The Secret to Success in 5 Easy Steps

The Secret to Success in 5 Easy Steps

Obviously success is different for each of us and that’s one of the layers of life that makes it so fascinating.

What is it for you? Is money, wealth, freedom, a job you love, a big family, traveling the world? What do you consider to be the definition of success for yourself? Of course you answer will most likely vary from other people’s and that’s ok. There is no real right or wrong here.

However, if you are talking about your career or your business, keep these five points in mind and adopt them as your own. Or take them and tweak them to fit your particular situation.

Here are the 5 secrets to success…

Find Something that Stirs Your Soul

From the time I was little marketing fascinated me. I remember taking advantage of every free offer I could find. Free reports or other information. Info kits and free samples. I loved all of it. As I got older I went back and forth on what I wanted to do for a career, probably no different than any kid. I thought about being a high school football coach. I wanted to be in the DEA until I heard somewhere that they had an average life expectancy of 5 years. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that career path dropped from my list anyway.

I’ve owned all kinds of businesses in my life. A gym, a promotions company, a mobile oil and lube van (even though I had never changed oil in my life), a call center. I tried every get-rich-quick scheme out there. But it seems like I always came back to marketing. No matter how far I would stray, the allure of getting people to buy from me through various media was always very appealing.

Marketing is what stirs my soul. For some people they would rather have their toenails ripped out with a pair of rusty pliers. That’s ok. What stirs their soul or yours, may be different than what gets me going.

To be clear on what this actually means, I don’t think we can confuse having your soul stirred with passion. Passion to me is a little more surface level. Having your soul moved is deeper. It’s to your core. Passion is a little bit like willpower. You need it to power through challenging times, but it isn’t always sustainable. There has to be a bigger reason for why you are doing what you are doing. You have to enjoy it the same way the marathon runner enjoys getting up at 4am to run in the rain to get ready for a race. Willpower may get her butt out of bed, but it’s what’s in her core that keeps her going day in and day out.

You have to believe you are making a difference. Not just in your life, but in the lives of those you serve. This deep-seated belief is what is going to give you the fire and the passion to sell what you are selling because you know in your heart of hearts that it will make your customers’ life better and more fulfilling.

Become Excellent at It

One day I was getting ready to leave for work and I had this huge stack of books under my arm. Books on marketing and copywriting and Facebook advertising, whatever. My daughter Scarlett, who was probably 9 or 10 at the time asked about all the books and I told her that I was reading them to keep learning about my business.

She says, “Ugh, I thought you could quit doing that when you got out of school.”

Nope. If you really want to bring a measure of success to your life you have to become a master of your craft. This certainly can come about through reading, learning, taking courses, attending events, and all of that, but true mastery is really only going to come from doing.

George Leonard in his book Mastery refers to this as practice. He argues that you can practice anything in life, not just skills you want to acquire. Sitting down with your family for dinner every night or showing up to meetings on time are both forms of practice.

There is an ongoing, life-long dedication to your craft to achieve mastery. George was an aikido instructor, which is a form of martial art. He once said that if a student ever asked him how long it would take him to become a master in aikido that the only appropriate response would be, “How long do you expect to live?”

George argues that mastery isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. It’s something that we have to yoke upon our shoulders and carry with us for the rest of our life. The fact of the matter is, getting good at anything is hard. It’s the hard that makes it worth it. It’s also what gives it its value. If you think about a doctor who has been performing heart surgeries for 30 years and compare her to a person who has mopped floors for the same 30 years, there is a reason why the heart surgeon is more valued from a monetary standpoint.

That doesn’t mean that the floor mopper doesn’t have intrinsic value as a human being, he does. It’s just that we as a society have placed a higher economic value on things that are more difficult to achieve.

Your key then, is to become a master of your craft, whatever that may be. There is something magical about doing a job well and taking pride in that job. Going back to the floor mopper, if he really cares deeply about his work and strives to be the very best that he can be, he will be a king among all the floor moppers. Regardless of the level we are at in society, that same society rewards the upper echelons of those ranks accordingly.

