As you’re hopefully picking up in these letters, there are only a handful of issues that will hinder your success more than excusitis and blame. Unfortunately, the natural tendency for most people when they’re not succeeding at something is to look for a reason why they’re not succeeding at that thing. For example,
- I can’t do math because I don’t have a math brain
- I can’t get poetry because I don’t get poetic language
- I can’t lose weight because I have low metabolism
- I can’t play tennis because I’m not coordinated
- I can’t write a best-selling book because I don’t have the right connections
- I can’t get a job because I don’t have enough experience
- I can’t build a great relationship because my parents weren’t great role models (or my parents got divorced or I never knew my dad)
- I can’t start a business because I don’t have enough money
- I can’t be involved in __________ because I don’t have enough time
The list goes on and on. It’s easy to find excuses/reasons for why we’re not succeeding at something.
However, what we rarely take the time to acknowledge is that there are other people out there who have either succeeded in the past or who are currently succeeding at the very thing that we’re not succeeding at. In other words, while we’re saying, “I just can’t lose weight,” there are others who are losing it. While we’re saying, “I can’t find a job,” there are others who are. While we’re saying, “I don’t have the time,” there are others who are far busier than us who are finding the time. While we’re saying, “I don’t have enough money to start a scalable business,” there are others who have started with less who have succeeded at building a multi-million dollar business.
At some point, if you want to succeed, you have to choose to give up the excuse-making mechanism in your life and choose to own that if others are succeeding at something you’re not, you just might be the problem. Or to put it another way, if someone else has proven that it’s possible to do the very thing you want to do and you either haven’t or can’t, who’s responsible for that? Exactly! You are.
The cool part about making this admission is that once you own this lesson, everything changes. Why? Because while excusitis leads to stasis (meaning things remain the same), responsibility leads to transformation because it opens you up to change, to doing something different.
Now, the obvious first step to creating the change you want is to start studying those who’ve done what you want to do—and learn from them. If you’re struggling with math, find someone who isn’t and learn from them. If you’re struggling with networking, find someone who’s doing great at it and learn from them. If you’re struggling with controlling your anger, find someone who isn’t and learn from them. If you’re struggling with managing your money, find someone who isn’t and learn from them.
But what should you be looking to learn from them? Well, typically, if someone is succeeding at something you’re not, there are four major areas to look at (knowing, doing, feeling and being).
1. How Do They Think Differently?
Whenever you find someone who’s succeeding at a level beyond you, chances are they think differently about that thing than you do. For example, if you’re trying to lead a group of people, chances are you’re focused on your role and what you’re supposed to do as a leader. That’s understandable because the reason you became the leader of that group was probably because you were good at doing something. However, if you want to become a great leader, you’re going to have to learn to think differently.
Why? Because leadership isn’t about you and your position or even what you’re supposed to do. Leadership is about producing results through other people. If that’s true, and it is, then your focus as a leader should NOT be on what you do but on what you’re people do. That’s a huge mental change. But it’s a mental change that all great leaders make. It’s what allows them to become a great leader.
If you find anyone who’s doing great at something, it’s almost always because they think differently about that thing. Great mathematicians think differently. Great innovators think differently. Great artists think differently. Great executives think differently. Great spouses think differently. Great speakers think differently. Great nurses think differently. Great programmers think differently. Great entrepreneurs think differently. People who succeed at something that others don’t, think differently about that thing.
So, how do those who are succeeding at the thing you want to succeed at think differently about that thing?
Note: Pay special attention to their mindsets. Successful people almost always have a different mindset than others.
2. How Do They Act Differently?
As powerful as thinking is, thinking alone doesn’t make something so. Ideas only become reality when they’re turned into actions which can then be translated into results. You can think, “Eat healthy” all day long, but if you’re still reaching for cookies. chips and fried foods, chances are you’ll never achieve the results you want.
So, as you’re studying those who are succeeding at a level beyond you, make sure you’re paying close attention to their behaviors. What actions are they engaged in on a regular basis. For example, if you study a lot of successful people, you’ll notice that they frequently don’t check their email first thing in the morning. Why? Because they don’t want to be put in a reactive mindset at the start of their day and secondly, they want to focus on what they want to accomplish first before letting others control their day.
