The path to greatness starts with a critical look in the mirror. These accomplished entrepreneurs share their best, most practical (and actionable) tips to maximize your potential.
1. Quit caring and take ownership
First off, unbelievable happiness comes from a self-belief that’s not swayed by people’s opinions of you. So many people don’t do what they love because of what others say or think. They hedge and settle in life.
I don’t give a crap what people think of me. It’s incredibly important what my inner circle thinks of me, but it’s stunning how much I’ll push back if someone tries to impose their will without knowing me. Not caring takes intestinal fortitude. By 91, you’ll be stunned by how little you care.
Second, be authentic. I don’t make a good first impression with most people because I curse and have an ego. What they don’t know is I equally have humility. I’m not a snake oil salesman; I’m a good dude.
I’m not as big as I could be—in terms of followers, book sales, impact on the world—because of the way I come out of the gate with energy, bravado and a love of competition. Yet I don’t change because authenticity will always win.
Finally, the biggest obstacle to your success is a lack of optimism. So many things can prevent your success. It’s hard being an entrepreneur. That’s why 99 percent of businesses fail. Everyone thinks it’s so easy. Every day is hard. You’ve just got to persevere, no matter what.
Start creating layers upon layers of skin to survive. If you don’t have the stomach to weather the storm, you won’t be successful. Everything I don’t achieve is my fault. That’s the way it should be—no excuses.
—Gary Vaynerchuk, founder and CEO of VaynerMedia (700+ employees with more than $100 million in annual revenue), New York Times best-selling author and mentor on Planet of the Apps
2. Invest in personal growth
Albert Einstein once said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” And my message is that you can’t grow a business past your own personal growth.
Have mentors. Join masterminds. Search out your weaknesses through others, because we’re usually blind to our liabilities. For example, when I first started making money, I remember buying a Rolex and thinking I was smarter than everyone. That mentality held me back.
Seek personal growth as an opportunity to fix what’s broken within you. You don’t have to lose confidence to work on areas in your life that hold you back.
—Craig Handley, co-founder and CEO of ListenTrust; read more about Handley: Why He Trains His Employees to Quit
3. Learn or retire
Many of us think that once we’ve graduated from school or college, we’re done learning. Wrong. You must remain a student until the day you die. You must create your own syllabus for what you will learn next.
Have you ever had the feeling that you wish you could read every book in the library? Use that feeling to pick a new topic you know little about, or something you want to know more about, and be your own teacher. Do your homework, which sounds like a terrible word, but not when it’s self-assigned. You can always be learning. If you’re not, your instinct for curiosity has been damaged.
If you’re no longer curious about the world or the things you don’t know well, I hope you have the means to retire.
—Roberto Orci, Hollywood super-producer and screenwriter whose movies and TV shows have grossed more than $5 billion worldwide
4. Be responsible
There was a point in my life when I felt the need to make some serious changes and take things up a level. After much introspection, I boiled it down to one insanely simple idea: If I wanted to be a more successful, responsible person, I needed to make daily decisions that a successful, responsible person would make. The immense power of this mindset hit me a few days later in an aha moment.
It was a hot Texas summer, and I was rushing out of the house. As I tried to grab a glass of ice water, a couple of ice cubes hit the floor. I could have easily walked away. The ice cubes would have melted and evaporated. No big deal leaving them, right? Wrong. It’s a huge deal.
Successful, responsible people don’t leave ice cubes on the floor. They square away the little things.
How you make small, insignificant decisions will impact every other decision in your life. It’s a value set. To take success to the next level, you must analyze your values and how you make decisions. Choose not to take the lazy way out. Stop letting yourself off the hook. Take 10 seconds and pick up the ice cubes in your life.
—Mark Bloom, a nationally recognized real estate expert and co-founder of NetWorth Realty, with more than $500 million in residential transactions in 2016
5. Think like a leader, but act like a student
You are ultimately the boss of your life. But constantly acting like the boss will not get you far with people. Seeking to learn from those around you means acting like a student.
This attitude has helped me surround myself with entrepreneurs who are making a difference. They see my willingness to learn, improve and contribute to the world. As a student, I love listening to others’ input even if it means 100 percent criticism, because over time, I’ve used others’ criticism to improve, evolve and persist.
When the criticism is unfair, instead of being crushed, I am kind to myself. I ignited a fire in myself using positive self-affirmation. I know who I am on the inside. That knowledge protects me from anyone who is simply out to attack my inner person. When you have that inner confidence coupled with an unstoppable drive, it leaves very little room for burnout.
—Sweta Patel, a startup marketing advisor and founder of Silicon Valley Startup Marketing who has consulted for more than 200 early-stage startups and high-growth companies; connect with Sweta on Facebook and Instagram
6. Allow your personal life to flourish
Maximizing your potential starts with taking care of yourself. This has been the constant theme of my life for the past decade. Maybe it comes from my personal trainer past, but every time I stop taking care of my health, my business starts to tank.
It’s not just eating healthy and exercising consistently. It’s all areas of life: mental, emotional, social, spiritual and physical. Do things as simple as scheduling a bimonthly date night with your spouse, reviewing your goals, setting the alarm to meditate or pray or even hosting a weekly game night with friends.
Allowing your personal life to flourish will undoubtedly improve your focus and optimism and enable you to push through any challenge.
—AJ Rivera, seven-figure marketing expert, business advisor, and CEO of PT Freedom; connect with AJ on Facebook and YouTube