We have all read countless articles on how to get rich, how to think like rich people, what it takes to be successful in all manner and shape and form. At one point it all starts to feel like gibberish. There is an over-supply of self-help books, autobiographies and memoirs, written by successful people to share their recipes for success and their incredible rags-to-riches stories. I am not going to suggest that those books are worthless; they can be inspirational.
But the real question is whether there really is a formula for getting rich? Personally, I think not! If that formula existed whoever had it would have been not just the richest man/woman in the world but a God. I take the absence of such a ‘God’ as evidence that a one-size-fits-all, plug and play formula for success does not exist. The question then is, what are the most practical things each of us can learn and emulate about success? Below are my thoughts on what I think everyone should know and do to improve their odds.
Luck as a primary ingredient
Well, this is not news to anyone, but necessary to repeat nonetheless. Most books – self-help, biographies, memoirs – often forget to mention that the main ingredient for becoming rich and for achieving otherworldly success is luck. It is important to keep this in mind because most of us think luck is when something happens by mere chance. But, that is not entirely true. Luck is not just something that happens to you; you can do something about it. That is where the popular saying ‘to make your own luck’ comes from. So, what can you do about luck? First and foremost, we must keep stay alert, we must always on the lookout for luck. But, contrary to popular belief, luck does not come ready-made and nicely wrapped in a package labelled ‘luck’. It usually presents itself in the form of opportunities. To be lucky, you must become good at spotting and exploiting opportunities.
And how do you become good at spotting and exploiting opportunities? You build the right tools. You develop the right attitudes, mannerisms, behaviours, and habits. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of such tools but below I will give you of the six that will be good to get you started.
What you are matters more than who you are
What I mean by this is that some attitudes, mannerisms, behaviours and habits are most compatible with success than others. The good news is, these can be learned. No matter who you are, you can train yourself. However, I feel obliged to insert a disclaimer here: training yourself to do all the things I discuss below will not automatically make you successful. But it will certainly improve your odds of succeeding.
1. Be curious.
This is an essential characteristic that will help you spot opportunities. So how do you train yourself to become curious? You must always ask ‘why’ and ‘how’. Why did this happen, and how does this work? You can also become curious by finding joy in experimentation. Be willing to try new things, to make a fool of yourself, to be ridiculed, to fail. Experimentation is an addition to the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions. Experimentation is also asking ‘Why not’ and ‘How else’. Why not add that and see what happens? How else can this be done?
2. Be grateful.
Being grateful leads to happiness, fulfilment and a positive attitude. Luckily, you can teach yourself to be grateful by doing simple things like writing down 3-5 things you are grateful for every day. Over time, your brain will automatically seek out the positives from any situation. This is an essential quality for building resilience. And, without resilience, you will struggle to succeed because the road to success is littered with challenges and setbacks.
3. Be empathetic.
Human beings are social animals. Success comes from our interaction with other people. Being empathetic is essential for building your social resilience and likability. Yes, some jerks succeed in life, but the odds are always in favour of nice guys. Teach yourself to be empathetic by doing random acts of kindness every other day, once a week or whatever frequency suits you. That could be sending an unsolicited thank you text or email to someone you work with, buying a homeless person dinner, etc
4. Be decisive.
People who succeed usually make timely but not rushed decisions. You should teach yourself to make considered decisions quickly. You should also be open to changing your decision but only after careful consideration. So, make decisions quickly and change them slowly. The flip side of that is a recipe for failure – in other words, people who procrastinate and take longer to make decisions only to turn around and change their decisions quickly and often, are less likely to succeed. Train yourself daily by making quick decisions about small things like what to wear, what to have for dinner etc. and stick with the decisions. That will train your brain and will translate easily to big decisions at work or in business.
5. Listen more than you speak.
This is self-explanatory. Remember every time you open your mouth to speak you are not learning anything new. You can teach yourself to be a good listener by how you respond in conversations. In conversation, always acknowledge what the other person says by repeating it to them. Add to their point if you think they missed something useful. Disagree with them respectfully. Explain why you disagree without making it personal. Learning these patterns of conversation will make you a better listener. Another easy hack for making yourself a good listener is to always remember that every person you talk to knows something you don’t. That should make want to listen to them more
6. Read more.
If you are a business person, don’t read only business books. If you are into nutrition, don’t read only nutrition books. When it comes to reading, variety is more important than volume. Our brain is at its creative best when we make connections between different things, concepts and subjects. It is at these points of convergence that we push the frontiers of possibilities, and it is often where we find new ideas and new solutions. You don’t have to make a conscious effort to make the connections. The wider you read, the more likely that your brain will naturally start to conceive and conceptualise such connections.
This is not about looking good, having a six pack or any of that. Exercise requires discipline and sustained effort. In addition to physical benefits of being fit, exercise also builds your mental resilience and stamina. It teaches you to stick with it, to push harder when the going gets tough. That is the kind of mentality that you will need to succeed.
The list above only scratches the surface. There are more things you can do to improve your odds of success. But the few things tweaks I suggested above are immediate. You can start doing them today!