A casual conversation at the coffee machine between two colleagues running their respective small businesses at a co-working space usually goes like this:
Mark: There’s certainly fault in our stars Aron! Despite our relentless efforts, we do not achieve what we always want to?
Aron: Seriously, I wonder what extraordinary things successful people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Elon Musk or Steve Jobs must have done to achieve such a high stature in life?
Mark: Ahhh! Long way to go man! Long way to go!
Aron: Forget it! Let’s guzzle a cup of coffee and smoke one more fag Mark!
The above conversation usually takes place on one of those bad days when nothing works. Such a conversation clearly indicates how demotivated both Mark and Aron are.
Well, if you are on the same side of the fence as Mark and Aron, then probably you also ask your colleague the same question repeatedly
“what extraordinary things successful people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Elon Musk or Steve Jobs must have done to achieve such a high stature in life?”
The answer to this question is not definitive. In other words, “Key to success” is a very subjective matter. Each one who is successful has his own set of principles, experiences, action and inaction that lead him to the zenith of glory. B.C. Forbes, the author of “Key To Success” puts the above notion in the following way.
Key To Success: The B.C. Forbes Way
“Nobody can hand you a ready-made key to open the door of success. You must fashion your own key and find the combination of the lock for yourself. No magician can waft you to the heights of fortune and fame. You cannot fly on the wings of an airplane. The road often rocky has to be traversed on foot. You, and you alone, can supply the motive power. You, and you alone must put forth the necessary exertion. No one can remove from your shoulders the burden of the effort. You must do your own climbing. Nor are there any mystic short-cuts. The full distance must be honestly, even painstakingly traveled.”
Secret To Success: The 11 Commandments
This means there is no “Success Bible” laying down standard principles or rules that will set you on the path of success.
However,that said, there are certain facets observed in the mindset, attitude and lifestyle of various luminaries since time immemorial that have made them extremely successful. These facets have helped such dignitaries in achieving tremendous amount of success in terms of financial status, innovation and contribution towards community.
Hence, after studying the life stories of various dignitaries, we have come up with 11 commandments that form secret to success of all such eminent people. These 11 commandments have been drafted after examining the principles that each of them followed to achieve success in life.
1. Take Charge of your Life
Consider the following case.
Take Responsibility Ron!
“Ron is 60 years old and runs a real estate consultancy. He is into this business from past 5 years and has a good network of agents. Despite spending hefty amount on advertisement, he is barely able to convert one lead in a month. As a consequence, he is not able to meet his monthly home and office expenditure. However, his partners or associates who are in the same line of business are performing extremely well.
Often, Ron discusses the issue with his colleagues and is observed giving reasons for his failure. Sometimes, it is the downfall in the real estate market that defends his narrative. At other times, it is the outlook and the mindset of the customer that is judged. However, Ron’s colleagues try to educate Ron with the correct ways to deal with the situation. But as usual, Ron ignores all of them. Where do you think Ron is going wrong!
Ron Defends Himself By Complaining and Blaming
Well, the biggest misconception that surrounds Ron is his belief that someone else is responsible for his success. As a result, he starts complaining and blaming circumstances or people or events instead of acknowledging his failure. He makes himself a victim and gives excuses for his non-performance. Why does Ron behave in such a way?
Well, the reasons can be many! As **Jack Canfield, the author of “The Success Principles”** puts it: “Such a behavior can be due to lack of self-awareness, fear, ignorance, need to be right and need to feel safe.”
That is to say, Ron was not ready to accept the real truth that it is he who is responsible for generating favorable results and making a difference to his life. He was trying to guard himself by giving unjustifiable reasons or excuses. Furthermore, he was even ignoring the advice given by his colleagues. He was wasting his time on trivial matters and gossiping with friends. Rather, he should have invested time in finding reasons for such less conversions and consequently working on his skills.
What You Need To Do?
Firstly, t is important to understand that you have no control over external circumstances or events. Be it bad economy, lack of government support, strong foothold of competitors or worthless demands of customers. The only thing that is under your control is your action. You need to understand that whatever happens to you, be it good or bad, you are the cause of it. The actions you take or the choices you make would decide what kind of future you would behold. Remember this quote from Elenor Roosevelt, former First Lady and wife of former American President Franklin D. Roosevelt:
“In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”
So, if you want to become successful, stop blaming people or events or circumstances for your failures. Stop complaining about the things that you certainly can change but are not willing to. Instead, take the responsibility or onus onto yourself. Keep changing your actions or behavior according to the changing circumstances. And do not stick to your current behaviors as these would not lead to different results. These are the prerequisites for creating a life of success.
