The Core Beliefs of the Delightfully Successful

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Last year I listed some simple daily habits of the delightfully successful. Revisiting that article made me think. Success is based on action, but actions are the result of beliefs – so what do the delightfully successful people I know almost all believe?

1. They believe they don’t have to wait to be “selected.” They can simply select themselves.  Once upon a time most people had to wait: to be accepted, to get funded, to be promoted – to somehow be “discovered.”

Not anymore. Access is nearly unlimited; social media allows you to reach out to almost anyone. (Whether or not you actually connect is up to you and how you craft your approach.) Anyone can publish their own work, distribute their own music, create their own products, and attract their own customers.

You can do almost anything you have the desire and skills and drive to do; you don’t need to wait for someone else to discover your talents. You get to discover yourself. The only thing holding you back is your willingness to take the leap and try.

2. They believe being the first matters less than being the best.

Success is often the result of perseverance. When the first person to the game stops trying, stops striving, or starts compromising their principles and values, the person who relentlessly seeks perfection is the person who wins. Other people may be smarter, better connected, more talented, or better funded. But they can’t win if they stop trying.

Don’t worry about being the first one in. Focus on being the best one still in the game.

3. They believe success seems predictable only in hindsight.

Read all the stories of successful entrepreneurs and it’s easy to think those people have some intangible entrepreneurial something: some talent, or skill, or idea, or level of creativity that you don’t have. (Or maybe they were just born lucky?)

They don’t. Success is never inevitable. It’s easy to look back on an entrepreneurial path to greatness and assume that every vision was clear, every plan was perfect, every step was executed flawlessly, and tremendous success was a foregone conclusion. Incredible success only seems inevitable once incredible success has been achieved.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future.” ~Steve Jobs

Success is never assured. Success is never predestined. If you’re willing to work hard and persevere, who you are is sufficient – because when you work hard and persevere, who you become is definitely more than enough to do something significant.

4. They believe personal success comes from service, not selfishness.

I don’t know anyone who has accomplished something amazing on his or her own. Great leaders focus on providing the tools and training to help their team do their jobs and achieve their goals. Great consultants put their clients’ needs first. Great businesses go out of their way to help and serve their customers by solving for the customer.

And by so doing they also reap the rewards.

Your odds of success are proportional to the number of people that want you to succeed.

When you’re in it only for yourself, initial success is always finite — and fleeting. When you’re in it for others, they succeed – and so do you.

5. They believe in doing a few things no one else is willing to do.

Only do what the crowd does and your career success will be no greater than the average of the crowd.

Every time you do something, think of a few extra things you can do that others aren’t willing to do. A little more research. Another look at something others have ignored. Another shot at salvaging a failed customer relationship. One more call, one more email, one more attempt to connect and build a relationship.

“There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.” ~Zig Ziglar

The best opportunities often lie waiting in fields other people can’t be bothered to cultivate. Find those fields and start cultivating.

6. They believe that the depth of their network is more important than the breadth

The downside of the ease of social media is that building a network can become a numbers game. Few people need numbers. Every person needs real connections: people they can help, people they can trust, people whom they care about and who care about them.
Forget amassing a huge network. Reach out to the people whom you really want to be part of your professional life for a long time.

7. They believe ideas are important… but execution is everything.

Ideas are not a product. There are notebooks, binders and computer files filled with ideas and high level plans that were never implemented.

Have an idea? Great. Craft a strategy. Set up a basic plan to implement it. Then execute, adapt, execute, adapt, and build something useful that wort of works. Success doesn’t come from ideas. Success comes from executing ideas.

8. They believe leadership is earned, not given.

Leaders don’t just bring in venture capital or negotiate a big customer contract. While certainly examples of leadership, those actions typically indicate a kind of leadership that is situational and short-lived.

Real leadership involves people. Real leaders consistently inspire, motivate, and make their employees feel capable and skilled and respected. Real leaders are the kind of people their employees follow not because they have to but because they want to.

How? They make people feel they aren’t following – they’re on a journey together. And that means their team has given them the permission to lead, a permission they’ve earned over time.

9. They believe in paying it forward.

Ever heard a colleague say, “I would be willing to work harder if I got a raise”? Or, “We would do a better job if the customer paid us more”? Or, “I would be willing to make a bigger sacrifice if I knew it would pay off”?

Successful people don’t wait to get a raise; they work hard to earn a raise. Successful businesses don’t wait for higher prices to deliver greater value; they deliver greater value to earn higher prices. Successful entrepreneurs don’t wait for a payoff to give their all to a startup; they give their all so they can earn a decent payoff.

It is common for people expect to be compensated more before they will consider doing more. Successful people see compensation as a reward for exceptional effort, not the driver.

10. They believe they will make their own history. 

Few people summit the Mount Everest of career success. Few people become household names.    But think about the past 20 years. Technologies, industries, and ways of doing business that were once science fiction are now commonplace.

The next 10 to 20 years will be no different. We can all be a part of whatever the next waves might be. We can all make a change in our industries. We can all make a change in our professions.

We can all stand at the forefront of a minor or major change, even if only in our niches or communities. When we’re willing to try something new, someday we will look back with pride on the part we played in history. Someday we will look back in pride on the part we played in making life a little better for others.

And isn’t that the best kind of success? The delightful kind?