What does it take to be a successful business owner?
And even if your goal is not to own a business, what does it take to be successful at your career?
When looking at what it takes to succeed, we tend to focus on the personality traits that entrepreneurs or innovators have in common. But personality aside, it also takes certain skills to stay on top of your game.
While personality is harder to change, skills and habits can be learned. Here are some of these skills you can practice to be effective and achieve greatness:
1. Simplify your decision-making process
After becoming a business owner, I realized I was suffering from decision fatigue. I learned to cut out unnecessary decisions, such as deciding what to wear every morning. I wear black on most days, and usually am in a tee shirt and jeans combo. The brain space and energy I save can then be channeled to more important things, like my business and thinking of creative solutions for clients.
Wondering why you’re struggling to manage your small business, while successful people manage many businesses at once? They have figured out how to optimize their decision-making process, prioritizing only what is important. We all have 24 hours, and it’s how we use them that counts.
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2. Create rhythm in your work day
Many successful people have a regular rhythm to their workday. For example, what works for me is handling clients in the morning, attending to my team in the afternoon, and creative work in the evening. I get the meetings and conversations out of the way earlier in the day, so I can spend the evenings on tasks that call for a lot of focus and thinking.
Of course, what works for one person will not work for another. It is so important to be aware of your own body and how it works, to know what rituals will work for you.
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3. Don’t neglect your health
You can spend thousands on the latest software or a delegate pass to the biggest conference in your industry, but all those investments can go to waste if you are not investing in your health.
Top performers all have their health hacks and rituals to keep them in top shape, as their work demands a lot from them. Whether you take supplements or ginseng, drink bulletproof coffee, do yoga, or sit in infrared saunas followed by ice cold showers, your health routine is just as important a part of optimizing your performance, both physically and mentally.
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Your mental health is also a priority and something to look after. If you find that you are slowly loosing the love for your job or yourself or struggling with depression, there is no shame in seeking help through counselling sessions, or sharing your worries with your closest friends and family. Designer James Greig shares his experience of how he overcame creative burnout and depression through his talk here.
4. Know it will take time – lots of it
Success is more effort than talent. Even the best talent will go to waste if it is not channeled in the right direction.
Instead of binge-watching another series on Netflix, spend your time honing your craft. The now-famous 10,000-Hour Rule, popularized by the prolific writer Malcolm Gladwell, holds that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything. He believes that the key to success in any field is a matter of practicing a specific task for 20 hours a week, for 10 years.
Are you willing to put in your 10,000 hours? If not, you might want to reconsider how much your success really means to you.
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5. Have something you do for pure pleasure
While it’s important to pour time into hustling and honing your craft, it’s important to not get so lost in that it consumes your life. Burnout is a very real threat to many entrepreneurs and successful career people, and the only way to avoid it is to have interests outside of work.
While it may feel counter-intuitive at first, like having a hobby will distract you from your work, it will actually do the opposite. Having an outlet for other forms of expression will actually kick start your brain to look at existing challenges at work in fresh ways.
For example, did you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger, more famous for bodybuilding, is an avid chess player? It’s important to have interests and passions that take you outside of your normal “work mode” to give your mind a break. You will come back refreshed, recharged, with newfound energy to continue working.
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6. Don’t rely on inspiration – prime and condition your body and mind
If you follow the tips of the world’s greatest motivational speakers like Tony Robbins, you’ll know that many of them practice strict rituals. They don’t depend on inspiration or wait until they are “in the mood” to start hustling, generating ideas, coming up with solutions.
Successful people prime their minds and bodies through very specific and repeated actions, such as writing down one thing they are thankful for every day, deep breathing exercises, visualizing goals, and celebrating small wins.
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In a nutshell…
One of the most common misconceptions in business is that people think it’s short term. They work towards that revenue goal, that big exit, landing that one big client. But it might take two years or ten years to achieve that goal. And the road to reach it will not be a straightforward one.
Whether you’re a business owner or an employed professional, if you want to be at the top of your league, prepare to be in it for the long haul. There will be ups and downs, so you have to prepare your body and your mind to handle it. Hopefully, these six tips I’ve shared from my experiences and those of others will help you do just that!