2. Answer the Question: Who you are?
In other words, be self aware. This is because it is self analysis that will give you clarity about your purpose in life. Many of us often find this exercise useless. This is so because we feel that it’s impossible not to know who were are and the mettle we are made of. Well, before we go any further let us look at some numbers here.
According to a five year research program conducted by Dr. Tasha Eurich, 95% of the people think they are self aware. But only 10% – 15% actually have self awareness.
Gee! These figures paint a grim picture of the probability of knowing ourselves. And this lack of self awareness is what acts as a stumbling block in our way to success. Knowing what you do well, what you do awfully, how clearly do you understand your actions, behaviors, values, passions, emotions and their influence on others. But having a clarity of your internal state of being is not sufficient. [Dr. Tasha Eurich](http://www.tashaeurich.com/), organizational psychologist and New York Times best selling author, says that a self awareness unicorn is one who not only knows who he is but also has an understanding of how others see him and agree with who he is.
Having awareness of your internal state of being will help you get a better personal and social control. It will help you choose the career you ought be into, settle with a partner you ought to be with, take decisions you ought to take, and ignore things you ought to ignore. On the other hand, external self awareness helps you take feedback from others and understand what you can take from them.
Mahatma Gandhi, one of the greatest political and spiritual leaders of the twentieth century is a perfect example of “self aware” people. He once said:
“I am painfully conscious of my imperfections, and therein lies all the strength I possess, because it is a rare thing for a man to know his own limitations.”
It is his awareness of his values, beliefs, strengths and weaknesses that made him tread the path of truth and non – violence and get India its independence.
In his autobiography – The Story of My Experiments with Truth, he narrates similar instances that tell us the extent to which he was conscious of himself.
“I must say that, beyond occasionally exposing me to laughter, my constitutional shyness has been no disadvantage whatever. In fact, I can see that, on the contrary, it has been all to my advantage. My hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance, is now a pleasure. Its greatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of words. I have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. And I can now give myself the certificate that a thoughtless word hardly ever escapes my tongue or pen.”
From the world’s best entrepreneurs, investors to writers and artists, the success journey began from self analysis. Therefore, know your strengths if you haven’t known them yet. Be fearless to acknowledge your weaknesses. Dig deep into your beliefs and values.
3. Get Clarity on What do you Want?
As a part of its “From Purpose to Impact” program, training thousands of managers, executives and students, Harvard Business School found that _“fewer than 20% of leaders have a strong sense of their own individual purpose. Even fewer can distill their purpose into a concrete statement.”_
Further, these managers and executives could articulate their organization’s mission clearly. However, when it came to defining their individual purpose, they mostly gave generic and indefinite statements. Also, none of them had a clear cut plan to paraphrase their purpose into action. Result? Most of them restricted their desires and hence failed to achieve their high-reaching personal and professional goals.
Furthermore, philosophers have since long been debating that there exists a relationship between purpose and happiness. Victor Strecher, a behavioral scientist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, is one of them. In his book titled “Life On Purpose”, he reveals that “the strength of one’s life purpose can be measured and it correlates highly with psychological wellness and even markers of physical health and longevity.” So, first of all, what is the purpose?
What is Purpose?
William Damon, director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence, defines purpose as “a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at the same time meaningful to the self and consequential for the world beyond the self.”
Similarly, Nick and Scott from Harvard Business review define purpose as something that makes a person distinctive. They define purpose as the brand identity of an individual. According to them, it is something that is not about what a person does. Rather, an individual’s purpose is all about how he does a job and why he does that. As Mark Twain says, _“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why._
Now, if you are working hard on your current job or any business idea, it is very important to ask yourself why you are working hard on your current job or business idea? You need to have a clarity about whatever pursuit you undertake. If you are not able to understand why, your work would become monotonous and meaningless. Consequently, this would lead to stress.
Clarity of Purpose Brings Meaning
Well, people who are successful have a clear understanding as to why they are working towards something. They have a clear vision and an understanding as to how their effort will help them in realizing that vision. Further, they are completely aware that the work they are doing is in accordance with the values they behold.
Thus, when a person works on something that is meaningful, he gets completely or fully immersed into it. This state in psychology is referred to as a “flow state” or “the zone”. Such a state brings energized focus, involvement and enjoyment to the person while performing that activity.
Hence, when you are clear with the why behind your activity, your actions, thoughts, and emotions get influenced in a way that is relevant to the scope of your purpose. You feel more empowered and you certainly exert leadership.
