Maybe it’s one of the celebrities: Suze, Dave, Donald, Robert. Maybe it’s a historical figure: Washington, Peter the Great, Salk. Maybe it’s a sports figure or a business leader. Maybe you can even point to someone less well-known like a community leader or a charitable great. We all have someone whose success – no matter in what area – we admire. The problem comes when you spend so much time studying and thinking about others’ success and give up on your own.
It doesn’t take long on the internet to find dozens of different takes on the ‘right’ way to achieve success. Try ‘make money without a job‘ or ‘lose weight fast‘ or any one of a number of subjects. I’d argue that research in any area becomes counterproductive in a hurry. Listening, for example, to Suze AND Dave is overkill. The basic information comes through from either of them. If your formula for success is to listen to Trump or Orman, though, you’ll have to make a quick decision, because in many ways the two are incompatible. That ability to sort through the crap – in a hurry – is what makes you either successful or merely a success junkie.
Look at finance. I had a bit of a revelation about finance (along with a few other subjects) a few days ago. Personal finance can cover a million subjects: Roth IRA versus Traditional IRA is a good example of quibbling at the edges. I imagine a lot of people spend a lot of time on spreadsheets and reading up on the requirements before tentatively taking the leap one way or the other. For most of us, that time is not time well-spent. Whatever time you save trying to identify the highest online savings rate bank, for example, is time you could have spent trying to earn more (or spending more time on your family, or charity, etc. – whatever has the most value for you).
Robert Kiyosaki has great advice for getting out of debt. Yes, Mr. Rich Dad. I forget which book it was, but the advice seemed far more relevant than all of the strategies I’ve heard from the get-out-of-debt gurus. His advice? Loosely phrased, figure out how much money you need to pay for essentials: food, shelter, transportation. Then go online, set up automatic payments equal to your net income less the essentials, and have those payments go to your debt. Then go out and figure out how to make more money. Get a promotion, a better job, start a side business, etc. Earn more than you spend.
In accordance with the Pareto Principle, I can usually identify a single action that will help me reach a goal far faster than the next four actions might. Example? Losing weight. You can try lots of fancy diets, read dozens of books, or you can take a simple, direct action: stop eating meat. Stop eating bread. Stop eating something. Worry about tinkering and fiddling later.
Some people will decide they want to get fit by getting online, looking up area gyms, calling around for a good price, going out and buying workout gear, scheduling a babysitter or taking time off work, waiting for a weekend and so on. You know what someone who really wants to get fit does? Drops down on the floor right now and does pushups. Some people will launch a business by researching cool names, agonizing over an LLC, trying to assemble long lists of customers, networking and ordering business cards. Others will start working on a product first, then worry about all that other stuff later – after they have revenues locked in. Which kind of person do you want to be?
I think tremendous value can be identified from the stories of successful people. I’ve gained a lot of understanding of the qualities necessary to succeed from reading, and one quality is an inquisitive mind that is open to all knowledge – but that mind is also ready to throw out the junk ideas in a hurry, too. I can assure you that almost anyone you know who is successful – and again, I’m talking about success in a broad sense, from relationships to finance to fitness to spirituality – doesn’t worry too much about preparation. A success junkie, on the other hand, doesn’t really want to succeed. He just wants to watch others succeed. He sits on the sidelines and waits for his chance. The secret? The chance is always there – it’s waiting for you, you aren’t waiting for it.