Success is an iceberg.
Most of what it takes to achieve your goals is hidden from plain sight.
That’s because fake-successful people dominate the airwaves.
Real success means enough money to live humbly, leftover cash to invest in charitable acts, a healthy mind and body, a family you spend time with, work you love, and a good circle of people around you.
The most successful people I’ve studied, who aren’t Lambo Instagram heroes, do these subtle things.
They understand most big decisions are reversible
Quitting a job seems like a huge deal.
It’s easy to think one wrong move could destroy your career forever. I went through that feeling when I quit my job. The thing is most big decisions can be reversed. You can quit a job, start a business, and always find another job.
You can get divorced and still have a great relationship with your kids. You can dump your partner, have your heart smashed to pieces, and still find the love of your life months later.
You can buy a terrible home and still sell it in a year for the right one.
Most decisions aren’t permanent. When you stop seeing decisions as permanent, it’s easier to make bolder ones.
They realize this odd thing about most people
My friend Pammy on Twitter taught me most people are emotionally wounded children in adult bodies.
She’s bang on.
Once you understand this you stop caving into critics, haters, dumb bosses, and those who hold you back. Without all these adult babies in your life, it’s ten times easier to be successful.
They turn realistic timeframes upside down
Elon Musk is someone only to listen to occasionally. A lot of what he says is ego-driven boys talk.
But this point he makes is useful:
“Stop being patient and start asking yourself, how do I accomplish my 10-year plan in 6 months?”
He believes we’ll fail when we attempt to take a 10-year goal and do it in 6 months, but we’ll make more progress than if we just expect standard timeframes to apply.
Be unreasonable enough to make your goals a reality faster.
During high school I wanted my memorization education to be over.
Two years before the end of high school, I quit and went to college. I wasn’t supposed to be enrolled, but they forgot to ask for my high school diploma or check my ID.
I snuck into college two years earlier than everybody else. This gave me an unreasonable advantage. I had to grow up faster.
Suddenly, I went from hanging around pubescent teenagers watching their first erotic movie and panicking about their voices breaking, to hanging out with 20-year-olds who had jobs, smoked weed, and drove cars.
Why does everything have to happen according to a deadline set by the previous generation? It doesn’t.
Successful people rewrite the rules.
They don’t wait for gurus to tell them what to do
Too many amateurs are waiting for some knight in shining armor to tell them what to do.
It’s a waste of life.
Instead, be proactive, do experiments, try stuff, ask questions, send messages on social media, question reality. Just do anything but stand around and wait for answers.
Answers come from doing, not standing still.
They commit the ultimate sin
They change their mind often.
Kevin Kelly goes further:
You are only as young as the last time you changed your mind.
A lot of success can be measured by how many times you changed your mind in the last year.
Make the goal to see the person you were a year ago as an absolute joke. (I find the person I was in 2019 hilarious, for example. Read my cold shower diaries LOL).
Change your mind about everything.
Don’t hold any one idea too strongly. Because strong beliefs hold us back. They can blind us from the truth.
They see setbacks as a hidden sign
The way we view setbacks determines their value.
It’s easy to see a setback as a punishment.
Famous author Paulo Coelho says they’re really a sign designed to shake you because you were sleeping for too long.
Don’t be a sleeper.
If your life is full of back-to-back disasters it’s a sign you need to radically change what you’re doing and get back on your tippy toes again to face proactive opportunities head-on.
They take this idea from Charlie Munger seriously
I still get miserable. When I do, I now know why.
Charlie Munger explains that our happiness is murdered when we have unrealistic expectations.
The phrase “I deserve more” is the kiss of death.
You don’t deserve jack.
Charlie urges us to have more realistic expectations. Make more small things seem like huge achievements. See big goals as unlikely to happen so you’re disconnected from the outcome and can focus on the process.
Successful people expect not a lot to happen. That’s why it eventually does.
They see obstacles as the path to freedom
Obstacles are stepping stones. You need them. Why?
Obstacles provide the learning needed to get to the next level. This is what it looks like visually:
If you avoid obstacles you fail to learn anything new. You keep doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome, the definition of insanity.
Seek out obstacles.
They tell people they’re dumb
My former Buddha boss used to say “explain it to me, I’m dumb.”
It was a bizarre thing to say. Yet he meant it. Now he’s one of the most successful tech leaders in the world.
Assume you know nothing. Assume what you know about a subject is wrong. A learning mindset lowers your ego, makes you humble in the eyes of others, and gets you access to killer opportunities.
Bottom line: nobody likes a know-it-all.
They face their fears
If we don’t face our fears, our fears will chase us forever
Many people fear public speaking. They say things like, “I’m an introvert, I can’t do it.” Bulldust.
Writer and friend Michael Thompson has written many times about how public speaking held him back. Not only was he shy, but he had a noticeable stutter people would frequently make jokes of.
He didn’t give up.
He learned how to speak in front of others. Now he teaches the skill to people around the world.
Fears we never face keep sabotaging our lives until we confront them.
Get leverage on your fear by proving it wrong once. Doesn’t need to be a massive win. One small attempt is all it takes to rewire the brain.
They get pissed off when they hit a painful plateau
Being calm and patient is overrated.
The strategy I mimicked was to get freaking pissed off. I did an audit of each area of my life: career, romance, family, finances, education, etc.
I was bankrupt in them all.
I got angry and made a bunch of stupid decisions to try and break the cycle. The outcome I got isn’t the lesson. What I realized: we are in control of everything, therefore, everything is our fault.
That’s good news. No need to blame your failures on others anymore.
Successful people take personal responsibility. They don’t blame their misfortunes on the elderly, aka grandpa politicians.
They understand this bizarre paradox
A friend became a mother after she sold her cupcake business for millions.
She said to me, “When your baby is born it’s a reminder your life will end.”
One life starts, to remind us another will end.
I’d never thought of children in that way, although I remember how fragile life is whenever I think of my near-miss with cancer back in 2015.
Successful people have a good dose of mortality motivation.