What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see an empty space? I don’t know about you but when I see an empty space, I see possibilities. I see opportunities to decorate, paint or fill it however I want.
On the other hand, walking into a space that is already pretty full leaves little for my imagination.
Yet, here we are, with our wardrobe bursting at the seams with all the clothes we don’t need, our calendar full of meetings we would rather not go to and our mind, constantly contemplating thoughts we are better off without.
When we fill our space — both mental and physical — with clutter, it barely leaves any room for new and exciting opportunities to come in and therefore keeps success parked in the parking lot.
What I am really trying to say, is that for you to be successful, you need to first make room for success. Writer John Gorman said,
“The hardest part of success isn’t working for it … it’s clearing a spot for it once we’ve done enough to bring home the gold.”
Let me explain.
Physically, we are now living in overcrowded cities with small houses, which we very often fill up with things we don’t need or even cannot afford and in the process, we end up creating spaces which, instead of inspiring us, become an inhibitor.
Mentally, we are living a stressful life, constantly worried about our future and what it holds. Stress has aggravated with the invention of social media because now, on top of the stress, we also have a fear of missing out. We are busy keeping up with the lives of others instead of focusing on and improving our own.
Our fears and anxieties make us act in a manner that we think will quell them but it only leads to more fear and anxiety, creating a vicious circle we find very hard to get out of.
We try to keep ourselves busy in order to fit into the demands of the society and run the rat race a million others are running without realizing that we might be on the wrong race track.
We keep working on what is not working because quitting is equivalent to failing and we would rather not raise our stress and anxiety by now having to hear about the one time we failed or about what others think.
When you add up everything above, it hardly leaves any room to sit back, think and allow success to knock on your door!
It is a lot like trying to stay afloat in an ocean. When you are so focused on not drowning, you will miss the rescue boats that pass by and could have transported you to the shore.
How To Make Room For Success
When your body is aligned with your mind, you become unstoppable. You can achieve extraordinary things! That is when you know success is just around the corner.
But to get there, you need to make room both physically and mentally.
Physically, you need to focus on the space around you. Physical includes anything you can touch, feel, see, interact with and in order to make room there, here is what you need to think about.
Am I surrounded by the right tribe of people?
Most successful people are able to achieve success because they have the right people in their team. They seek and surround themselves with the tribe of people who will enable them in every step and not drag them back down.
This is probably the hardest part because this means you need to build relationships. It means you need to build trust, earn their respect and be willing to be there for them when needed. Not a lot of us are ready for that commitment. Heck, we are so busy in our world that we tend to forget there is a world out there that has some wonderful people ready to help out if you only reach out.
For extraordinary success, you have to surround yourself with extraordinary people.
Benjamin Franklin started the Junto Club back in 1727 just for this purpose. A gathering of intellectuals from all walks of society to discuss politics, morals and natural philosophy.
Rio Ferdinand, who played alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United, had this to say about him:
“He was the first person I saw employing a nutritionist, a doctor, a personal physio, a chef,” Ferdinand said during the pre-show for BBC ahead of Portugal’s match against Spain. They came and lived in his house more or less, he lived a couple of doors up from me. He invested in himself to become the best in the world and he left Manchester United as the best player in the world,”
Now how many of us do that? How many of us invest in a life coach, a nutritionist, a mentor or the other support staff we need to be the best in business?
Am I in the right environment?
Environment matters as much as people do! This is why new startups prefer to start in Silicon Valley rather than Hawaii.
Our surroundings can tell someone a lot about us. How I live, where I live, which school or college I went to can tell a lot about the kind of person I might be. Every one of those things has played a part in forming my identity and giving me the values that I have and also some of the beliefs I may carry.
It doesn’t stop there. Our environment also has a very strong influence on where we are going. How successful we are, what opportunities we are exposed to, who we get to partner and work with are often also a result of the environment we are in.
The point I am trying to make is this: our success isn’t just determined by the five people we spend most of your time with, but also on the environment we are in. In fact, people are just a subset of the same environment which includes where we live, what we eat, the experiences we have and the beliefs we carry. It also determines the opportunities we are exposed to.
Go where the gold is! You have to make sure your environment is an inspiration. It should act as a stimulus to push you forward in your quest for success.
More than physically making room for success, you need to focus on the mental part. It is much harder to silence our thoughts than it is to move to the right environment.
Mentally, you need to work on your mindset.
“A great mind becomes a great fortune.” — Seneca
The human brain is a remarkable organ. It is the most important organ and the reason why we have been able to progress, endure, survive and thrive. It is our biggest asset but sadly, it is also our biggest enemy.
