Accomplishments are based on actions, not on thoughts–yet the thought is always father to the deed. Achievement starts with an idea, a perspective, a point of view, or even just an attitude. (Ideas, perspectives, and points of view like these, for starters.)
Here are some of the things extraordinarily successful people say every day–and how those statements spur them to take actions that lead to even greater success:
1. “I can’t do everything today, but I can take one small step.”
You have plans. You have goals. You have ideas. Who cares? You have nothing until you actually do something. Every day, we let hesitation and uncertainty stop us from acting on our ideas. Pick one plan, one goal, or one idea. And get started. Take one small step. The first step is by far the hardest. Successive steps are always easier.
2. “I will do what no one else is willing to do.”
Often the easiest way to be different is to do the things other people refuse to do. So pick one thing other people won’t do. It can be simple. It can be small. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, do it. You’ll instantly be a little different from the rest of the pack. Then keep going. Every day, think of one thing to do that no one else is willing to do. After a week, you’ll be uncommon. After a month, you’ll be special. After a year, you’ll be incredible, and you definitely won’t be like anyone else.
3. “I will face a fear.”
The most paralyzing fear is fear of the unknown (at least, it is for me).Yet nothing ever turns out to be as hard or as scary as we think. Plus, it’s incredibly exciting to overcome a fear. You get that “I can’t believe I just did that!” rush, a thrill you may not have experienced for a long time. Every day, do one thing a little scary, whether physically or emotionally. Trust that you will figure out how to overcome any problems that arise. Because you will.
4. “I will appreciate someone unappreciated.”
Some jobs require more effort than skill. Delivering packages, bagging groceries, checking out customers — the tasks themselves are relatively easy. The difference is in the effort.So do more than say a reflexive “thanks” to someone who does a thankless job. Smile. Make eye contact. Exchange a kind word.All around you are people who work hard with little or no recognition. Vow to be the person who recognizes at least one of them every day.Not only will you give respect, you’ll earn the best kind of respect — the respect that comes from making a difference, however fleeting, in another person’s life.
5. “I will listen 10 times more than I speak.”
I used to talk a lot. I thought I was insightful and clever and witty and, well, I thought I was a real hoot. Occasionally, very occasionally, I might even have been one of those things. Most of the time I was not. Genuinely confident people, I still sometimes realize I’m not talking because the other person is interested in what I have to say but because I’m interested in what I have to say. (Ick.) Never speak just to please yourself. When you do, you please no one.
6. “I will not care what other people think.”
Most of the time, we should worry about what other people think–but not if it stands in the way of living the lives we really want to live. If you really want to start a business — mind you — but you’re worried that people might say you’re crazy, do it anyway. Pick one thing you haven’t tried because you’re concerned about what other people would think or say and just go do it. It’s your life. Live it your way.
6. “I will answer the question that wasn’t asked.”
Sometimes people are hesitant. Sometimes they’re insecure. Sometimes they’re shy. Whatever the reason, sometimes people will ask a different question than the one they really want you to answer. One employee might ask whether you think he should take a few college courses. What he really wants to know is whether you see him as able to grow in your organization; he hopes you’ll say you do and he hopes you’ll share the reasons why. Your husband might ask if you thought the woman at the party was flirting with him. What he really wants to know is if you still think he’s flirt-worthy and attractive; he hopes you’ll say you do, and he’ll love when you share the reasons why. Behind many questions is an unasked question. Pay attention so you can answer that question too — because that is the answer the other person doesn’t just want but needs.
7. “I will be OK with less than perfect.”
Yes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Yes, perfection is the only acceptable outcome. Unfortunately, no product or service is ever perfect, and no project or initiative is perfectly planned. In fact, the quest for perfection can often be your worst enemy. Work hard, do great work, do your best, and let it go. Your customers and colleagues will tell you what needs to be improved, and that means you’ll get to make improvements that actually matter to people. You can’t accomplish anything until you let go. Do your best, let go, and then trust that you’ll work hard to overcome any shortcomings.
8. “I will try to do better.”
We’ve all screwed up. We all have things we could have done better. Words. Actions. Omissions. Failing to step up, step in, or be supportive. Successful people don’t expect to be perfect, but they do think they can always be better. So think back on yesterday. Think about what went well. Then think about what didn’t go as well as it could have and take ownership. Take responsibility. And promise yourself that today you will do a lot better.
9. “The one thing I can always do is outwork them.”
Like Jimmy Spithill, skipper of America’s Cup-winning Oracle Team USA, said, “Rarely have I seen a situation where doing less than the other guy is a good strategy.” You may not be as experienced, as well funded, as well connected, as talented, but you can always outthink, out hustle, and outwork everyone else. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland–everyone talks about the extra mile, but few people go there. Even when everything else seems stacked against you, effort and persistence can still be your competitive advantages–and they may be the only advantages you truly need.
10. “I will stop and smell my roses.”
You have big plans and big goals. And you’re never satisfied, because satisfaction breeds complacency. Unfortunately, most of the time that means you’re unhappy, because you think more about what you have not achieved, have not done, and do not have. (Of course, the key is to instead do things that make you happy more often.) Take a moment and think about what you do have, both professionally and especially personally. At this moment, you have more than you once could ever dream possible. Sure, always strive for more, but always take a moment to realize that all the things you have, especially your relationships, are more important than anything you hope to have. Unlike a want, what you have isn’t a hope, a wish, or a dream. What you already have is real.
And it’s awesome. And it’s yours.