Enough of these “how to be successful” lists

Success Isn’t a Mystery, It’s a Process

Success has a guise to it — it seems like a secret, doesn’t it?

We put success on a pedestal, like the people who reach it are at a point that we can’t connect to get to. We aspire to it, but it seems as though there are secrets hiding the points between where we are and where we aim to be.

There aren’t.

There is no secret. It’s a process.

There are a million list-posts telling you what you should be doing to be more successful. I aim to put an end to that noise.


So here it is. Here is the process, the un-shrouded path to your own success:

What do you actually need to do to be successful?

1. Define yourself — What’s your voice? What matters to you? Who is your audience? How can you reach them? What impact do you want to have in the world? How will you gauge success?

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why” — Mark Twain

Answer these and write them down — I’m not kidding, they need to be in black and white. Hold yourself accountable to yourself, what you stand for and what you do to support it will be the defining factor towards your success and subsequently your own self worth.

2. Set concrete goals — How you gauge success will be the KPI of your life (key performance indicator — like growth for a startup or revenue for a real business). The only way to achieve something is to first know what you are setting out to achieve.

Like the quote from one of my favorite books,

“All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention, if only one can first conceive of doing so.” — Cloud Atlas

You can transcend any state, but you have to know where you want to be, what you want to accomplish, and you have to hold yourself accountable to that.

3. Know in your heart that you can succeed — This is one of the reasons “modeling” in NLP is so successful (whether you believe it works or not), not because you follow the path of someone else, but because someone else created the path to the success that you want — you now know it is possible. You have to have faith in yourself that you can create your own path towards where you want to be.

4. Force yourself to act — Set stakes. “Negative stakes” work best. A negative stake means “if I don’t accomplish ‘xxx’, ‘yyy’ will happen.” You don’t want “yyy” to happen, so make “yyy” a horrific outcome — you will work your ass off to make sure “yyy” never sees the light of day, kill “yyy” be xxx. (‘yyy’ could be something like donating to a horrible cause, or something you don’t believe in. For more on this, check out Tim Ferriss’s 4 steps to learn any skill)

5. Help others along the way — You will never believe how much this will impact your end-success. As humans we are only as successful as we make each other — everything is based off of a perception of man, we are only as “successful” as we believe and others believe. Ultimately, in every circumstance, we need people, and people need us. Provide value and give relentlessly when you can, with what you can. First define yourself so people know what kind of person you are. For those who want to be associated with you, engage with them in as many ways as you find possible. You can be a guiding light in their life, and they can be the link to your success — you have no idea what kind of impact a stranger can have on your life, you need only help them.


Really there isn’t a “solution” to success, it finds everyone in their own unique way, but seeing as we are all unique people — defining ourselves becomes the cornerstone to “finding” the process of our own success.

We are all what we make of ourselves. Make yourself. Define your voice as a person — what you stand for, who you are, what your style is, make it better, act towards improvement, force yourself to act. All of the thought in the world means nothing without action to back it. And help others along the way.

We all want to be more successful — professionally, emotionally, in our relationship, in our health, at our sport — it’s all the same. It’s not a secret. It takes a goal, determination, self-realization and self-belief. You can do it, it’s not a secret, it’s a process.

Make yourself.

Title Photo Credit: flickr
Photo Credit: 1, 2