Success isn’t complicated.
But like financially illiterate individuals can’t understand how to become wealthy, or health-illiterate individuals can’t understand how to lose weight, success can look impossible to achieve.
But success — true, lasting success — is within your grasp. It is possible. It is available, to every person, at this moment.
Right now, you can make a decision to become a student of success. You can start on a journey that will take you to a future where everything you want is possible.
The principles to get there aren’t easy, but they are simple.
If you want to achieve true, lasting success in your life — the kind of success that will be the foundation for your life’s legacy — you need to master these 14 principles first.
1. Most People Will Never Be Successful.
“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” -Jim Rohn
Sadly, although anyone can choose to become successful, most people never will.
This is because when it comes down to the final word, most people will choose comfort over growth. Ultimately, they see the price for true success and say, “no thanks.”
This is one of the most important characteristics of the “mediocre majority” — they are unwilling to trade comfort and stability for the pain of wild growth.
Success costs you.
To reach higher function, you must be willing to become a child again, to learn and grow in new avenues. You must constantly be willing to become a small fish in a big pond again.
Most people simply aren’t willing.
The simple truth is, everyone could become healthy, happy, and fulfilled, starting right now, as you’re reading this. It is a choice that is available at all times. Yet, most people never take it.
In the words of Warren Buffet: “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
The choice to become 100% financially independent is available now.
The choice to have extremely rewarding and intimate relationships with your friends and family is available now.
The choice to become fit, active, and healthy is available now.
The choice to experience intense and complete emotional healing is available now.
But most people won’t take it.
Each of these avenues has a high cost. They require you to change your life. To shed old habits and adopt new ones. To sever ties with toxic individuals. To admit “I don’t know.”
Benjamin Hardy put it this way: “Anything is possible if you are willing to pay the price.”
Many people make these decisions every day, and change the trajectory of their lives, and their family’s lives, forever.
But many, many more people never make this choice.
They continue to live in ordinary, average lives, just like everyone else around them.
And in the words of Seth Godin:
“Is there a difference between ‘average’ and ‘mediocre?’ Not so much.”
2. Evolving is Painful. That’s Why Most People Don’t Do It.
“Arrogant or critical people are often people with low self-esteem who are afraid of taking risks. That’s because if you learn something new, then you are required to make mistakes in order to fully understand what you have learned.” -Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad Poor Dad
Evolving is painful.
Becoming a better version of yourself requires time, energy, humility, and study.
Evolving means constantly becoming a child again. You must become a young, teachable student again, over and over.
You must constantly be admitting, “I don’t know.”
There is so much you don’t know that will be revealed to you over the course of your studies and self-discovery. And the most helpful way to “grease the wheels” of this journey is to remain humble and open to correction and teaching.
The worst thing you can do is insist you already know everything.
Michelin-star chef Gordon Ramsay had a show called Kitchen Nightmares where he would audit a struggling restaurant’s food processes.
There was a particular episode where a failing restaurant was led by a stubborn and arrogant chef who refused to change his menu or learn new tricks.
Ramsey came in and began cooking marvelous new dishes for the restaurant. He prepared a particular sea bass dish for the owners, which they loved.
However, the chef refused to try the dish. “I already know what sea bass tastes like,” he argued dismissively. “I’ve been cooking for 38 years.”
Instead of learning a free, valuable lesson from a world-class expert, this man chose pride over growth.
This is how most people react to criticism — defensiveness and immaturity.
Instead of humbly admitting they don’t know everything and gratefully accepting wisdom and teaching from experts, they choose pride and stagnation over humility and massive growth.
Evolving is painful. Most people simply choose not to do it.
But once you decide to become someone who is open to correction and teaching, you become an unstoppable force.
If you shift your mindset into being an open, thirsty mind that is hungry for knowledge (and humble enough to accept correction), you’ll become more capable than 90% of the population to achieve massive success.
“Every next level of your life will demand a different you.”-Leonardo DiCaprio
What got you here won’t get you there.
Mastering success means mastering the art of constantly becoming a better version of yourself.
This is done through slow, deliberate choices, and is sped-up exponentially through being humble enough to accept correction and teaching.
3. The Obstacle is the Way.
“Within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” -Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way
The ancient stoic philosophers like Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus all ascribed to learning how to turn challenges into triumphs.
It was Aurelius, emperor of Rome who first penned the thought, “the obstacle is the way.”
Aurelius had to deal with problems you and I don’t typically face — assassination attempts, betrayals by his top advisors, and the incessant efforts of his enemies to overthrow Rome.
What he learned through all of this was not to run from problems; in fact, they are exactly where you should go.
It is through solving difficult problems and overcoming frustration and fear that allows you to develop patience, poise, and peace in the most dire of circumstances.
