Why do some business people succeed while others give up in frustration? Is it purely about luck, or do these high-achievers benefit from some type of special wisdom? In other words, are these people successful because of who they are or because of what they know?
If it is true that the winners in business are just a special breed, it may not make much sense for those without the necessary qualities to try to compete. It would be an exercise in frustration, because the average person isn’t going to have what it takes to succeed. Luckily, though the idea of a business world controlled by supermen and superwomen has an odd sort of appeal, it is obviously not the reality of the situation.
Here’s the thing – the greatest business minds aren’t always the best at what they do. The thing that sets them apart is their approach to life. They do things differently than the average person, and this is what makes them special. It’s not so much that they have been born to be great – it’s more that these people benefit from wisdom that gives them an edge in life. Perhaps this wisdom comes easier to some than others, but anyone can learn to think and act the same way.
Wisdom by itself is not enough to ensure success – it needs to be applied. The top entrepreneurs haven’t been initiated into some cult where they are given access to magical secrets. Most of the stuff they know can be found in any of the self-improvement literature or in business magazines. So it isn’t what they know but what they do with what they know. This is why it is not only important to learn how these high-achievers think but to also start applying this wisdom.
Here are some game-changing pieces of wisdom that may have given these winners the edge.
Listen To Your Intuition
“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
–Steve Jobs (Co-founder and Former CEO, Apple)
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet were considered crazy, reckless, or naive at some point in their career. These guys managed to create something new and exciting because they had a strong vision and refused to listen to the naysayers. It takes guts to go with intuition while ignoring the arguments of trusted advisers, but if entrepreneurs weren’t willing to do this, the world would be a different, less innovative, place.
One mistake that entrepreneurs can make is to mistake their ego for their intuition. This happens because of the desire to always be right – it can mean ignoring any evidence that is contrary to this position. This type of pampering of the ego can easily lead to bad decisions. Intuition differs from the need to be right in that it is not a defensive act – it is an ‘inner knowing’ that may even contradict cherished beliefs.
Don’t Lose Sight Of Your Vision
“Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you.”
-Tony Hsieh (CEO, Zappos)
The vision that people have when they begin a business is what motivates them to succeed – it gives them the passion to do whatever it takes to make their dream a reality. As an entrepreneur becomes caught up in the responsibilities of running a company, it is easy to lose sight of this source for their passion. This is a mistake because it can lead to a loss of purpose. Making money is important, but this is going to be easier to achieve when entrepreneurs stay focused and committed to a vision.
Don’t Wait For The Conditions To Be Perfect Before Launching Your Product Or Service
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
–Reid Hoffman (Co-Founder, LinkedIn)
Steve Jobs could afford to be a perfectionist once he became established, but it is important to remember that Apple 1 was just a homemade circuit board – it looked a bit amateurish. It is usually better to improve a product or service while it is already up and running. Customers usually expect there to be bugs initially, but they are willing to put up with this for the opportunity to get their hands on something earlier. Having something on-sale also makes it much easier to spot problems and customer feedback can produce some innovative solutions.
Understand That Self-Belief Is More Important Than Self-Improvement
“In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.”
-Michael Korda (Former Editor-in-chief, Simon & Schuster)
One thing that most successful entrepreneurs share is strong belief in their ability to achieve a goal. There are thousands of self-improvement manuals that promise to deliver the secrets of success. These books usually contain plenty of useful advice, but the premise is that the reader isn’t yet good enough to do well in business. There are people that devour this type of material, but they never make progress in the real world because they have no self-belief –and that is not something that can come from a book.
The secret to increasing self-belief is to experience some success. This process can begin with setting and achieving small goals and then building from there. It’s also vital that the entrepreneur is able to appreciate their achievements. This means not being afraid to celebrate hitting targets and welcoming praise. Another necessary component of self-belief is the ability to honestly assess strengths and weaknesses.
Identify The Pain Points
“Best startups generally come from somebody needing to scratch an itch.”
Michael Arrington (Founder, Former Co-Editor, Tech Crunch)
The secret to creating a bestselling product or service is to look at an industry and identify the pain points, the problems that need solving or the markets that have yet to be created. People are always willing to spend money on things they believe will make their life a bit easier – a winning product doesn’t have to be high-tech or fancy – it just needs to be useful. If you can identify the pain points in an industry, you may even be able to get companies to finance the research development of your solution.
Avoid The Trap Of Self-Handicapping
“Behold the turtle, he makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.”
-James Bryant Conant (Former President, Harvard University)
Self-handicapping is a type of behavior where a person sabotages their own efforts in an attempt to protect the ego from the pain of failure. It means that people never fully commit to what they are doing because they associate setbacks as a threat to their self-esteem.
There are two main types of self-handicapping. Behavioral self-handicapping is where a person deliberately makes the task harder so they have an excuse for failing – for example, getting drunk the night before an important work presentation. Claimed self-handicapping refers to a situation where a person gives a reason for their failure before attempting to do something.
In order to do well in business, it is important to give 100 percent commitment – it means not being afraid to fail. If people are too busy protecting their self-esteem, they are never going to take the necessary actions that can make them successful. As Tom Kelley (IDEO) once advised, “fail often so you can succeed sooner”.
Surround Yourself With The Right People
“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team”
-Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn)
The idea of the lone entrepreneur beating all the odds to conquer an industry is appealing, but it is not based in reality. The reason these people have been so effective at achieving their goals is that they have surrounded themselves with the right team. These other contributors might not always share in the glory, but they are crucial to the success of any business. It is not possible for one person to do everything. An effective entrepreneur is able to identify their own weaknesses and find the right people to provide the needed strength.
Real Success Involves Turning Ideas into Products and Services
“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.”
-Scott Belsky (Co-founder, Behance)
Mark Zuckerberg didn’t become one of the richest people on the planet because he came up with a great idea. There were almost certainly other people who considered doing something similar but never got around to it. Coming up with innovative ideas is the easy part – it is turning this into something tangible that makes people successful. That means putting work in and spending the necessary time to make a dream into a reality.
Do What Other People Are Not Prepared To Do
I’ve spent the last 10 years studying and coaching some of the most successful people in business, figuring out what makes them different. They’re not smarter or more talented than the average person -they just consistently do what others aren’t willing to do.
-Rory Vaden (via CNN)
The thing that sets high-achievers apart from the average person is their willingness to leave their comfort zone. It is always going to be easier to avoid taking risks to live a life based on instant gratification. Too many people are satisfied with just being good at what they do because they believe this is enough – the reality is that doing the bare minimum is no longer sufficient. Success is to be found well outside the comfort zone, and it requires mastery, discipline, and determination. It is unreasonable to expect above average results from minimal effort.