Successful people give the best life advice, plain and simple. The standard idea of a “successful person” has shifted a lot in the past 20 years though, and where we used to idolize politicians and stockbrokers, we now see tech CEOs and all levels of entrepreneurs. And this shift to startup-culture-as-gold-standard makes a lot of sense if you think about it. The kind of high profile that your Elon Musks and Jeff Bezoses carry today is significant, but the storytelling behind these individuals looms even larger. They’re the “self-made successes” leading us boldly into the future.
While we love this kind of narrative, statistically speaking, we all aren’t about to become tech entrepreneurs (and that’s probably for the best…). The great news is, the path to success is paved with the same kinds of attitudes and actions, regardless of industry. If you want to get motivated, build something amazing, or design the life you really want to live, these expert tips can help you get started.
1. Get into a rule-breaking mindset
This ever-famous Jobs quote is so popular because it tells a universal truth: it will always be more exciting to figure out how to hack the existing system than to simply go along with it. While that’s the basis of entrepreneurship – to disrupt and create something amazing – it should also be a standard for everyday life. Allow yourself to imagine new ways to get things done (in work, in relationships, in everything), and you might find yourself more inspired, creative, and fulfilled.
2. Whenever you can, kill two birds with one stone
Yes, it’s a classic cliche. But a core value of entrepreneurship is to bootstrap wherever you can, i.e. use the resources you already have to take you twice as far. This doesn’t have to be limited to work productivity though. If you have a passion for helping people and you’re already on a tight budget, for example (completely off the top of my head), the two-birds-with-one-stone approach would be to download the Inspired app and spark free donations to good causes whenever you spend (AKA get free money for awesome causes while you splurge a little). Otherwise, the best way to go about maximizing your resources is to do a little research: write down your highest priorities, and spend some time looking into the huge variety of free apps that can knock a few out at a time for you. A truly smart way to invest your time.
3. Remember: success isn’t your end goal, significance is
Another universal piece of advice is to stop measuring your success in money and other material achievements. If you’re truly aiming to be a disrupter and change-maker, your real goal is significance. Work toward doing something significant, as Oprah says, and the rest will eventually come to you. Another way you can think about it is by asking yourself, “What do I want my legacy to look like?” Do you want to be remembered for the difference you made? Or do you want to be remembered for the material benchmarks you reached? It’s all a matter of where you put your focus.
4. Fail quickly, fail often
Without failure, there is no growth. We know this, but we usually forget that includes frequent and sometimes painful failure. In the early stages of a business, failing, reiterating, failing, and reiterating is actually taught as a necessary part of the process. No successful venture has ever stayed the same from day one. In fact, the more successful ones have likely seen hundreds of revisions before things started to go right. The key is recognizing a failure, reacting, and improving, rather than letting the failure halt you completely. It’s so simple, but it’s still such a hard concept to apply to ourselves. So give yourself a little wiggle room. Your latest failure was a critical step in your next great success.
5. Start with a clean slate
Okay – this doesn’t mean don’t do your research. Having appropriate context and foundational knowledge for whatever project you’re starting is still very important. The key difference is stopping yourself from over-researching and getting so boxed in by existing parameters that you forget how to be creative. In 2006, if you were prototyping a new cell phone, all your research would tell you that it had to have buttons. Maybe a full keyboard if you were being ambitious. At Apple, though, the development team didn’t let themselves get too tied up in what currently deemed “possible,” and thus we got the touch-screen iPhone.
The key takeaways here are to use your resources wisely, count each failure as another step to success, and don’t let yourself get boxed in – advice valuable far beyond the startup scene. And when you’re feeling uninspired, remember that there’s a whole discipline devoted to creatively disrupting what already exists, and it’s chock full of lessons to draw from. Even better: imagine you’re already an entrepreneur, and your make-it-or-break-it project is to build your best life.