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How to Know the Secret of Success

Two Parts:Quitting the Wrong MentalitiesEstablishing the Right Habits

The secret of success is not one single, pithy tip. The “secret of success,” if there is one, is that success is brought about by a combination of smart habits, a tenacious spirit, and a whole lot of luck. Making a few conscious changes to your behavior and attitude could prove to quite rewarding.

Part 1
Quitting the Wrong Mentalities

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    Stop procrastinating. Avoiding the unpleasant parts of work doesn’t make them go away. Break the seemingly unmanageable into manageable chunks, then sprinkle those less-enjoyable aspects of a task into that other stuff that you really like. Building up a huge hunk of the bad stuff to deal with all at once, after you’ve completed the enjoyable stuff, is just going to leave a sour taste in your mouth at the end of a project.[1]
    • Delaying gratification—“gratification” being whatever it is you’d rather do than the thing you’re procrastinating—has been shown to increase your productivity and enjoyment of the gratification itself.[2] It can also lead to lower stress levels.
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    Beat negativity. Understand that the road to success will not be unending, continual joy. There will be difficulties, setbacks, and moments where you question your commitment. These will occur whether you’re on the right path or the wrong path, so understand that while it might be hard sometimes, you’ll need to make an effort to re-establish and embrace that positivity you felt at the outset of your endeavor.[3]
    • Positive mental attitude (occasionally abbreviated as “PMA”) is crucial for entrepreneurs.[4]
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    Don’t define yourself by others’ success.[5] You’ll lose sight of your own goals and merits, and it can promote feelings of bitterness, jealousy, and inferiority. Competition is healthy, but focusing too much on others can lead you to internalize unhealthy attitudes.
    • Along these same lines: praise your co-workers! When your colleagues, peers, or subordinates knock it out of the park, let them know. People and teams flourish this way.[6]
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    Embrace failure. Failure always illuminates a truth about the methods you used, or the particular goals you pursued; interpret failure not as a badge of shame, but as a call for self-reflection. Sometimes it’s only through facing the insurmountable, failing, and then struggling to pull ourselves back together that we develop the tenacity we’ll need to succeed.[7]
    • ”Failure,” as Henry Ford put it, “is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”[8]
    • Failure isn’t always indicative of having the wrong idea—sometimes it’s simply the right idea, pursued ineffectively. Don’t scrap everything you’ve been trying all at once and or totally restructure. When working within a company or partnership, for example, it could be an issue of properly understanding each member’s accountability.[9]
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    Focus on survival. The most important goal when beginning a new business, job, or craft is simply to survive.[10] Don’t set your sights too high or wide at the outset, establishing unrealistic goals for your fledgling enterprise.
    • You will never achieve that goal of, say, providing coffee to all of the homeless in the world through your new coffee shop, if you don’t focus on keeping that coffee shop in business and thriving first. Long-term goals are important, but shouldn’t come at the expense of sustainable short-term ones.

Part 2
Establishing the Right Habits

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    Pursue something meaningful to you.[11] Committing yourself to a fulfilling pursuit means that passion can pick up the slack when you’re not feeling especially driven. This doesn’t necessarily mean to pursue something you find fun 24/7, but it should be meaningful to you. The effort you exert should be on something that will make you proud in the end.
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    Prioritize your tasks. Focus on completing the tasks which will benefit you the most in the long run. Learn to identify the difference between “high-value” tasks (that which will benefit you the most in the long term) versus “low-value” tasks (that which may be easier, but will offer much fewer benefits).[12]
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    Complete your projects.[13] Follow through on that which you’ve begun. Finishing one project will teach you exponentially more than a dozen fizzled-out attempts, even if you never want to look at that project again.
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    Introduce the unexpected. Successful innovators are often lauded and idolized, but it can still be terrifying to pursue the unproven idea. Don’t be afraid of venturing into the unknown—great ideas may be a dime a dozen, but actually putting in the work to pursue a great idea can be extremely rewarding.
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    Network like a human being. Networking can easily feel mercenary and shallow when advertised too overtly. Understand that networking is crucial to success in most industries, but that you should never forget that you’re forging connections with other people. You never know when you might form a true bond on an unexpected occasion, and find your next business partner, investor, or employer.
    • Studies have shown that the most successful business people excel in both cognitive and social skills.[14] Don’t neglect your interpersonal skills!

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Categories: Finance and Business