When it comes to successful people, there is usually a noticeable "it" factor radiating off of them. A swagger, a presence that makes them stand out in a group of people. Something that draws your eye to them. They're usually the ones out hustling their competition, making aggressive plays--think business or athletics, encouraging others around them to elevate their game, or relentlessly attacking a problem or task.
There is an intensity behind their eyes that many don't understand. But, what is it about these individuals that makes them great? Can the average individual harness this same fiery spirit to elevate their own life? My first question: how do you define greatness, or success?
We all want certain things, so the definition of success is more individual than many of us realize. One of the most common, arguably opposite extremes I can think of, is the stay at home mom vs. the career-driven woman. The mom sees her success in raising outstanding kids in a "perfect" home, with no notion of wanting to work in our social system, as it would take away time from nurturing her family. On the other hand, the career-driven woman sees her success as climbing the corporate ladder, advancing her career, making money, saving for life after retirement, and has relatively little interest in starting a family as it could hinder her climb.
Different definitions of success, but the values needed to cultivate greatness in both situations, and many others, are the same.
Surround yourself with the right people
What are these values? For starters, I would like to introduce you to a man who is one of my personal heroes, Erik Weihenmayer. He is the first blind man to climb all 7 Summits (the tallest peak on each continent) and co-author of Adversity Advantage.
It is his quotes that are scattered throughout this article, because his unwavering will and faith in human potential are unlike anything I have ever read. His accomplishments alone are enough to inspire, but the way he talks about overcoming things that seem at first impossible, is unparalleled.
One thing Weihenmayer talks about, is surrounding yourself with people who will elevate your growth. You've probably heard this used with who you pick as your friends before, but the same goes for cultivating greatness. Athletes are quite lucky to be in an environment where their success is the main objective.
In terms of athletics, a coaching staff, training staff, and administration are all there to support the athletes and ensure they have the resources they need to be successful at their sport. For every day athletes without this support system automatically put in place, we must use our resources to develop our own.
"Regardless of how many strengths you possess, it's almost impossible to achieve greatness alone. Linking with the right people can elevate the breadth and scope of your impact. Others will have strengths you do not, and skills that compliment yours."
Finding circles of people who are driven, intelligent, and welcoming can be challenging, but not impossible. A few good places to start may be:
Reprogram Your Mindset
Overwhelming your excuses is much easier said than done, it goes back to the picture at the top about talking versus actually doing. What are your excuses? How do you reprogram your mindset to silence them and instead take action?
Convey Confidence to Build Confidence
The final piece I will leave you with, is building confidence. The most successful people on this planet have incredible self-confidence. In Norman Vincent Peale's classic The Power of Positive Thinking, he says:
"Feelings of confidence depend upon the type of thoughts that habitually occupy your mind. Think defeat and you are bound to feel defeated. But practice thinking confident thoughts, make it a dominating habit, and you will develop such a strong sense of capacity that regardless of what difficulties arise, you will be able to overcome them."
Personally, I have crippled my confidence in the past by comparing myself to others or trying to copy them. That's a horrible way to go about things, as comparison is truly the thief of joy.
In fact, most people, despite their confident appearance and demeanor, are oftentimes insecure. That being said, if you don't feel confident, fake it till you make it! You become what you repeatedly do, so if you decide to put on your confident pants everyday, despite how you're feeling, it may just change your world!
Make Yourself Great
In summary, in order to make ourselves great, we must actively work on things that cultivate our greatness, rather than just thinking, reading, and learning about them.
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