In this age of short attention spans, information overload and instant gratification, we’re ALL looking for the “EASY” button; to change our habits, to improve our lives, to add to our knowledge and expertise, to lose weight or to find our soul mate. The simple truth is that there ISN’T one. All of these things are possible, and NOT overly difficult or complicated to achieve, but they don’t happen by “magic”, or by pressing a simple button. What they DO require is focused and determined effort and action on our parts. It helps to have a clear understanding of the “WHY” in what we want/need to learn, so that we can realistically decide and evaluate if a program is going to provide that answer, or at least send us down the correct path towards our ultimate goal(s).
I have rightly been described as being an “information sponge” and have also been a big proponent of investing in one’s personal self-education, as well as furthering your professional education & skills. I have personally received much benefit from this practice, but I’ve also experienced just as many disappointments in my efforts and substantial expenditures. This has occurred mostly when I’ve tried to seek in others, or their products, what I wanted to see in them, as opposed to what was actually there or the benefit(s) they would realistically provide to me.
I was recently on my first call with my new personal business coach and during our conversation, we were discussing my past efforts and “rather impressive” collection of self-improvement and self-development books, DVD’s and programs, when he used a term that I’d never heard before: “Shelf-Help”, to describe our propensity to buy self-improvement or self-development books and/or products, that we do so with the best of intentions, but that we NEVER use, instead allowing them to collect dust on the shelf. I’m certainly “GUILTY” of this behavior, as my family with readily attest. The problem with this type of behavior, while it may be well-meaning & good intentioned, is that it can cause the following negative outcomes:
1) It can provide you with a false sense of security.
2) It can cause you to become uncertain and make you feel “inadequate”.
3) It can cause you to feel overwhelmed and more confused.
4) It can also cause you to become more indecisive.
5) It can cause you to always be chasing the next “magic pill”, or solution, and never focusing on finishing and MASTERING the program(s) that you already own (a perpetual dog chasing his tail).
In the end, I would still make all of the investments that I’ve made in the past, and will continue to so invest in the future, but I will do so with the understanding and knowledge that the mere act of purchase does not constitute an “education.” Action is always necessary for growth.
My suggestion to you is to finish and master one program at a time, before you’re distracted by the next flashy, wiz-bang, shiny object that’s sure to come along. Now go blow the dust off and turn your shelf-help back in to self-help!
I have enjoyed a healthy dose of both success & failure over the 30+ years I have been in the business world and I will share with you that success is certainly more “fun” and it definitely pays better too! While I will concede that there are MANY different pillars of success, these are my personal top 10 suggestions.
NOTE: The following “10 Pillars of Success” is an excerpt from my upcoming book (working titled) “THE Underwear Entrepreneur”.
1) ACTION: You MUST take focused action on a DAILY basis towards your dreams and goals or you highly likely WON’T achieve them. The most successful people out there are the ones who have embraced these ideas and are DOING something to build their businesses. Taking targeted/focused action and making changes can be uncomfortable at first, but stick with it and watch what can happen!
TIP: Establish a goals checklist, a personal “road-map” so that you can track your step-by-step journey to success!
2) ATTITUDE: As Henry Ford once famously said: “If you believe you can do a thing or you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” It is YOUR attitude that will either unlock or bolt shut the door to success!!! Dare to dream (and achieve) GREAT things, and then go make it happen! The ONLY difference between those who thrive and those who flounder is in their heads, successful people DECIDE to succeed! What are YOU going to decide to do???
TIP: Your attitude is a choice that you make; you can choose to be positive, or you can be negative, the choice is yours alone to make!
3) DEDICATION: The reality of today’s business climate is that EVERYONE has to “do more with less”, working long days & weeks are now the new “normal”, and dedication to one’s profession is NO longer “optional”. This ISN’T saying that you can’t strive for “work-life” balance, but understand it’s NOT something that you can any longer take lightly.
TIP: I truly believe that you MUST have priorities, and taking responsibility & care of one’s family (if you have one), should be at the TOP of your list. The BEST way to do that is to excel at your job, profession or business.
4) FOCUS: By being focused on your goals, you can avoid the trap of “shiny object syndrome”, the single biggest distraction that most entrepreneurs face. Find the balance between “tunnel vision” (being TOO focused) and being ALL over the place (being completely unfocused) in your thinking and actions.
A trick that has helped me: Set a time limit for using social media and e-mail.
5) HABITS: Successful people have arrived at their success by establishing & maintaining the necessary habits to enable them to achieve their goals. There are obviously “good habits” and “bad habits”. There is NO hard & fast list of good habits, but I would suggest that these are 8 of the key habits to develop and nurture for long-term success:
TIP: Do what works best for you! I’m constantly working on these to refine them for myself.
6) HARD WORK: The United States, in spite of ALL of its faults, is still regarded around the world as the BEST place to start with absolutely nothing, and based solely on your willingness to engage in hard work, have passion about what you’re doing, perseverance and patience in achieving your goals, you can ACHIEVE almost anything. It truly is the land of opportunity. Nowhere else have so many stories been written about “rags to riches” and they happen here EVERY day. NO place on Earth is the equal of the U.S. when it comes to honoring and rewarding hard work.
Tip: Reward yourself for achieving goals & milestones, you’ve earned it!
7) PASSION: Passion is the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning and the last thing you think about before you go to bed at night. It can feel like an addiction, and if someone were to tell you to stop, it would be difficult, if not impossible for you to give it up. Those who have uncovered their passion feel compelled to pursue it, whether or not they are getting paid to do it. You MUST give your passion fuel and room to grow. Your passion has the need to expand, and the surest way to do that is to share it with others.
TIP: Strive to spend more time with others who share your passion and spend less time with those who do not.
8) PATIENCE, PERSEVERANCE & PERSISTENCE: The 3 legged stool of long-term success.
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford
The road to success is often paved with failure– and failure can be a very expensive education, but it’s ultimately worth it!
TIP: While it can & likely will be difficult at times, long-term success requires patience and a willingness to endure the tough times knowing that you can pull through them and emerge better for the experience.
9) PLANNING: “Success is a journey, NOT a destination” – Make conscious choices & decisions instead of dwelling on what you “should” be doing. This will enable you to reach your goals quicker and help you to ensure your path to success.
TIP: Set-up a list of written goals and objectives, read them daily, keep track of one’s you’ve achieved and add new ones.
10) VISION & WISDOM: Understand that no matter how “smart” you are (or think that you are), you CANNOT predict the future. There’s a HUGE difference between Vision and prognostication; having vision is a “good thing”, in that it allows you to survey the business landscape and try to determine what direction things are headed, while prognostication typically sets you up to become ridiculed, marginalized or ruins your reputation and credibility.
TIP: I humbly suggest that you use tools, such as a Vision Board, to help keep you focused on your goals & dreams. It serves as a constant reminder and is a visual representation of WHAT you want. It can include pictures, words or other items which have significance to you & your dreams.