We all want to be successful, but it isn’t easy. I think we can agree that Bill Gates is a very successful man, but that wasn’t always the case. His first business failed miserably.
Yes, one of the successful people in the whole world couldn’t make any money at first. Gates’ first company, Traf-O-Data (a device which could read traffic tapes and process the data), flopped. When Gates and his partner, Paul Allen, tried to sell it, the product wouldn’t even work. Gates and Allen didn’t let that stop them from trying again though.
Here’s how Allen explained how the failure helped them: “Even thought Traf-O-Data wasn’t a roaring success, it was seminal in preparing us to make Microsoft’s first product a couple of years later.”
Similarly, we all think of Benjamin Franklin as a very smart and successful man, but he didn’t start out that way either. Franklin’s parent could only afford to put him through school for ten years. That didn’t stop the great man from pursuing his education. He taught himself through voracious reading, and eventually went on to invent the lightning rod and bifocals. Oh, and he became one of America’s Founding Fathers.
So, what do Gates and Franklin have in common? What makes certain people successful? According to John Maxwell in the article “What’s the One Thing all Successful People Have in Common?,” some would say it’s great ability or intelligence. But we all can probably think of someone who’s not particularly talented who’s doing quite well.
Others would point to a privileged upbringing. In other words, a head start via training or opportunities that others didn’t have. But many successful people can point to very humble beginnings or to major obstacles that didn’t set them up to win in life.
And what about naked ambition? Sure, there are some very cutthroat “successes” out there, but there are also just as many kind and unselfish people who are succeeding in their field.
In my years of learning and teaching about personal growth and leadership, Maxwell believes that he has discovered the one thing all successful people do have in common. It’s described very well by one of his favorite authors, Dale Carnegie:
“The biggest lesson I have ever learned is the stupendous importance of what we think. If I knew what you think, I would know what you are, for your thoughts make you what you are; by changing our thoughts we can change our lives.”
How we think: Maxwell believes that’s the key to success, because thinking comes before action. We can’t do things that lead to success until we think in a successful way.
So what does successful thinking look like? It’s more than anyone can communicate in a short article like this one. However, if we’re going to boil it down to one thing, successful people take calculated risks. If you want to be successful you have to put yourself out there. Don’t be content to follow the crowd and expect success just to land in your lap. You have go out into the world and get your own success.
About The Author
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.