If you study successful money managers, you’ll notice that most of them automate their savings habit. In other words, they’ll have their money automatically deducted from their checking account each month and sent to their investment account. Why? Because they know that if their money is automatically deducted from their checking account, they can’t spend it. In other words, they don’t “trust” themselves to do the right thing, they automate the right thing. Note: If you haven’t read my Johnson Letter on the 10-10-2-20 plan, make sure you do so today.
So, what actions are the people who are succeeding at the thing you want to succeed at doing differently than you are?
3. How Do They Feel Differently?
The next area to look at is the area of emotion. Winners often feel differently than others. For example, most people who succeed greatly are fueled by some kind of passion. They love what they do. In fact, you’ll often hear them say, “I’d do this even if I wasn’t getting paid for it. It’s what I love.”
Now, it is possible to succeed at something without loving it (for ex. you might not love a subject at school, but you can still do well at it). However, when it comes to something you want to do, it’s infinitely easier to pursue something you’re passionate about.
Since emotion creates motion, most successful people find something that connects emotionally for them—even if the thing they’re working on isn’t something they’re excited about. For example, they might not be excited about getting in shape but they might connect with a core value (like excellence) or with a desire to win or to overcome a bad habit so they feel like they’re more in control or with a desire to please their spouse. In other words, you don’t always have to find emotional energy from the thing you’re doing—but you do have to find it somewhere.
Another key area of emotion to look at is the whole area of confidence. Chances are, if you find a successful person you’ll almost always find a corollary level of high confidence in their ability to do the thing you want to do. For example, on a tennis court, while you may be worried, “Will I get my second serve in?” they’re not worried if they’ll get it in; instead they’re focused on where they want to hit their second serve which they know will go in.
So, as you look at those who are succeeding where you’re not, what’s different about their emotional states over your own?
4. What About Their Character Is Different?
The fourth key area of change is the area of being/character. When you see someone who’s succeeding where you’re not, the fourth area you’ll want to consider looking at is their character. For example, when you find someone who’s successful, you’ll almost always find someone with the character quality of perseverance. They just don’t quit. They keep on keeping on when others give up.
Or another key character quality for successful people is the character quality of commitment (or discipline). For example, if you take an average writer, they’ usually wait to be “inspired” to write. Great writers don’t wait to be inspired. The average person waits until they feel like acting. The successful person acts and eventually they feel like like acting. That’s why most great writers have set patterns for their writing. For example, “Everyday at _______ (let’s say 8:00 a.m.) I sit at my desk and write for X amount of minutes (or Y amount of words).” They don’t wait to be inspired. They just start writing and eventually the words start to flow.
So, what’s different about the character of the people you’re studying that might help you become more successful at that thing you want to be successful at?
Anyway you add it up, excusitis and blame are not your friends. They’re your enemies. If you want to make progress, you have to let go of them and embrace personal responsibility. If someone somewhere is succeeding at something you want to accomplish, then own that you might be the problem. Once you do that, you’ll find the power to change. And once you have the power to change, all you’ll need to do to succeed is study those who’ve done what you want to do and do what they’ve done.
To help you figure out what you need to do differently, you simply need to ask yourself the four questions we just discussed.
- How do they think differently?
- How do they act differently?
- How do they feel differently?
- What about their character is different?
Once you begin discovering your answers to these four questions, start implementing them immediately and you’ll be on your way to succeeding where you haven’t in the past.
To your accelerated success!
P.S. In case you’re thinking, “Yeah, but aren’t there circumstances outside our control that can limit our level of success?” the answer is, “Yes.” For example, there may be people who are more genetically gifted than you. Or there may be people who’ve grown up in better social economic environments than you or had better family situations than you, etc. However, successful people don’t focus on what they can’t control, they focus on what they can control.
There are plenty of people born into poverty who have gone on to make millions while there are others who were born into millions who have ended up in poverty. There are plenty of people who have physical or emotional handicaps who’ve succeeded at levels that people who don’t have those handicaps haven’t. Likewise, there are plenty of people who don’t have genetics on their side who’ve succeeded at amazing levels over people who have every genetic benefit possible and haven’t. So don’t worry about what you can’t control. Focus on what you can control and refuse to let excuses or external forces control your present experiences or future destiny. Own your results and everything will change.
Flickr image from bookgrl