The reason so many NFL teams, CEO’s, and personal development coaches have been studying the philosophy of Stoicism in recent years is because solving these obstacles directly (instead of running away) is exactly how to become a stronger, faster, smarter, and more poised person.
Becoming successful often means an entire transformation in many parts of your life. The relationships, finances, health, and personal habits of successful people often look radically different the the average person’s.
This change is difficult. Evolving is painful, so most people don’t do it.
But for those who truly desire to become successful, the obstacle — fear of rejection, frustration, setbacks, anger, impatience…
This is exactly where you need to focus your efforts.
4. Growth and Comfort Cannot Co-Exist.
“You can either step forward into growth, or backwards into security.” -Abraham Maslow
Growth means learning. It means working, doing, creating, resisting, failing.
Comfort means safety. It means stability, protection, pleasure, and feeling good.
Growth cannot happen as long as you choose comfort over learning. Growth and evolution are incubated in pain and discomfort.
Most people choose comfort over pain, and so remain in average, mediocre lives.
If you want to succeed and experience true, lasting success, you need to know that all the necessary growth and evolution you must experience cannot happen while you’re comfortable.
There is so much you need to know and need to learn. The path to success is paved with obstacles that can only be overcome by reading books, gaining mentors, failing and trying again, and learning from your mistakes.
These cannot happen if you continue to mindless numb yourself through TV and drugs, sleep in longer than you should, or cling to what is “easy” instead of what is “challenging.”
Growth and comfort cannot co-exist.
If you want to become a new, better, healthier, richer, stronger, smarter person, it cannot be achieved while you choose comfort over growth.
5. Becoming Extraordinary Means Giving Up a “Normal” Life.
“If you want to live an exceptional and extraordinary life, you have to give up many of the things that are part of a normal one.” -Srinivas Rao
If you want to experience true success and become extraordinary, it means you must give up many parts of a “normal” life.
Nowadays, “normal” means a lot of things.
“Normal” means buying things you don’t need to impress people you don’t like with money you don’t have.
“Normal” means binge-eating an entire pizza while binge-watching an entire season of a TV show.
“Normal” means sleeping in as late as you can. It means doing what others tell you to do. It means following conventional advice, never leaving the safety of the herd.
Normal is “the way things have always been done.”
But “extraordinary” is something quite different.
If you want to live an extraordinary life, that means you’ll have to start acting very differently from how everyone else is.
One of the most basic tenets of becoming extraordinary is simply having the courage to go against the tide.
In the words of Benjamin P. Hardy, “Ordinary people seek entertainment. Extraordinary people seek education and learning.”
Extraordinary means buying books, online courses, and conference memberships instead of buying alcohol, doodads, and luxuries you don’t even need.
Extraordinary means saying “no” to merely good opportunities and waiting for the truly great ones.
Extraordinary means investing your money in assets, not liabilities. The wealthy don’t become wealthy by sitting on their hands — they spend enormous amounts of time becoming extremely financially literate and make their money work for them.
Extraordinary means becoming fit and healthy so your body and mind are able to function at extremely high levels so you can produce work that can truly change the world.
Extraordinary means devoting the majority of your time learning and investing in personal development.
Most people don’t prioritize the characteristics of the extraordinary lifestyle. Being extraordinary means doing things others won’t.
“Would you be as successful if you followed all the rules and always behaved and never took chances? No, you’d be just like everyone else, scared about failing and worried about being liked.” -Tim Grover, personal trainer of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant
6. Willpower Doesn’t Work.
“Most people approach goals and personal improvement the hard way. Rather than changing their environment, they strive to overcome their current environment.” -Benjamin P. Hardy
Most people are terrible at achieving goals.
As much at 92% of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions just a few weeks into January.
When asked, most overweight and broke people declare they would like to become fit and financially successful.
But they continue in their unhealthy habits and foolish financial decisions.
Most people are terrible at achieving goals because they rely on willpower to do so.
A simple secret about success is that willpower doesn’t work.
According to the latest psychological research, your willpower is like a muscle. The more you use it, the more tired it gets. Essentially, willpower is a finite resource that becomes depleted with use.
As a result, your willpower is nearly gone by the end of your long, strenuous days. Suddenly, you don’t even stand a chance resisting that junk food and watching TV.
Commitment is something entirely different. Commitment goes above and beyond your energy, stamina, or how you feel, even after an extremely strenuous day.
If you’re truly committed to something, in your mind, it’s as though you’ve already succeeded. All doubt and disbelief are gone.
