15 Secrets to Achieving Success in Life

There are two reasons why this definition is better. First, there’s no point to being rich if you’re not enjoying yourself. Second, you’re more likely to get rich if you’re happy doing whatever you’re doing.

15 Secrets to Achieving Success in Life

Being unhappy, of course, can definitely spur people to action. However, the action should be pointed at trying to become happier–not trying to become richer, in the rather naive belief that being rich, in and of itself, will make you happy.

Needless to say, if you’re struggling to put food in your mouth and keep a roof over your head, none of this applies. When you’re just trying to survive, you’re not thinking about happiness.

Even so, I’d rather be poor and happy than rich and miserable.

Real Way to Get Rich

Of course, all things considered, I’d prefer to be rich and happy rather than poor and happy. However, I believe that it’s easier to get rich if you start from a place of being happy–with what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

For example, I spent six years as a marketing executive, making big money with lots of perks. (And when I say perks, I mean perks like two weeks in Munich and Paris doing “market research.”)

However, while I was successful by most people’s standards, I wasn’t particularly happy–because there was always a voice inside me saying that I was born to be a writer, not a marketing parasite.

When I made the leap to writing full time, my income dropped to almost nothing. Even so, I was far happier doing what I knew I was supposed to be doing rather than pursuing a career that to many people would define “success.”

But here’s the thing. I now make more money than I made back then (even adjusted for inflation), and I work about half the hours. I’m 100% convinced that this is because I defined success as being happy rather than being rich.

I’ve noticed this pattern with almost every really successful person I’ve met. I can’t think of a single person who’s pursued a career purely because it’s lucrative and who’s happy as a result. They may be rich, but they’re losers.

1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone. I believe that not much happens of any significance when we’re in our comfort zone. I hear people say, “But I’m concerned about security.” My response to that is simple: “Security is for cadavers.”

2. Never give up. Almost nothing works the first time it’s attempted. Just because what you’re doing does not seem to be working, doesn’t mean it won’t work. It just means that it might not work the way you’re doing it. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you wouldn’t have an opportunity.

3. When you’re ready to quit, you’re closer than you think. There’s an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: “The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.”

4. With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be. Very seldom will the worst consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of “undefined consequences.” My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling and losing my shirt trying to get Parsons Technology going, “Well, Robert, if it doesn’t work, they can’t eat you.”

5. Focus on what you want to have happen. Remember that old saying, “As you think, so shall you be.”

6. Take things a day at a time. No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don’t look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get through anything one day at a time.

7. Always be moving forward. Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. The moment you stop improving your organization, it starts to die. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.

8. Be quick to decide. Remember what the Union Civil War general, Tecumseh Sherman said: “A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”

9. Measure everything of significance. I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.

10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate. If you want to uncover problems you don’t know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven’t examined for a while. I guarantee you problems will be there.

11. Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you’re doing. When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks perfect at a distance. Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough into space, looks like a peaceful place.

12. Never let anybody push you around. In our society, with our laws and even playing field, you have just as much right to what you’re doing as anyone else, provided that what you’re doing is legal.

13. Never expect life to be fair. Life isn’t fair. You make your own breaks. You’ll be doing good if the only meaning fair has to you, is something that you pay when you get on a bus (i.e., fare).

14. Solve your own problems. You’ll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you’ll develop a competitive edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: “You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others.” There’s also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently. It goes like this: “A wise man keeps his own counsel.”

15. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Lighten up. Often, at least half of what we accomplish is due to luck. None of us are in control as much as we like to think we are.

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