I’ve discussed in a previous column how I believe that the traditional definition of success—wealth, power, fame—is defunct. A recent survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Strayer University showed that success is no longer about material possessions and worldly recognition; it is about happiness.
This not only changes our perception of what success means, but how we push ourselves to dare to believe in our greatness and thus achieve our goals. When we replace our negative thoughts with positive affirmations; when we release our sense of entitlement and build up our self-esteem; when we learn to stick to our decisions and follow them through, only then can we achieve the success that we ask for. This is why I put together my ten steps to success, fueled by more than two decades of experience leading teams, and mentoring and guiding our LegalShield associates. Starting the day by reminding ourselves of these steps will help set our mind in the right direction.
Step 1: Set apart your unique strengths from “commodity” strengths: Your unique strengths tend to be your values; you are great because you dare to be courageous, brave and trustworthy. These are the greatest strengths one can possess because they are the most lasting and enduring. They are also emotionally engaging, and are what people will remember about you. Be impeccable with your word and speak with conviction.
Step 2: Change occurs when you become what you are, not when you try to become what you’re not. Life will throw you a curveball every now and then, expose your weaknesses, and frustrate and embarrass you in spite of your best efforts to overcome every single one. Laugh it off, and smile instead of frown. You’ve now added a powerful new weapon to your arsenal of leadership tools: self-effacing humor. The great Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You don’t grow up until you have your first good laugh at yourself.” Dust off, and get back to your strengths; amplify them, nurture them.
Step 3: Accept your strengths as gifts and nourish them. You are a unique, powerful force to be reckoned with. Protect your territory, and be vigilant about tending the fruits of your labor. Be your own constant gardener and don’t take these gifts for granted.
Step 4: Don’t listen to their words. Watch their feet. In dealing with others, we know that words may tell a story that can be either true or false. But actions have meanings that cannot be falsified.
Step 5: Watch your direction with people and theirs with you. You attract what you ask for. Unlike magnets, in which the power of attraction works between opposite forces, successful people surround themselves with high-energy, highly positive people. Make sure you pay attention to people’s direction—are they flowing with or against you?—and clear the way for people who take positive steps towards you.
Step 6: Prioritize. A successful leader always finds the time for what matters. It is one of the reasons they’ve risen to the top, by identifying the holes that needs to be filled; setting the goals that need to be attained; and creating the roles that will bring these goals within reach.
Step 7: Develop a task force mentality. Different people have different skills. Ask yourself where your efforts will yield the highest impact, and do the same for your team members. You will get the most done by allocating the right skills to the appropriate task.
Step 8: Don’t be deceived by perceived trade-offs. Learn to differentiate between what is authentic and what is only perceived that way, and adjust your behavior accordingly.
Step 9: Realize that permanence is proof of adaptability. Practice does not make perfect; practice makes permanent. Establishing good habits is hard; maintaining them is harder. Don’t give up; it will take time and effort. We’ve all heard the adage that it takes 21 days form a habit, but consistent excellence may take weeks or months to achieve. Your will to succeed can only come from maintaining a positive attitude and demanding accountability of yourself. Each new skill you acquire, each new approach you master, is an additional brick to pave your way to success.
Step 10: Don’t downplay the meaning of your vision and create meaningful, actionable steps to achieve it. Success grows from a vision and is attained through action and affirmation. For a company like LegalShield, the vision of our founder Harland Stonecipher, who believed in equal access to legal protection, lead him to pioneer a new way to insure people against legal issues. His vision lives in our hearts and guides our actions. It empowers us deeply and is a strong driver of success.
Jeff Bell is CEO of LegalShield, the leading provider of affordable legal plans and identity theft solutions for individuals, families and small businesses, covering more than 1.63 million families, individuals and businesses across all 50 American states and four Canadian Provinces.