty
Another huge difference I see in those who are uber-successful and those who aren’t is education. No, not formal education, but how much time each day they spend educating themselves on sales, marketing, leadership, people management, etc. I speak with countless entrepreneurs who rarely spend a nickel on personal education. But you have to be constantly learning to succeed.
For example, I have a goal of reading or listening to nine books each quarter. I go through two trainings per quarter, buy consultations from experts in areas I’m trying to grow in, and pick the brains of friends who are experts in their fields. I read tons of articles on business. I also read random articles about people — reading what is trending in pop culture helps me better understand how the masses think.
You have to invest in yourself. I learned a long time ago that I’m not the CEO my company needs 12 months from now. But if we’re going to continue to grow, you’d better believe I’m going to work my butt off to make sure I am ready to be the CEO it needs when next year rolls around.
Trait No. 3: Take Ownership
Successful people need personal responsibility. It amazes me how many people lack this characteristic. There is a lot of power in taking ownership of the outcome of an issue instead of blaming others for a failure. When something goes wrong, first explore where you dropped the ball before pointing fingers at others. A great reminder of this trait comes from the Bible in the book of Matthew 7:4–5: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Regardless of your religious persuasion, this is so true for business. How can you get upset at your employees for being late to meetings when you’re always late? How can you get angry at your marketing company when you didn’t have your deliverables in on time so the program could work?
Trait No. 4: Don’t Blame the Clock!
Time management is another HUGE difference I see between people who are crushing it and those who are not. Every now and again, a client stops me at a show or calls in and tells me the newsletter isn’t working for them. Nearly 100 percent of the time, it is the same issue: They aren’t personalizing the newsletter. I tell them that’s the issue, and it only takes 15 minutes to fix. Then, literally half of the time, they respond by saying, “I don’t have 15 minutes!”
Here and now, I’m calling BS. If you don’t have 15 minutes to give to a project to get what you’re paying for out of it, you either have a close family member who is dying or you have poor time-management skills. I’m a super busy guy, and I can always find 15 minutes once per month. It’s kind of like the excuse of no money; everyone has money for the things they want, even when they’re broke. You don’t see too many broke, out-of-work college grads with student loans up to their eyeballs because of their basket-weaving degree with a minor in ancient Mayan studies cancelling their cellphones because they’re broke.
Trait No. 5: Find a Worthy Guide
I don’t know any successful people who don’t have at least one mentor they work with on a regular basis. You have to have someone who understands the normative model of where you’re trying to go if you don’t want to run into every pothole, cone, car, and tree along your journey. Few things can shortcut growth faster than a good mentor.
Trait No. 6: Never Underestimate the Value of Hard Work
I don’t know too many get-rich-in-your-underwear people, and I know a ton of rich people. You have to get up every day and go get it. You need a plan, and you need to work that plan. If that means working 80, 90, or 100 hours a week for a while, that is what it means. I’m able to outwork most people, and because of that, I will win more often.
The idea of massive action has been popularized in the last 10 years or so. That is simply another way of saying, “Work hard.” Of course, you need to focus on the right work. But even if you do everything in this article except work hard, you’ll end up with little to no results.
In the end, you’ll have to decide which of these qualities are most needed in your life. But with a little luck and lots of hard work, studying, time-management, personal responsibility, and some mentorship, you will crush your goals and make all your dreams come true.