We’ve all seen inspiration lists that feature a wildly prosperous person (like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or Steve Jobs) under a catchy headline telling us how to be successful – either in business or life in general. It’s followed by a number of things we should all do to achieve that success. The idea, of course, is that it worked for this person, so it should work for us too.
It’s easy to dismiss these offhand – – I’m never going to be a billionaire entrepreneur so just forget it. Early in my business life I did that all the time. At some point, though, I started to pay attention to some of the inspiration lists. And this is what I decided to do with them:
Look for things you are doing already. Okay, we all work hard. We all read and try to learn things that will make us more effective and productive. We try our hardest to achieve without giving up. These are affirmations of the great job we are doing every day. Look for them in inspiration lists and celebrate them! Then think of ways to do even more of them.
Cross off things that are beyond your control. This one will take some soul searching because it’s easy to dismiss a lot. You don’t make the company’s products, or you don’t have any input on who gets hired or who you get to work with. But you can offer great service, whether it’s to the general public or coworkers. And you can always help others improve. Make better the things you can and don’t worry about the rest.
Look for things you can start doing. Whether it’s focusing on your well-being or taking more risks, there is almost always something in an inspiration list that you could do better. And avoid the temptation to feel you have to do it on a grand scale. If organization is a problem, schedule a little time to organize something small. Too many distractions? Develop a morning routine and stick with it! That will help you focus for the rest of every day.
The best way to be successful is to know yourself. Know what you do well and find ways to do more of it. Regardless of where you are in your career, we all have areas we can improve so make that a priority. Learning resources are abundant so take advantage of them.
In the end, we all make our own success. Our stories can be an inspiration to others. But everyone has to find ways to make it on their own. In the year ahead, be your own inspiration and create your success story.