Stop considering “success” in enormous terms.
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Why is this step mandatory? Because otherwise you set yourself up for a failure. The realistic truth is that very, very few people are capable of an enormous success. Do you know how many billionaires there are? About 2,755. That’s 0.000035% of the world population.
And hardly all the billionaires are successful in life — they are surely successful in making money. But how many of them have a lasting marriage? Take this into account, and the success ratio shrinks to a ridiculously miniscule number.
Enormous Success Frightens
When you think of success as something grand — starting a multi-million-dollar company, winning a golden medal at the Olympics, publishing a world-wide bestseller (you know, the one with 1-million+ copies sold), inventing a cure for cancer, and so on — you put a foot on a brake before you even start. Unless, of course, you are one of the very, very few who are capable of such feats right now.
But this article is for 99.999965% of average persons. For common folks, the thought of such a grand success is downright paralyzing; it’s incomprehensible. You, I, we all simply know we cannot do that.
You cannot fly by flapping your arms. You cannot breathe under the water. You cannot be awake for longer than 200 hours at a time.
And you cannot succeed. Not at SUCH a scale.
So, you don’t even try.
Mind the Gap
Even if you will attempt to attain such a great success, your effort will be halfhearted. Well, maybe at the very beginning, you will be enthusiastic, motivated and full of energy.
But then, the gap between your current situation and your goal will loom over your shoulder like a giant glacier. You will get frustrated. Even if you keep moving forward, the time horizon necessary to achieve what you want will overwhelm you. It will seem like you’re stuck in one place and don’t inch forward at all.
Even though you will be moving toward your objective, your emotions will sabotage your efforts.
You cannot be thriving and overwhelmed or frustrated at the same time!
What Can You Do to Stop Considering “Success” in Enormous Terms?
I have several tips for you. The most impactful, I think, is the first one.
1. Stop Being a Sucker for Success Stories.
I mean, the ones occupying media headlines. The ones spelling out “million followers,” “millions in revenue,” “world records beaten,” and so on. The only exception is, when those stories are somehow relatable for you.
Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.”
— Jim Rohn
If you are a divorced single mom, and there is a story about a divorced lady who built her business while raising kids on her own, get inspired by her story.
If you are from a big city ghetto, and you see a story about someone who succeeded with similar upbringing — get inspired.
If you haven’t even finished a high school and you find a story about someone who succeeded without school — get inspired.
But if you cannot relate to the hero of the story, avoid it like a plague. It will only make you think you are somehow inadequate and incapable of success.
2. Start Being a Sucker for Relatable Stories.
And look for them in different sources. There are plenty of great success stories around. Instead of following viral stuff with a gazillion views, start looking around in your vicinity — both geographical and social.
Success in the knowledge economy comes to those who know themselves — their strengths, their values, and how they best perform.”
— Peter F. Drucker
You can find amazing support groups. I’m a member of several author groups. Author stories are SO relatable for me. I cannot even count how many folks started in similar circumstances as I had begun — having a day job, and dreaming about a different life.
I’m also a member of groups for online, small-business owners because this is who I am.
Are you a person of color who wants to start a business? Are you a single mom? An immigrant? An aspiring author? An employee of a non-profit who wants to change the world? There are groups out there just perfect for you.
What is more, in the groups like those, you don’t just passively absorb content. You can mingle with people whom you look up to. You can get to know at the personal level, making their stories even more relatable for you.
And you can start believing, you can succeed too.
3. Set Your Own Success Standards.
I’m successful beyond my wildest dreams. I started publishing books in a foreign language, and I sold about 80,000 copies of them! It took me eight years and eighteen books published.
An editor of a big magazine would have rolled on the floor laughing if I tried to sell him such a story. Eight years? Not a single book sold even 15,000 copies? I didn’t even fight a cancer in the meantime? Pshaw, it’s not shiny enough!
Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.”
— Jim Rohn
But it is a story good enough for me. In 2012, when I got this idea of writing for a living, I had no clue what it takes to be a writer. Back then, I had never earned a dime from writing in my whole life.
As long as my books keep selling and keep helping people to change their lives, I consider my writing a successful endeavor.
You also should set your own success standards. You don’t need to employ hundreds of people. Maybe half a dozen employees is enough to create your dream lifestyle? You don’t need to have a mansion to thrive. Maybe you are single, and a small apartment with one guest bedroom is success of your size?
Don’t let society or other people enforce their success standards on you.
4. Remember that Real Success Is Multi-Dimensional.
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So what, if you have a great family, but you cannot feed your own kids? So what, if you have a prestigious position, but your family is in shambles? So what, if people in your church appreciate your efforts so much, but your marriage is going to end up with a divorce?
The biggest determinants of success are consistency and effort.”
— Tanner Baze
Yes, single-minded focus is a great success attribute. But it can also take you too far and you will end up in one of the above scenarios — wealthy, but with your family disintegrated; with golden medals, but with no health; with social impact, but no money to afford a decent lifestyle for your family.
So, follow your own success narration, not the one trumpeted by media. You are a holistic being, so take care of every area of your life. And most importantly, you are a social being, so never neglect close relationships.
5. Focus on Small Steps, Today.
Enormous success will follow. This is how you actually achieve anything: you set huge goals, but you break them down into smaller steps; into the pieces manageable at the everyday level.
Success is not perfection. Success is progress.”
— Darren Hardy
The world is full of bigmouths, especially nowadays, when they have so many avenues available to be loud. However, not the noise, but action gets things done. There is nothing better than consistent action to generate success of all shapes and sizes. Thus yes, have a big vision, but also have a plan for the things you can do today. And do them.
When you consider fulfilling your daily action a success, you already are successful. You don’t need golden medals or a multimillion business.
Scale down your thinking about success to here and there, and you will eventually succeed big. Do your workout today. Make a cold call today. Write two pages for your book today. Go on a date with your spouse today. Enormous fitness, business, impact and relationship will follow.
The problem with the huge success stories in media is not that they are false. The real problem is that they don’t properly illustrate how everyday grind contributed to the final results. Hence, you don’t think about success in terms of everyday grind, but in terms of one-time enormous achievement.
The definition of the word “success” doesn’t indicate the scope of the achievement: the achieving of the results wanted or hoped for.
It says about the results you “hoped for.” It may be your two pages written today, or it may be one million copies of your book sold.
Unfortunately, when all things you hope for are enormous, you spend a lot of time frustrated, in the process of getting what you wanted or hoped for. Years and decades.
You are making yourself, and those around you, miserable. You are also very prone to overlook deficiencies in other areas of your life focused on pursuing your grand scheme.
Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”
— Jim Rohn
Stop considering “success” in enormous terms. Consider your daily action — when completed and done well — a success. You will enjoy your life so much more. And you will put in building blocks of an enormous success.
You will grow along the way. You will become capable of huge things. Consistently apply basic fundamentals, and the great success in your life will be just a matter of time.
Originally published at Medium.