Have you ever wondered what makes some people super-successful? Could it be their exceptional intelligence, their privileged upbringing, their great connections, or is it simply luck? Well, consider for example Lord Alan Sugar and Duncan Bannatyne. It is obvious that they have not had all of these advantages, but they are still extremely wealthy and successful. And likewise, many people who have had such advantages do not go on to be successful.
So what is that “X Factor” that makes some seemingly ordinary people able to achieve so much?
Well, there are many factors that influence a person’s level of success, but one of the most important is self discipline – i.e. doing whatever it takes to achieve your goals and be successful.
In his book ‘The Success Principles’, Jack Canfield writes that: “Behind every great achievement is a story of education, training, practice, discipline and sacrifice.” To attain success you have to be willing to pay the price – this may mean devoting yourself to one activity whilst putting the rest of your life on hold.
It’s no good being naturally good at something and determined to succeed if you don’t have the self discipline to practice enough to hone your skills to the required level. There is a theory that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve the level of mastery associated with becoming a leading expert in any field. That is half a day, five days per week for TEN YEARS!
Top level athletes might train 5 to 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, with a gruelling regime that is incredibly physically and emotionally demanding. They absolutely have to have 100% self discipline to keep pushing themselves to their limits, day after day.
OK, so not many of us are top athletes, so how do we apply this in our own business? Well, self discipline is in effect just making yourself do something that you don’t want to do, in order to achieve your goals. It might be picking up the phone and calling prospects who probably don’t want to talk to you, going out networking, researching new markets or performance managing your staff – whatever puts you outside your comfort zone (or that you find boring) and you’d therefore rather put off.
If you struggle with self-discipline, there are some things you can do to keep you on track:
- Having clear goals, written down in detail and referred to regularly will help you to focus on what you need to do. If you feel brave, share your goals with somebody else – although you might let yourself down, you’re less likely to let somebody else down.
- Plan your day, week, month and year to ensure that you are making the time to do the things that you need to do to achieve your goals. Keep a default diary and make a 90 day plan and make sure that you reward yourself when you reach your milestones.
- In his book ‘Eat That Frog’, Brian Tracy sets out a method for achieving your goals every day. Evaluate what needs to be done, prioritise your tasks and then keep going until you’ve completed the most important stuff. First thing in the morning, do something that you have been putting off for whatever reason – then it won’t be hanging over your head all day. Enjoy the feeling of achievement!
- There are never enough hours in the day to do everything, so it’s important that we are not distracted by things that are urgent but not important. Focus on the things that help you progress towards your goals and learn to put first things first.
- Being successful is hard work, so try to make your working environment that gives you energy and positivity. It is hard to be motivated when you are surrounded by negative people, so think what you can do to surround yourself with more positive people if need be.
- If you still need help, then get a professional coach who will help to keep you motivated and accountable and keep you on track to achieving your goals.
Remember – the only thing that is stopping you from being as successful as you want is YOU.
This blog post was written by Kevin Stansfield of ActionCOACH. Kevin is one of the UK’s top business coaches and works with business owners to achieve their goals and make their businesses into commercial, profitable enterprises that work without them.