Mark Twain said that to succeed in life you need two things: ignorance and confidence. Fortunately, his observation was more witty than accurate!
Success is far more likely to visit those who know how to manage their own minds and who show courage regardless of their confidence levels. Let’s delve into how they do it…
1. Adopt a Growth Mindset
Successful people understand that it takes time to master things. They give themselves permission to fail. They take risks and use mistakes to lever themselves upwards, rather than beat themselves down. Susan Dweck has famously called this a “growth mindset”.
When you next fail (which, if you’re breathing, you will do!) give yourself a pat on the back for trying, work out what you can do differently next time, then keep moving onwards and upwards.
2. Claim Control
You can’t control luck, but you can definitely control you. Successful people focus their time and energy on the things they can change, while accepting the things they can’t. When good luck shines on them, they make the most of the opportunities. When bad luck dumps on them, they learn what they can and figure out a new way forward. Psychologists call this belief in one’s own agency an Internal Locus of Control.
A great tool that we often show people is this C.I.A. Circles exercise. Next time you’re struggling with a problem, list what aspects of it you can control, what aspects you may be able to influence and what aspects you need to accept. Pour most of your energies into those things listed in your sphere of control.
3. Delay Gratification & Avoid Avoidance.
High achievers are great at sacrificing immediate pleasure to nab the bigger prize. They moderate their impulses and withstand temptation. Research has linked this ability to delay gratification with numerous markers of wellbeing and achievement.
Successful people travel the course that matters to them, even if they have to take uncomfortable feelings along for the ride. In fact, they often view uncomfortable emotions in a positive way, thinking about how it strengthens them to learn to manage those emotions.
Next time you want to avoid something because of how it will make you feel, build your determination by asking yourself these questions:
4. Recognise That Success Isn’t a Zero-Sum Game
Sometimes people resent other’s success because they perceive themselves as competing for a scarce resource. When someone else shines they think it dims their own light. This brings pain and diverts focus from confidence-building activities.
If you feel resentment when someone does something awesome, remind yourself that it doesn’t mean they’ve sucked up all the awesome! Even if you have lost out to them (e.g., they got the promotion you wanted), that doesn’t mean your potential has diminished. It just means that you’ll now follow a different path to reaching your goals. And it will likely be a path that’s better suited to you and your strengths.
5. Count Your Blessings
Rather than worrying about what you don’t have, start noticing what you do have. What wouldn’t you want to lose in your life? Your health? The people who matter to you? Your humour?
Our acquisitional culture exhorts us to think about what we want to get. Problem is, there’s always more that we could have so this focus on getting is like trying to fill a bottomless pit. It creates a painful sense of deficit.
By giving attention to what we have, we increase our levels of life satisfaction. Research shows that keeping a gratitude diary boosts wellbeing across a range of physical and psychological factors.
Different approaches to keeping a diary work for different people. Some people keep a daily record, while some only write weekly. Some prefer to create a short list and, while others take a more literary approach. Test different approaches and see what works best for you. The key thing is to find a rhythm and stick to it!
Hopefully these tips have sparked ideas about where you need to focus in order to boost your success. How about writing your ideas down now and making a date with yourself to review your progress in a few weeks’ time?