As Gallantoro men (and women), we strive to be the very best we can be in our lives. That encompasses success in career, finances, relationships, family, health and more. To achieve the near impossible task of massive success in all these areas, and to find a balance that ultimately leaves you happy and leading a happy and fulfilling life (isn't this the ultimate goal we all strive for?), I'm setting out to deliver what I've learnt and am learning are critical to achieving what we strive for.
Now I will reiterate, this is a work in progress, and may not be a complete article for many, many years. There currently is no precise list of traits and tips to being successful, rather a plethora of small step guides, such as "6 Steps to Being Successful" or "25 Things Successful People Do Every Day". How can there be so many variables? With this guide, I am to one day cover all the essentials.
Now I'm by no means super successful, and there are many areas in my life that I'm continuing to strive to improve in, however perfection doesn't exist. Waiting for all the stars to align would mean never getting to write this post. This, leads into the first step.
Just Do It. No matter how painful and daunting whatever project or goal you're trying to achieve, take that first step. There is enormous power in starting something, and what you will find is once you start, it's much easier to continue, and before you know it you're knee deep into achieving your goal or completing that project.
We often think too much for our own good. Think less, act more, and begin.
"You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
You must have a great purpose in life, something compelling enough to get you back up off your ass when everything seems to be crashing down around you. Your personal legend is your greater goal, your endgame, the only means by which you can lead a satisfying life.
Find out what it is you were put on this Earth to do, what will give you the greatest joy when, in your final moments, you can look back and take pleasure knowing that you achieved it. Once you have your overall goal, your ambition, your purpose; only then can you begin taking the right steps into realising that dream.
“One’s Personal Legend is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend….whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.” - The Alchemist
Remember when you were young, in primary school, and people would ask you, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" The answer would invariably be something like an astronaut, a sports star or a movie star, or something that you know would deliver massive amounts of satisfaction into your life were it to become a reality. But somewhere along the way, we face 'reality'. We get a degree and go and work for someone else, sitting in an office, because it's the right and safe thing to do. You live once. There is no time for safety. Live large!
Back when I was in my early twenties I remember asking one of my friends why he was studying what he was studying in university. He couldn't answer me, he didn't even consider it himself. He just knew he had to get a degree, get a job, and get comfortable. Don't fall into this trap, gentlemen. When you make a goal, make it a big one! As Les Brown once said, "always strive to get on top in life because it’s the bottom that’s overcrowded." Aim high.
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.” - Norman Vincent Peale
Are you a solid decision maker, or do you dawdle and procrastinate over little choices? If you want to be a leader, and want to be successful, you need to be an expert decision maker. When decisions aren't being made, things are not happening and progress is stagnant . Integrate the right tools and techniques, assess the options and balance the benefits of potential outcomes, then make the call. You will not always make the right decision, but it is a critical factor in success, and learning from wrong decisions is something you can only learn by making them in the first place.
As an added bonus, a man who can make swift decisions and then confidently back that decisions, is an attractive trait. For example, "What shall we do tonight honey?" is better answered with a "I'm taking you to see Jaime's Italian for dinner followed by gelato and then we'll take a walk down the boardwalk together", as opposed to "Oh, I'm not sure, what do you feel like doing? Should we stay in? Are you hungry, I'm hungry, well I think I am..." as an extreme example.
"Stay committed to you decisions, but stay flexible in your approach." - Tony Robbins
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” - Michael Jordan
The vast majority of ultra successful people had failed, and failed big, over and over again. Through constant failure comes constant lessons, and a lot of the time it's just a matter of constant digging until you reach the gold.
With each failure, you don't really know how close you came to success, so take each failure as one step closer to the diamond you're digging for. Here are some examples to spur you along...
Oprah Winfrey: fired from her first television job as an anchor in Baltimore, where she said she faced sexism and harassment.
Walt Disney: fired by a newspaper editor because he 'lacked imagination and had no good ideas.'
Steven Spielberg: twice rejected by the University of California School of Cinema Arts.
Colonel Harland David Sanders: better known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, Sanders had a hard time selling his chicken at first. In fact, his famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it.
J.K. Rowling: was a single mum living off welfare when she began writing the first 'Harry Potter' novel.
Harrison Ford: after his first small movie role, an executive took him into his office and told him he'd never succeed in the movie business.
Theodor Seuss Geisel: better known as Dr. Seuss, had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers.
Henry Ford: ruined his reputation with a couple of failed automobile businesses.
