The Simple Mindset Shift That Can Change Your Life for the Better
Let’s talk about the elusive S-word
First, I’ll preface by saying success has no singular definition. Some find it in material gain, others in status or recognition, many in contribution to the community, and nearly all in finding some form of meaning in what they do.
What I’ve come to learn — through my own experience and observing others — is that success almost always comes as a product of who you are as opposed to what you do.
As Jim Rohn put it:
“Success is something you attract by the person you become.”
Or as Albert Einstein said:
“Instead of becoming a man of success, try to become a man of value.”
When you focus on personal development, you develop an air about you.People notice it, they’re attracted to it, and good things come as a result of it.
It’s noticeable because developing yourself displays value and value is the key component in success of any kind.
The question is….how do you become more valuable? How can you learn to attract success?
The Secret Superpower of Successful People
I’m sure you’ve heard this before but I’ll repeat it because it’s true.
The ability to learn is perhaps the most important skill you can acquire. Notice I said the ability to learn. Learning itself is a skill people have in varying degrees. You can read tons of books, take classes, watch videos, etc, and fail to learn as much as you should if you take the wrong approach.
The ability to learn well involves a few key distinctions:
I read an interesting quote in the book Principles by Ray Dalio recently. He said something along the line of…if you don’t consider the possibility you might be close-minded, maybe you’re not as open-minded as you thought.
We all come equipped with preconceived notions about the world. We learned them from our parents, society, and picked them up from our peers along the way.
Many people are successful because they buck conventional wisdom. To dothat, you have to learn how to fight your bias and change your mind when new evidence presents itself. Instead of learning to confirm what you already believe, learn to challenge your beliefs instead. It won’t be comfortable, but it will be worth it.
I have literally dozens of filled notebooks and hundreds of note cards filled with ideas, techniques, and insights I’ve gained from things I’ve read, watched, and learned.
I don’t even necessarily go back and read all the notes I take (I’d say 50%) but the act of documenting my personal development gives my learning a sense of commitment plus it helps me retain more.
I strongly suggest you read more books. From the time I was basically penniless and living in a dorm room at the age of 24 to dramatically increasing my income and looking in the mirror to see a “successful” person at age 28, I’ve probably read more than 150 books.
I read books on personal development, psychology, fiction, evolution, philosophy, spirituality, business, marketing, the list goes on.
When I began, I had no concrete plans for what I was going to with the information I was learning, I just figured I’d need it down the road. The combination of reading so much and documenting it has provided a nuanced form of learning that weaves seamlessly into my life. Obviously,reading helps me write well.
I’ve brought up facts or used an insight from what I’ve learned in conversation. In a moment of struggle, I can recall the sentiments of Marcus Aurelius who says, “Choose not to be harmed and you won’t be harmed.”
If reading isn’t your cup of tea, audio and visual formats work well too, butmake sure to document what you’ve learned to cement it in your mind.
I hated learning in school because I felt there was no use for it. To this day, I’ve never had to measure the angles of an isosceles triangle or use the quadratic formula.
Now, I learn because I want to do something with the information I’ve gained.
In your case, you always want to think about how you can apply what you’ve learned — even from reading my emails.
Often I leave my messages with an instruction, like the one where I told you to find a way to be more useful that week. Let me ask, did you actually do it or did you read the email, think to yourself “that’s nice,” and go about your day?
Most people choose the latter. They’ll read a cool blog post or case study about something they want to pursue — filled with actionable details — and they passively consume the information.
When I learn a new technique, I just do it. I don’t question the information before trying it. Nine times out of ten the techniques work.
Does the online world have its fair share of charlatans? Sure. But there are more reputable sources of information than you think. Stop being so skeptical and follow through. You’ll experience amazing results.
The idea of implementation leads us out of this section and segues to the next character trait of people who attract success.
Just Say Yes
I had the honor of giving a TEDx talk a few years ago.
How did it happen?
I’m a member of a speech club called Toastmasters. Some of the members informed me TEDx was accepting applications for a local event in Rochester where I live. Instead of second guessing myself — which I’m known to do if I wait and think — I filled out the application.
They invited me to a pitch night to compete against 23 other speakers. I made the final cut for the event and ended up speaking in front of 1,000 people.
Joining Toastmasters was something I said yes to. I’d just started a new job and a co-worker was a club member.
We started talking about her experiences and I mentioned the fact I was interested in public speaking (I’d also heard of Toastmasters from a video from a person suggesting joining the club to gain speaking skills…see how that learning weaves in?). She told me to visit the club as a guest. I visited, I joined, and I love it.
When I see a publication I want to write for, I pitch them an idea for an article.Whenever I see an opportunity of any kind, I just say yes to it.
When you reach a certain level of output, you’ll have to learn to say no more. I get a lot of emails now from people requesting all sorts of things and I don’t have time to fulfill all those obligations.
But when you’re starting out in a certain area, you shouldn’t feel above trying anything and you definitely shouldn’t let fear get in the way.
How do you combat fear and say yes to scary but exciting ventures? You have to find a way to commit in between the tiny gap of stimulus and response. The stimulus occurs when you’re aware of the opportunity.
The middle gap is when you start thinking through all the different scenarios, especially the ones you think will go wrong. The response is your choice. The trick I use? I make the choice before I can think about it much. As soon as my colleague emailed a link to apply for TEDx, I clicked it and filled it out. When I’m asked to be a part of an enticing opportunity, I say yes, because I’m then faced with the negative feeling of going back on my word.
Opportunity + Preparation =Success.
You never know when opportunity will arise. Some are luckier than others in life, butwe all get a few chances at opportunities to change our lives. We have to learn so we can be prepared to seize them.
After time, you’ll become an intelligent person ready to spot opportunities. Your value is two-fold. A)Intelligence has value. b) the ability to spot opportunity makes you an asset to both yourself and others.
Let’s tie in one more key element.
Develop Your Air
When I write these messages to you, I want you to feel how I feel about what I’m saying. I’ve been through the gutter and came out the other side a polished person — with flaws of course, but an entirely different perspective on life.
The way to become attractive and valuable in a way others notice is embodying it in everything you do.
It doesn’t matter if you work at a kiosk in the mall. Stand up straight, smile, listen to your customers attentively, and provide the best service possible.
The beliefs you’ve developed on your journey of learning, live them out, don’t just preach and recite the platitudes to others. Don’t just read a book about bouncing back from adversity….bounce back from adversity. When something shitty happens, absorb the blow, and move forward.
The bottom line — people can tell when you’re bullshitting, so don’t. Be yourself, but be the best version of yourself in everything you do.
Success will find you.