4. Be Stubborn to do Meaningful Work
_“Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig.”_ The aforementioned quote has been picked up from Malcolm Gladwell’s famous book “Outliers”.
He explains that in order for a work to be satisfying, it needs to have three qualities: autonomy, complexity and a connection between effort and reward. Taking up a job that gives you money but fails to live up to these three qualities brings unhappiness and limited success.
Autonomy allows you to experiment and take decisions without any restriction. Even if your path is defined by a number of failures initially, there is no limiting the flow of ideas. You have control over decisions and the privilege of learning from your failures.
Likewise, work that is complex or challenging in nature brings numerous opportunities of learning and growth. It allows you to challenge your previous standards, gets you out of your comfort zone and helps you learn new skills. Regular work that is easy and unchallenging adds no value to your personal self, making you lose interest and give up. Thus, meaningful work is something that motivates you, gives you an opportunity to use your knowledge and skills and learn.
Finally, if there exists a relation between the amount of effort put in and the results achieved, the work would be satisfying in nature. If efforts do not bring in desired outcomes – such as recognition, achievement etc work becomes meaningless.
Thus, successful people are stubborn to undertake meaningful work. For they are aware of the fact that it is this meaningful work that can put them on the path of success.
5. Knowledge, Practice and Action – The Three Mandatory Weapons
What according to you are the odds of a novice soldier winning against his skilled, tactical and powerful enemy in the battlefield? The novice soldier neither has a good grip of the weapons nor the expertise of when and how to use them. And when the most indispensable part of a soldier’s armament is missing, his chances of failure can only become more and more predictable. He’s bound to lose, what come may.
Likewise, your work arena is your battlefield. Knowledge of your domain, some crazy hours of improving and polishing of your skill set and your karma are the principal weapons. Even if one of them goes off duty, winning becomes your competitor’s reality.
Let’s see how these three work. Your knowledge and practice is of no use if there is inaction or improper action to make the most of it. What’s the point of doing all the labor to write a book and not get it published, right?
Similarly, even the toughest action cannot lead you anywhere until it is backed by knowledge and practice. In fact, any action without knowledge and expertise is actually inaction. It’s like spending time, effort and money building a product not knowing how to build, why to build and for whom to build such a product?
Mahabharata, one of the two major epics of ancient India has numerous instances where it explains the importance of the weapons of knowledge, practice and Karma. Here’s one of the [Mahabharata quotes](https://zerotoeternity.com/quotes/mahabharata-quotes/) referring to the instance where king Shantanu asks his son Bhishma about the lessons he has learnt from various gurus. One of the lessons’ Bhishma makes a mention of is as follows:
“A swan can fly only with the help of two wings. One is Karma (action) and the other is knowledge. If there is only one wing, the other is useless. With the help of one, the swan cannot fly.”
We have real life examples of people abiding by this rule in the modern world. Take for instance Warren Buffett. Buffett’s success formula is beautifully expressed in one of the quotes by his partner Charlie Munger:
“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up.”
Warren Buffett spends 80 percent of his day reading and his life is an example of the endless hours of practice put in to polish his skills. He was 11 years old when he bought his first stock. Need we say more?
6. Self Control and Discipline – Hard Parts of the Game
One of the most important things that distinguish successful from unsuccessful lot is the quality of Self Discipline.
This is where most people falter. They seek the shortest and easiest ways to get what they want in life. This is because they cannot forgo their short term temptations, pleasures and happiness for doing what is right and required. In other words, they lack in self discipline. And this becomes the major cause of their failure, underachievement and unhappiness. Personal Excellence requires hours of pain, practice and giving up on short term inclinations. Becoming physically fit calls for controlling your diet and following a strict exercise regimen. Likewise healthy relationships demand sacrifices, selfless effort on the part of both the partners.
Thus, one of the key elements of success is to master the quality of self discipline and control. Achieving your goal requires discipline in terms of a strict routine which might seem monotonous. But is something that needs to be practiced each day, without fail, whether we like it or not. And this would further call for controlling your inclinations, pleasures in the short term to have windfall gains in the long term.
Successful people invest huge time in polishing their skills rather than spending time and effort in driving pleasures in the short term.
According to Brian Tracy, Cannadian – American motivational speaker and author of No Excuses – The Power of Self Discipline, 80% percent of the people give themselves excuses. They fantasize about the things they will do someday. They crib and complain and put blame on circumstances, situations and people for their current state of helplessness. So, the best way to get rid of this habit of making excuses is to develop the habit of self discipline.