Sir James Dyson: went through 5,126 failed prototypes and his savings over 15 years.
Winston Churchill: struggled in school and failed the sixth grade. After school he faced many years of political failures, as he was defeated in every election for public office until he finally became the Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 62.
Abraham Lincoln: In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you’re not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn’t stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed business and was defeated in numerous runs he made for public office.
Jerry Seinfeld: the first time the young comedian walked on stage at a comedy club, he looked out at the audience, froze and was eventually jeered and booed off of the stage.
Fred Astaire: in his first screen test, the testing director of MGM noted that Astaire, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.”
Sidney Poitier: after his first audition, Poitier was told by the casting director, “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?”
Michael Jordan: was actually cut from his high school basketball team.
As the great man Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, "Work your ass off". This is perhaps the most critical factor in success. You have to be willing to work, and work harder and smarter than your opponents.
"But I don't have opponents?"
Yes you do. No matter what you do, your opponent is there. He is the person applying for the same job as you. The person vying for the affections of someone you are seeking. In my case, it's the person auditioning for the same role as me. In that case, there are hundreds of opponents. They are not your enemies, but you need to be better than them, and the way to be better, is to WYAO, or Work Your Ass Off.
Listen to Will Smith below, on his work ethic.
Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, so if you want to be a great man (or woman), to excel in life and not live in mediocrity, then pull up those sleeves, get your hands dirty, and work like hell. Sometimes we may get lucky, but winning the lottery is no where near as satisfying as earning what you want.
But when you're out there partying, horsing around, someone out there at the same time is working hard.
Someone is getting smarter and someone is winning. Just remember that. Now, if you want to coast through life, don't pay attention to any of those rules.
But if you want to win, there is absolutely no way around hard, hard work.
None of my rules, by the way, of success, will work unless you do. I've always figured out that there 24 hours a day. You sleep six hours and have 18 hours left. Now, I know there are some of you out there that say well, wait a minute, I sleep eight hours or nine hours. Well, then, just sleep faster, I would recommend. - Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sometimes you need to take the road of uncertainty. Whether it be quitting a job you hate or investing in something you're not positive about, there comes a time when you need to take a massive risk, in the hope of massive reward.
The time will never be right, and if we wait for it, we'll look back in regret. If you know you need to do something, or get out of something (relationship, job), don't paralyse yourself with fear of the unknown. Jump in and if it doesn't work out, you've taught yourself a lesson, but more often than not, if you have faith and are brave, you will come out on top.
You hear this all the time - don't quit! But When you're pursuing a goal for a decade and have barely moved forward an inch towards your dream, it's hard not to think of quitting.
Thinking of quitting is fine. It's natural. It's healthy. But it's in those thoughts that you must way up and remember why you're pursuing this goal in the first place, and it is now you must ask yourself the question, while looking back on your life in your final moments. There will likely be 3 options.
Your life needn't be put totally on hold to realise your dream, but you need to keep your dream alive. Only you can fan the flame of your personal legend, no one will do it for you. In fact, those closest to you will likely tell you to give up (perhaps not in such words) as they truly care for you, and don't want to see yourself knocking yourself out over and over again trying to attain something great. It is human nature of the common. But you do not want to be common. So don't stop. Keep moving forward. Even if it's just tiny amounts every week, you're closer than you were when you started.
Well, not in the way you may first think.
To achieve great success, in whatever form of pursuit you choose, we really need to be careless in terms of worrying about what other people may think. Removing fear of embarrassment or fear of judgment from other people will open you up to essentially be fearless and confident, trying everything and anything to reach your goals and dreams, for the little voice inside your head saying "don't say that, imagine what people will say" will soon no longer exist, and you will find yourself approaching people in your industry you never thought you would have the guts to approach.
This is reflective of successful people in many facets of life. How often do you see the arrogant jerk always with beautiful women, or the low IQ yet overly cocky businessman driving around in his Porsche who just seems to have all the luck? Luck has nothing to do with it, but it has something to do with these types of people exploiting their natural ability to not care what other people think. Now, I'm not saying go out there and be an arrogant jerk, but simply acknowledge the fear that has been holding you back, and push past it.
In the words of Nike yet again - Just Do It. Act now, worry later.
“Successful people make their decisions quickly and change their minds slowly. Failures make their decisions slowly and change their minds quickly.”
So think quickly, speak up before your mind has the chance to second guess you, and try everything and everything. Don't live to regret the chances you could have taken.