Work - or practice - every single day at your craft. Make mistakes, screw up, dust yourself off and try again. And keep trying every single day and watch the magic of it unfold in your own life.

Recondition Your Mind to Believe You Can Have It (And Deserve It)

Most people believe that getting something out of life requires taking something from someone else. They see it as a zero-sum game. This mindset has been instilled into us since we were kids. We were told that we could only have our “fair share”.  This implied that whatever it is we were taking a share of was finite in nature, limited.

When it comes to success, however, we have to shift our mindset to one of abundance. Of plenty. Take money for example. You probably heard or even say the phrase, “Money doesn’t grow on trees” or some other similar phrase. The implication is that there is a limited amount of wealth in the world. If you think this way then you will have a hard time gaining wealth because you are going to feel guilty about taking it from someone else.

However, in your micro little world, it is full of limitless quantities of money, of wealth, of abundance. Particularly here in the United States. In other words, there may be a global finiteness to wealth, but in our individual worlds, there is no such thing. It’s just too big for us to even make a tiny dent in it.

Just by virtue of having been born in the United States, we have won the lottery only afforded a relatively small percentage. In that context, we are the 1% of the 1% across the globe. No matter where you are currently in socio-economic status in the US, when viewed through a global lens you have won the lottery, my friend. This means that abundance is yours for the taking. There is no excuse for you.

By the same token, you have to tamp down any feelings that you don't deserve what you have or what you obtain. As long as you are doing it ethically, morally, and legally, your gain doesn’t have to be someone else’s loss. In fact, you can both win and should both win.

This resistance will manifest itself in a lot of different ways. Two of the most common ways are in how much you charge for your products or services and in your level of expertise. Let me explain both of these. First, price.

You are almost certainly undercharging for your products or services right now. This is especially true for small businesses. You feel like you can’t charge as much as the bigger more established companies and you may be right, but you can almost certainly charge more than what you are charging and my guess is that even if you were to bump your prices by say, 30 to 50 percent you would still be charging a reasonable price. If the reason you aren’t charging more has anything to do with a notion of “fairness” or that you would feel like you were taking advantage of people if you charged more then it is based your own insecurities…not reality.

I would challenge you to try raising your prices by at least 10% and seeing what happens. I can assure you that you will most likely not see a decrease in conversions at all. I remember as a young creative agency we were offering web design at what we called “5 for 5”…5 page sites for $500. It didn’t take me long to realize that I would bankrupt the company if I continued down that path. Over the years we have incrementally raised our prices and have never felt any price resistance of any magnitude. Occasionally we will get someone say we are too expensive, but it is rare and it is because they are looking for some cheap option anyway. The fact that they feel we are too expensive says much more about them than it does us.

The second way you will feel like you don’t deserve success is through what is called “imposter syndrome”. This is a feeling that you aren’t good enough. That you aren’t skilled enough. That you aren’t experienced enough.

These are also mostly grounded in your own insecurities and don’t reflect reality either. I can empathize with you if you are going through this because I suffer with bouts of it myself.

I remember a few years ago I won an “Accomplished 40 Under 40” award here in Idaho. I remember very clearly standing on the stage as they read off all these things I had accomplished…successful entrepreneur, 2-time book author, contributor to several non-profits, founder of the Passport to Boise program for kids, active in the community and so on and I had this overwhelming feeling of being a complete fraud.

Of course all of this was just in my head because I have actually accomplished quite a bit, but it didn’t keep me from feeling inadequate. I suspect you deal with this too. There isn’t a whole lot you can do about it expect circle back to number 2 and continue becoming a master of your craft. I believe those feelings of inadequacy will dissolve over time, but as long as they persist you will find yourself sabotaging your success at every turn.

It is critical that you get your mind right or none of the rest of this will matter.

