The best products aren’t the ones that sell the most. The best music isn’t what you hear on the radio. The best movies aren’t the ones you go to see.
So why do you buy the products you buy?
Why do you see the movies you see?
You see the movies that are popular and buy name brand clothing because success is more about social influence than quality. Once someone is successful, it’s easier for them to remain successful because people rely on credibility to make decisions. We’re lazy and would rather someone else make our decisions for us. We trust what the masses, and experts, say.
So if someone is in a position of success, we believe their work must be good — even if it’s really not. Our perception alters our experience. If we think something will be good, it generally is…for us.
The great part is, we can use this understanding to achieve our goals quickly. Radically fast. And it doesn’t matter how audacious those goals are.
Here’s the process:
1.) Start With “Why”
If you’re not motivated to do something, you won’t do it. You’ll quit.
We need something to work toward that is meaningful to us. For example, my father-in-law was easily able to lose 20 pounds for his daughter’s wedding. But unless he has something like that to work toward, his eating habits aren’t pretty.
Starting with why creates the vision. It’s after you have the vision that you determine the medium through which to achieve it.
Far too many people start with the medium and get stuck. Without the motivation behind their activity, most people fizzle out and “get a real job,” or simply “don’t have time for that kind of stuff.”
But once you have a strong enough motivation — your why — you won’t quit. You’ll keep going, even if you have to change the medium through which your vision is manifest. You’ll be willing to change the “how” until you get it right.
It might take decades. It might require switching jobs or hobbies or whatever it is you do 100 times. You may look like a non-committed fool.
The truth is, you’re committed to the vision and willing to look foolish.
2.) Decide What You Want To Do
Thomas Edison’s vision to bring light to people was manifest in inventing a light bulb. He may have been brilliant, but by the time he had failed thousands of times to create the light bulb, statistically, he was bound to find the solution he was looking for.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” he said.
So many people start stuff, like a business, only to quit when it gets difficult. The problem with quitting your current project only to start another is that you’ll probably just quit the next one too. The problem isn’t usually the project. It’s you.
If you put as much work into your current project as you want to in your next project, you’ll succeed big rather than continuously quitting.
Sadly, people are chronic quitters. Our decision-making muscles have atrophied. We start a diet and find ourselves sneaking sugary sweets an hour later. We commit to our new pursuit but quit once things start getting complicated.
This whole quitting business has crushing psychological consequences.
Cognitive dissonance is the mental stress we experience when we experience internal conflict. When our beliefs and actions don’t match, we sense our own hypocrisy and contradiction. It eats us alive from the inside.
So, when you decide you want to do something, stick to it. The definition of decision is cutting away all other possibilities.
3.) Persist Through Failures Until You Build Momentum
Whether you want to invent a light bulb, write a New York Times best-seller, transform the healthcare system, find your soulmate, or become President of the United States, your chances increase exponentially based on the amount of attempts you take.
You just have to want it bad enough to fail a thousand times. Once you want something that bad, you will take the required risks and acquire sufficient (not necessarily optimal) skills.
Which is why you must respect anyone who has succeeded big — they’ve chosen to play a different game than most. That decision is far more important and powerful than their ability to perform their craft. It is that decision — to succeed at the level they choose — which makes their work worth noticing.
They weren’t overnight successes. They failed until they succeeded. But one thing is for certain, they decided the direction they would fail toward. Thus, their failure moved them in a specific and planned direction.
Seth Godin calls this process The Dip. When you start anything, there is joy in newness. There is also progress because when you start anything, it’s usually pretty easy. But after a while, it gets hard. And that’s where most people quit.
But not you.
You’re going to fail 10,000 times. Because statistically, at some point, you will succeed. Thanks Edison. Remember, there’s no such thing as failure — only feedback. Quit being so hard on yourself.
At some point along the way, you’ll begin to convince yourself you’re going to succeed. You’ll experience enough small wins to begin building confidence. The people who said you were crazy will start to believe you.
You’ll start to believe yourself. You tell yourself something enough times, you begin to believe it.
4.) Develop Radical Confidence
Read 1,000 books on wealth creation, success, and psychology and you’ll get the same underlying themes.
How do you change a person?
Change the internal dialogue in their head and change what they believe about their future.
The conversations we have in our head reflect our beliefs. Once you get a person to start talking optimistically to themselves about their goals, you bet your britches those goals will be real in no time.
So, while you persistently fail (i.e., feedback) over and over toward your dreams, your confidence will begin to increase. Your internal dialogue will change.
After enough small wins, you’ll know, not think, but know that you’re going to achieve the dream of your choosing.
Once that confidence happens, you will be a new person. As they say, the universe will conspire to make your decisions happen. You’ll attract mentors, money, opportunities, whatever you want.
5.) Leverage Your Position
No matter how small your wins are, leverage your position. You have a high school diploma? Leverage your position!
You know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy? Leverage your position!
You get an article featured on some unknown blog? Leverage your position!
You have $100? Leverage your position!
Sadly, most people can’t stop looking at the other side of the fence. They fail to realize the brilliant possibilities currently available to them.
This is bad stewardship.
There are people you know who have information you need.
There are people you know who have capital you can use.
There are people you know who can connect you with people you should know.
Instead of wanting more, how about you utilize what you already have? Until you do, more won’t help you. Actually, it will only continue hurting you until you learn to earn something for yourself. It’s easy to want other people to do it for you. True success comes by taking ownership of your life. No one cares about your success more than you do.
Your current position is ripe with abundant opportunity. Leverage it.
Once you gain another inch of position, leverage that for all it’s worth. Soon you’ll find yourself in incredible positions and collaborating with your heroes.
Success is based on choice.
Success is based on having and maintaining a motivation worth fighting for. It’s based on believing what others might call a fantasy. It’s based on leveraging your position and maintaining the momentum of every step you take.
If you resonated with this article, please subscribe to my personal blog. You will get a free copy of my eBook Slipstream Time Hacking, which blends ideas from astrophysics, psychology, and entrepreneurship. This article was orignally published on The Observer and has been republished here with permission.