What does it mean to be successful? Most people strive for success in their working life, and are constantly in pursuit of the next promotion, the next client, or the next pay raise. People often take pride in saying “I’m so, so busy at work!” as if busy is automatically equivalent to successful. We often mistake intensity for productivity and satisfaction. But if we examine the very successful people of the business world (think Shark Tank), there are often surprising differences between the successful and the highly successful powerhouses we all admire.
The Myth of ON
There is a myth in our working culture telling us that successful people are constantly on. They wake early, rarely vacation, and spend every hour blazing a trail to their goal. Whenever someone asks for something, they deliver above and beyond expectation. How do they do it?
The truth is, one can only last so long at a breakneck pace. Burn out is increasingly common among people who dedicate their entire lives to their career.
If I Can Do It, I Should
Highly successful people never shove something into their schedule just because they think they can make it work. They are actually incredibly selective about the commitments they take on.
Take it from Warren Buffet:
“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.”
Very successful people are aware of their limitations. They realize that if they say yes to something, it will inevitably take away from something else. Who can think well and solve problems creatively with a mile-long to do list? Saving brainpower for the more important priorities is important to the very successful, and is what allows them to attain such high levels of achievement in their fields.
Sleep Deprivation Is Not A Trophy
“I only sleep four hours a night!” is often upheld as an impressive achievement. Anyone who is so busy must be a high-achiever, right?
Wrong. Anyone who is so busy that they only get half a night’s sleep is not good at managing their time. A full night’s sleep refreshes the mind, for better performance in the morning. Elite violinists for example practice smarter, not harder, than their lesser achieving counterparts. The business of hard to do work is much different than hard work. If you’re constantly running on fumes from sleep deprivation, how can you expect to accomplish difficult, complex tasks? You’ll end up in zombie mode, and zombies are not known for their high level of achievement.
Focus On The Essentials
Highly successful people easily delineate what is most important, and focus on those items exclusively. They ask, “What is essential?” “What can I eliminate?” Popular thought would suggest they are lazy, but by working smarter, more can be achieved.
Essentialism eliminates the mindless, repetitive tasks that distract us from our real goals. In The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris outlines how he outsourced his life and automated his income to create a life of freedom for himself. Ferris’ goal was to eliminate the need for a 40-hour grind, and create mobility that would allow him to travel as he pleased and spend time pursuing his astonishing array of interests.
Trim The Fat
You may not want to streamline your job to 4 hours a week… but what can you do to eliminate some of the radio static that interferes with your working life? What extraneous factors have interfered with achieving your goals? Maybe it’s a boss who constantly interrupts you for personal assistance, or an unkempt home that is constantly distracting you from your freelance work. Delegate, streamline, and eliminate so you can concentrate on what’s most important to you.