Figure Out a Way to Make Money at It

Now that you have found something that stirs your soul, you are mastering your craft, and have your head on straight, you need to figure out a way to make money at it. If you aren’t making money at it you have a hobby, not a business.

There’s nothing wrong with that I guess, but I’m betting if you are doing something that you are really good at and love you’d like to make some dough at it too.

Sometimes you have to think a little bit outside the box on this. There are lots of people who are deeply engaged with gaming and really good at it too that have had unparalleled opportunities for monetizing that passion and skill through the internet, YouTube specifically.

I read through a Facebook post not too long ago about this guy that dumped his super model girlfriend because she was distracting him from his gaming career. The most interesting part of it all were the comments from everyone. They mocked him and crapped all over him for dumping a woman over playing video games. They called him a loser and a snowflake. I have a hunch that if an NFL football player or a medical student had done the same thing the backlash wouldn’t have been near as severe.

But that’s idiotic. Just because something doesn’t fit neatly into our little box of what is normal or a “regular job” doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to someone, somewhere. I have long ceased turning my nose up at people who engage in activities that I would find trivial or boring. As a marketer, it is in my best interest to not make judgements but just go with it and figure out how to sell them something that makes that activity easier, better, more enjoyable, whatever.

So, take that thing you are in love with, master it, and figure out a way to build an empire around it.

Take Daily Action Towards It

I want to let you in on a little secret that if you will take it to heart will create more success for you than any other thing on this list. Do you want to hear it? 

Here it is:

“The time is never right to take action.” 

That’s right. There is never a good time for anything. 

“Oh we’re going to have a kid when the time is right.” 

“I’m going to start my business when the timing is better.” 

“I’ll go back to school when things settle down a bit.”

These are all just ways that Life - or what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance - conspires to keep you from doing your work. To keep you from taking action. 

When I owned a gym the most common reason people wouldn’t sign up was because they wanted to lose a little weight first. I can tell you from firsthand experience that the best way to lose weight pretty fast is to start training. This was just what they told themselves to keep from having to act on something that was going to be hard and difficult, even if it was important.

There are two important things to say about taking daily action towards your soul stirring endeavor. First, you don’t have to be motivated first to take action. This is a common myth that action follows motivation and that you can’t act unless you are sufficiently motivated.

To paraphrase the motivational speaker Jim Rohn, he once said, “Motivation isn’t necessarily all that important or useful. Like, if you have an idiot and you motivate him well now all you’ve got is a motivated idiot.”

Paradoxically, motivation generally follows action. Think about that for just a second. If you aren’t feeling particularly motivated to hit the gym but you force yourself to go, you usually feel better about yourself afterward and that action actually builds motivation. So you create a loop. Action breeds motivation which breeds more action which breeds more motivation and so on.

The key is to get started with anything…any sort of action. Which leads us to point number 2…

Even small actions are desirable over no action. Little things, when compounded upon one another and strung together consistently create massive change. Take my podcast for example. I have wanted to start a podcast for at least 4 years now. I always put it off because I wasn’t ready, I didn’t know what to talk about, I didn’t have the right equipment.

I finally got fed up with all the excuses, made a list of topics, started recording them on my phone and launched the sucker. In fact, the first 10 episodes were all recorded on my iPhone. I didn’t care. I had launched them and put them out into the world. That was the only thing that mattered to me. Whether they were good or not was immaterial. I knew that if I could just get started then momentum would pick up and I would be on my way. And here I am. (If you’d like to listen to that podcast, subscribe at ThePragmaticIdealists.com)

To quickly recap the 5 secrets to success, they are…

Find Something that Stirs Your Soul

Become Excellent at It

Recondition Your Mind to Believe You Can Have It (And Deserve It)

Figure Out a Way to Make Money at It

Take Daily Action Towards It

Put them to work in your life and have the success you dream about. 

Now go. Do.

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