successThere’s a fundamental problem with the approach most people take to become successful at what they do: they focus too much on skills and too little on their attitude toward success. As business owners we spend a lot of time learning about marketing, sales, finances and operations. But how much time do we spend studying (and applying) the science of success?

How Do You Spend Your Time?

There’s overwhelming proof that 80% of success in golf depends on how good you are at the “short game” (i.e. getting the ball in the hole once it’s in the green.) So why do most golf players spend 80% of their time at driving ranges trying to get longer and longer shots?
In other words, if you knew that there were a better way to spend your time to be successful, would you take that route or ignore it?

Why Attitude Is More Important than Skill

I see this all the time:

  • Entrepreneurs who are very self-confident and go-getters are more successful than their counterparts who have read every single business book but rarely take action.
  • Sporting teams that are united, committed and motivated beat teams that might be technically better.

What Attitude Do You Need to Be Successful?

Although there are many personal attributes that can be found in successful people, these are the ones I’ve noticed the most:

  • Persistence. I’m a good rugby player because I’ve been working my butt off for many years. I never miss a practice, no matter how cold it is or much much it’s raining. I’m a horrible guitar player because I play for five minutes every couple of weeks.
  • Attitude Toward Failure. Michael Jordan got it right: “I failed hundreds of time. And that’s why I succeeded.” Failure is not a big deal: you try something, it doesn’t work and you try something else. The way you perceive failure has a lot to do with how well you do in life. Fail all the time and tell everyone about your failures. You might believe they’ll think less of you, but I found that most people love you for who you are and not for how much you accomplish. In fact, I never trust someone who always talks about their successes and never about their failures.
  • Sense of Purpose. Money is great. I love money. But if money is your main motivator, when things go to hell (and everything eventually does) you won’t have the energy to work on turning things around. Build something great and leave a legacy. When there’s purpose behind your mission, you won’t even see it as “work”.
  • Positive Attitude. Are you the person who’s always seeing why something won’t work? Or are you the person seeing opportunity where others only see problems? Do you spend most of your time with a smile in your face or do people try to avoid you as much as they can? Are you always thanking the people in your life for the good things they do or are you always looking for what they’re doing wrong so you can tell them how to improve?
  • Self-Confidence. Self-confidence is a funny thing. When I started my first business I was full of it and I did great. Then my second business failed and I lost all my self-confidence. That’s why my third and fourth businesses failed as well. Then, with my fifth business I had a small win and that gave me my self-confidence back. Since then, it’s been a cycle of accomplishing things, which increased my self-confidence, which helped me accomplish more, which increased my self-confidence even more, and so on. When you don’t have the self-confidence you need, a small win is all you need to start turning things around. The cycle of self-confidence and success is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Asking for Help. Contrary to the popular belief, successful people aren’t lonely rangers; they ask for help all the time. I have three mentors and an extensive network of other entrepreneurs I constantly reach out to when I need help. And of course, when they need my help, I’m always there for them. Don’t fall in the trap of thinking that in order for your success to count, you have to do everything on your own. Let go of your ego; it’s one of the best things you’ll ever do.
  • Following Through. This one is so obvious that I almost didn’t include it, but it amazes me how many people don’t follow through with their commitments. When you go to a meeting, show up on time (or even better, a few minutes early) and come prepared. Dress well. When you tell someone something will be done by Wednesday, finish it by Wednesday (or by Tuesday if you can.) When you say you’re going to do something, do it!
  • Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone. Successful people are always doing things they’ve never done before. That’s how they grow. The best way to never accomplish anything in life is not ever doing anything that doesn’t feel comfortable. Push yourself out of your comfort zone all the time. This is what keeps life fun and exciting.