“When you commit to an enormous goal that far exceeds your current capability, willpower won’t solve your problem. Rather, you’ll need a new environment that organically generates your goals — a context that forces you to become more than you currently are. Once you design the right conditions, your desired behavior naturally follows.” -Benjamin Hardy
As long as you rely on willpower alone to accomplish your goals, you will never succeed on truly enormous levels.
It is only through an unwavering commitment to a new lifestyle that truly allows you to accomplish extraordinary things.
7. Consistency Beats Intensity.
“Long-term consistency beats short-term intensity.” -Bruce Lee
In 1974, boxer Muhammad Ali was scheduled to fight George Foreman. Foreman was considered by many observers to be the favored to win the fight due to his superior punching power. He was stronger and more experienced than Ali.
Rather than try to match Foreman at his own game, Ali adopted a different tactic, which became famous in their “Rumble in the Jungle” fight. It was called the “rope a dope” technique.
During the fight, Ali put himself in a protected stance, put his back against the ropes of the ring, and let Foreman punch him relentlessly.
At the time some observers thought that Ali was being horribly beaten and worried that they might see him get killed in the ring.
But the ropes on Ali’s back allowed him to absorb the punches without taking a lot of damage. While Foreman exhausted himself fruitlessly attacking Ali, Ali was waiting for the moment to strike.
At the end of the 8th round, Ali knocked out Foreman and won.
Often, the stronger and faster opponent gets beaten by a weaker, slower adversary.
It’s because in the long run, it’s not about intensity — it’s about consistency.
This is the essence of Angela Duckworth’s groundbreaking book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. In short, it is not the individual with the greatest starting position or motivation that usually wins — it’s the person who has the most “grit.” The person who can last the longest.
The individual who is able to make a stronger commitment to maintaining their course despite whatever happens…
This is the person who will reach their goal.
Will Smith, critically acclaimed actor and producer, was once asked about his motivation and how he got to become to successful.
“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill,” he explained.
“I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories.
But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die.”
Success is all about consistency.
It’s not about never falling down — it’s about getting up every time you fall down.
“You will fall. And when you fall, the winner always gets up, and the loser stays down.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger
Most people rely on short, intense bursts of inspiration and motivation in their attempts to be successful. Maybe they read an inspiring weight-loss story, or just watched Gladiator.
After this inspiration, they act like a crazy person — they work tirelessly, day and night. They go to the gym 6 days in a row for two weeks, they write 5,000 words for their book, they throw out every piece of junk food they have in their house.
But what usually happens to these people?
The same fate that befalls nearly 92% of individuals who make New Year’s Resolutions: they give up a couple weeks later.
Enthusiasm is common.
Endurance is rare.
“Fall seven, rise eight.” -Ancient Japanese Proverb
8. Success Means Choosing Education Over Entertainment.
“Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.” -Hal Elrod, The Miracle Morning
Choosing to learn instead of being entertained is a trademark characteristic of successful people.
Mastering success means learning to love being a small fish in a big pond. Most people don’t want to admit those three little words…“I don’t know.” Instead of choosing to learn, they reject the opportunity and instead go back to entertaining themselves.
But achieving your ultimate life requires a tremendous deal of learning. It requires an intense dedication to gaining knowledge, learning important lessons, and receiving teachings that add to your wisdom, experience, and education.
Some of the greatest and most successful minds of our time are also voracious readers. They make time for their education.
Warren Buffet (worth $74.4 billion) advocates to read hundreds of pages a day.
Mark Cuban (worth $3.4 billion) dedicates three hours a day to reading.
Bill Gates (worth $90.2 billion) reads 50 books a year, nearly a book a week.
Elon Musk (worth $15.2 billion) is an avid reader that claims he learned to build rockets by reading books.
The most successful people of the world don’t spend their precious and most potent time binge-watching TV, playing excessive video games, or partying into drunken oblivion.
The extraordinary people of this world dedicate massive amounts of time and money into investing in themselves.
This is done through reading books and blogs, attending conferences, seminars, webinars, and trainings, participating in “Mastermind groups,” collaborating with others, and working with several mentors.
Successful people choose education over entertainment.
Odds are, your life’s greatest work requires you to close the wide gap between what you know and what you don’t.
In the words of Benjamin Foley, “The goal of life is not to relax on the beach, sipping mojitos all day. The purpose is to find something you love that also adds value to the world.”
If you want to find that purpose, and actually start creating and doing work that impacts the loves of thousands…
You’ll need to get educated.
If you want to be extraordinary and successful, choose education and learning over entertainment.
9. Everyone’s First Draft Sucks.
“The first draft of anything is shit.” -Ernest Hemingway
I have a friend who is writing a novel.
It’s his first novel, and he works very hard on it. In fact, he’s been working on it for years. