Successful People Have One Thing in Common

It’s impossible to finish anything that you don’t start. That’s the one thing for certain that all people who have accomplished something have in common…they started. 

Starting may have involved risk. Primarily the risk of failure. Successful people started anyway. Starting may, in fact likely did, mean ending something else. That ending may have felt like a loss. It’s tough to start when it feels like it will result in an immediate loss. Successful people started anyway. 

Less successful people, those who don’t understand that never taking a risk is the riskiest thing they can do, too often use their time to criticize the efforts of the people trying to accomplish something. 

I sometimes wonder if they use their criticism of others to shield themselves from the feeling of loss that comes with knowing they didn’t have the courage to even try. 

Knowing that success can only come from trying and understanding that trying often ends with something less than complete success I encourage people to make failing (at least temporarily) a regular part of their lives. 

I’d much prefer to make an effort that results in failure than to live my days wondering “what if.” Failing gives me another chance to start again, another chance at success. Not even attempting to succeed gives me nothing. It’s the same for every person reading this post. 

What we think of as failure isn’t failure unless we decide to not trying again. What we think of as failure is really a lesson in how not to do something…so long as we try again. 

Every person you think of as successful has attempted something that ended with less than complete success. They could have stopped and accepted failure. But they began again, and again and again until whatever they were attempting ended in complete success. 

I can assure you they had detractors along the way. People who criticized them and their efforts. They ignored the “can’t do” crowd and listened only to people who said “you can do it.” If they couldn’t find “can do” people then they told themselves… “I can do this.”

The quote below from President Theodore Roosevelt expresses these thoughts better than I ever could. One modern day caveat about this quote. I firmly believe that if he were alive today President Roosevelt would adjust his quote to use less inclusive language. Today we know that every human being born is endowed with the potential for greatness. There are circumstances in life that can make it more difficult for some to achieve that greatness. Successful people however make sure that none of those circumstances are of their own making. 

Here’s the quote.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Do not be a timid soul. The only way to achieve success is to try. The goal in life is not to arrive at death’s door safely, it is to accomplish something along the way. 

It is with absolute certainty that I say you can accomplish much if only you’re willing to try. 

Playing it Safe

If turbulent times teach us anything it’s that there is no such thing as “playing it safe.” Some of the “safest” people I know found themselves out of work. They were the “steady as she goes” types, making sure to never rock the boat. They had themselves a nice looking 401k until the stock market tanked and then just to be “safe” they sold much of it at rock bottom prices.

This has always been true but it’s even more so in challenging times… if you want to be safe then take a risk or two. Not crazy, ill considered risk but well thought out and planned risk.

Taking risks minimizes the possibility of looking back and asking, “what if?” Even if you fail, you walk away with more experience and knowledge. Lots of people would say that taking risks in one area of your life will lead to success in other areas of your life as well. I agree with those people.

Research says that people who take risks are far more likely to achieve their goals and live a more satisfying life.

Taking a well considered risk helps you stand out from the crowd of “safers” that settle for the status quo. Leaders accept risk as the price of success, they know that “good enough” is a direct path to mediocrity.

No matter what you hope to achieve in life taking a risk is a necessary step in actively pursuing success. Very seldom does anything of value fall into your lap. You must pursue it and with that pursuit comes risk.

Accept the fact that the appearance of failure also comes from taking a risk but also understand that appearance of failure is only a mirage. It doesn’t become real until you stop taking risks that can lead to your ultimate success.

If you have the courage, and yes it takes courage, to accept the risk that comes with pushing yourself to achieve your full potential then success will likely be yours. If you can’t muster the mindset that playing it safe leads to less then you’ll just have to settle for less than you know you deserve.

Take a well considered risk today and your chances for well earned success tomorrow go way way up!