If ever a movie is made based on my life, the villain would be me. I against myself. It sounds a lot like the plot of Fight Club!
So, when it comes to the mental part, think…
Am I focusing on doing the right things?
“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take is just getting us to the wrong place faster.” — Stephen Covey
You may have the potential to be the best writer in the world — better than Hemingway, JK Rowling and Shakespeare combined — but if you don’t focus on getting your work published, you are not focusing on the right thing.
If you want to become a stand-up comedian and all you do is write jokes, I hate to break it to you but you will never become one!
I am finding it very hard to balance my day job and writing. The result shows in my engagement, my earnings and the quality of my writing. I am also willing to put money on the fact that if I quit and focus on my writing for three months, the results will show.
Success is 50% hard work and 50% quitting the non-essentials so you can choose the essentials because the more directions you are pulled in, the slower you move.
Focus on the 1–2 things today which will propel you closer to success. Quit the non-essential stuff to make room for success by making room to focus on the essential activities.
Am I aware of my fears, triggers and pet peeves?
Understand your triggers, fears and pet peeves. In other words, become more self-aware! It will help you overcome some of the same fears which are holding you back. Self-awareness is a superpower.
Recognizing your mental triggers allows you to control your thoughts and in turn lead a happier and more productive life.
Recognizing mental triggers also enable you to break bad habits and replace them with good ones instead.
Recognizing the mental triggers leading to such emotions is one way to set yourself up for success.
Once you are self-aware, the world becomes an easier place to navigate.
It will protect and heal you like you are wolverine. It will give you immense strength to fight back, like the Hulk and it will make you hypersensitive to your surroundings, just like Spider-man!
Moreover, the pursuit of self-awareness also leads you to your blind spots. It uncovers the unknown and makes it known. At least you are aware of it, even if you are not able to act on it.
How am I managing my energy throughout the day?
We only have 3–4 hours in a day where we are primed for peak performance and how we utilize those hours, determine how productive we are on that day. The most successful people in the world manage their energy and not time.
Ask a marathon runner and they will tell you the key to winning a long-distance race is managing your energy. Actors/performers often take naps in between shows. Athletes sleep on flights to be able to have enough energy to give their best.
Are you aware of how the energy in your body regulates throughout the day? What are the activities that drain you versus the ones which fuel you?
How do I hit the peak state regularly?
If you are aware of your triggers and fears plus you know which activities fuel you versus drain you, you should be able to hit peak state more regularly and with ease.
This will help you accomplish a lot in a much shorter period. You will be able to schedule the most critical tasks at a time suiting your energy levels best during the day. You will also be able to delegate tasks which usually drain your energy, allowing you to have more time to dedicate to other priorities.
Successful people are very self-aware and quick to delegate. They try to focus on tasks they are best at and delegate or automate the rest if possible.
Through trial/error and self-awareness, you will learn to recognize patterns when you are in the zone versus when you are not. Pay attention and utilize it to design your routine and days around it.
Am I constantly investing in improving?
“I’ve never invested in the stock market or taken a risk on anything outside myself. I decided a long time ago that I would only bet on myself.”
— Steven Pressfield
Every decade of your life will demand a different you. You can choose to step up or get left behind. What you learn, will always stay with you and if all else fails, it is a big safety net for you to start from.
A journey of a thousand steps begins with one step. Almost every expert you come across today, was once an amateur constantly investing in themselves, which led to them ultimately to becoming an expert.
The best return on investment you can get is on the investment you make on yourself. You are the only one who can guarantee your success at the end of the day.
Yes, you can delegate tasks to others and you can take all the help you get but you cannot guarantee how the people you have delegated to deliver or do the work. You will never be 100% assured they are doing what you asked them to do, the way you wanted them to do.
To Get Something You Have Never Had, You Need to Do Something You Have Never Done
In order to achieve whatever it is you are after, changes have to be made. You will need to make room for all the things you need to do, to take you towards your goal. This could mean that you might have to reorganize your priorities or rethink how you spend your time. It could be that you will need to give up playing football on the weekends or catching a movie every week in the theater to make room for what is in store.
The training you need to do to become a professional baseball player is completely different than what you need to do to become a professional footballer. To switch from a football player to a baseball one, your environment, your training, and your support staff will change.
This is true for anything else in life as well. What you need to do to become a stand-up comedian vs a best selling writer, is completely different but neither will happen if you don’t hang out with the right tribe, in the right environment while focusing on doing the right things.
Make room for success, so that once you have done enough to bring the trophy home, you have the space ready in the trophy cabinet to enjoy and admire it.
“If you want to live an exceptional and extraordinary life, you have to give up many things that are a part of a normal one.” — Srinivas Rao, Unmistakable