What if you discovered that your own words and thoughts were wreaking havoc on your chances for success?
They might be.
What you say about what you do makes a difference.
It makes a difference in your own mind. And it makes a big difference in how people view your work.
At some point, you have to decide if you want to be at the top of your field.
Does that sound like too audacious of a goal?
I’d like to propose that you consider it. That you eliminate “I’ll try” from your vocabulary. That you make it your aim to be the best, to surpass the competition, and to go for the top prize.
I propose that you make it your goal to do great things.
Not to expend great effort.
It’s OK to want to be the best. And as long as you don’t step on anyone else to get there, it’s the optimum goal you can have.
Let’s kick some ass. Ready?
First, adjust your focus
It’s OK to be singularly focused on success.
In the best of times and the worst of times, singular focus is how you make progress. Focus leads to accomplishment.
Back in May 1940, Winston Churchill gave his first speech to the House of Commons. Britain was in the midst of a long, difficult war with Germany.
Although Churchill went on to become a much-praised leader, he was not universally accepted when he stepped into office.
He had given many speeches over his 30-year political career, but this one proved to be his most memorable:
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. ~ Winston Churchill
Churchill rallied the politicians in the room, and the nation listening in. And you know how that story ended.
Saying no to the wrong things is as important as saying yes to the right ones
Part of focusing on success means sorting through all the opportunities that come your way.
When you’re first starting out, the best strategy is to make “yes” your default answer. But this state shouldn’t last for long.
As you log small victories, you may notice an uptick in the opportunities you’re offered.
When this begins to happen, it’s important to filter the possibilities through these three questions:
- Will this opportunity push me closer to my ultimate goal?
- Will I learn a new skill that will help me achieve my goal?
- If I have to say “no” now, will this opportunity come around again?
One of my favorite quotes from Nobel-Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez is, “Lo más importante que aprendí a hacer después de los cuarenta años fue a decir no cuando es no,” or:
The most important thing I learned after forty was to say no when the answer was no. ~ Gabriel García Márquez
If you’re under 40 years old, why wait? Learn to say “no” now so you can maintain focus on what’s most important.
And if you’re over 40 now, what are you waiting for? Learning to say “no” confidently might be just what you need to push you down the path toward success.
A special note to women
I’m not sure why, but it seems even more difficult for us to aim high.
We have to deal with long-standing stereotypes about women in power. In my lifetime, I’ve seen these stereotypes begin to disappear, but — ask any woman — they’re not gone yet.
When you feel discomfort about aiming high and fear the repercussions, refer to these wise words from Amy Poehler:
I just love bossy women. I could be around them all day. To me, bossy is not a pejorative term at all. It means somebody’s passionate and engaged and ambitious and doesn’t mind leading. ~ Amy Poehler
As women, we have to take bold steps toward what we’re aiming for, and be willing to brush off comments from the naysayers.
Behave like you’re already there
Years ago, I heard an excellent question from Marie Forleo.
If you were the best in the world at what you do, how would you behave? ~ Marie Forleo
Imagine the world is depending on you to deliver the information only you know:
- Would you make time to do your best work by meticulously saying “no” to tasks that won’t further your cause, and keeping your time open for those that will?
- Would you spend less time doing low-payoff tasks so you could reserve time to do your life-changing work?
- Would you find it easier to turn off distractions and truly focus on the tasks at hand?
If you behave as if you’re already the top-most expert in your area of authority, you’ll be well on your way to becoming that person.
What does victory look like for you?
Finally, before you embark on your ass-kicking process, decide what victory will look like.
I have had amazing results from taking the time to actually write down my goals. There’s something about converting your thoughts into words, and referring back to them periodically, that works like magic.
My unscientific theory is that writing down your goals embeds them in your subconscious mind.
That means they’re easily available to:
- Help you sort through your opportunities
- Encourage you to keep working
- Push you to continue even when you’re ready to give up
If you’re ready to kick ass, take the time to answer this question, in writing:
What does success look like to you?
Decide for yourself:
- Is it a number, like earnings, or audience size?
- Is it a lifestyle you want to achieve? One with freedom, simplicity, or travel?
- Is it a state of mind, like complete confidence, happiness, or peace?
Have a clear vision of your aim. Put it in writing, and find a way to look at your goal on a regular basis. This might mean printing it on paper and putting it on your refrigerator, or making it the desktop background on your computer.
Regular exposure to your written goal will help make it happen.
Don’t wait: get started
There’s no time like right now to begin kicking ass.
Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.
~ Napoleon Hill
Now go, and aim high.
Let’s meet on Google+ and continue discussing what success looks like to you!