7. But Secure your Bread and Butter First
Here’s a brutal truth about this whole success thing. You must not be deprived of the basic amount of money needed to buy the books or tools you need for building that knowledge and expertise. For if you fall short of that, attaining your goal becomes difficult.
Therefore, it is essential that you look for opportunities that fulfill your bread and butter for success.
But there’s a catch here. Taking up an opportunity that meets your basic needs for money takes away valuable time you need for polishing and practicing your skills.
As Malcolm Gladwell puts it in his book “Outliers” –
“You can’t be poor, because if you have to hold down a part time job on the side to help make ends meet, there won’t be time left in the day to practice enough. In fact, most people can reach 10,000 hours of practice only if they get into some kind of special program like hockey all-star squad. Or if they get some kind of extraordinary opportunity that gives them a chance to put in those hours.”
So either you have to be rich, which is not a privilege available to everyone. Or you need to figure out a way that helps you kill both birds with one stone. In other words, take up something that gives you both an opportunity to learn and practice your skills and money to support your goal.
8. Failures and Learning from Failures are Part of the Game
“We can be truly successful only at something we are willing to fail at. If we are unwilling to fail, then we are unwilling to succeed.” As Mark Manson says in his book, ‘The Subtle Art of not Giving a Fuck’, it is impossible to succeed without failing many times at a particular thing you are willing to pursue.
To know how to do a particular thing the right way, it is important to experiment, fail, learn and repeat the process till the time you find the right way.
But why do most us avoid failures? Why do we have a fear of failure? The fear of failure or the act of avoiding failure comes from our desire to being held in high regard by other people in the society. We have a mindset that disclosing our failures would stain our self esteem.
Likewise, we also have a tendency to instinctively avoid failure owing to our own lousy beliefs. Thus, this desire to maintain high self esteem accompanied by our crappy beliefs makes an unrealistic picture about our own selves. This sure would give us happiness but in reality would take away the opportunity to grow.
Thus, as Thomas Edison puts it, “ I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. So you need to keep experimenting, failing and learning from those failures to eventually get success.
9. Your Comfort Zone is ideally the Danger Zone
We all are familiar with that inner voice that at times stops us to make decisions, put forth our opinion or take up a project for the risk of failure. It cautions us each time we are about to enter the territory that is unfamiliar to us.
This inner voice guides us in the direction of our comfort zone – a place we are accustomed to, feel safe, stress free and at ease with. But this anxiety free zone is something that stops us from learning and growing. It takes us away from opportunities.
But success lies on the other side of the fence, that is beyond our comfort zone. Great achievers are always willing to face the unfamiliar side. They embrace the stress and anxiety of not having requisite knowledge, skill and understanding to undertake such tasks. They give themselves a chance to learn rather than getting scared from the unexplored and unknown.
10. Preparation Meets Opportunity
This comes from a quote said by Seneca the famous Roman Philosopher – “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
In fact, numerous hours of preparation is something that is common across all the great achievers of the world. No single word class player, athlete, writer, painter or music composer was made without years of practice.
The world class German composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart came up with one of his first masterpieces at the age of 21. By this time he had already been composing musical compositions for almost 10 years. His earliest pieces of compositions were either written by his father or were taken from the works of other composers. Thus, his years of practice is something that made him come up with his maiden elite composition, making him the world class composer of the classical era.
Likewise, Bill Gates too became a world class computer programmer after seizing the opportunity to work on computer in late 1960’s. This was the time when everyone did not have the privilege of having a computer to work on. He was able to put in eight hours of programming each day for almost 10 years by working on side projects at school and college. He relatively had a better exposure to software development that made him one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the world.
Thus, you should be so well prepared in your respective domain so that the moment you come across any valuable chance in your life, you are in a position to convert into opportunity. In case you are not well prepared, that chance would just act as another prospective event that might just get overlooked easily. Remember, that whenever you come across golden chances in life, those chances can turn into your favor only with the help of your preparation. People who are extremely successful are able to convert those golden chances into opportunities because they are way ahead in their preparation relative to those who are average or below average performers.
11. Keep it on the Loop
Success is not possible without implementing these commandments consistently and repeatedly. These commandments must become a part of your life. Knowing and reading about these values is easy. We’ve all been doing that endlessly since eternity. But the challenge lies in implementing these values and making them an indispensable part of your life.
What come may, in thick or thin, Bill Gates, Mozart, Warren Buffet and all the successful people never abandoned these values. Even at the peak of their careers, they continued practicing these commandments to beat their own standards and look forward to achieving even massive milestones.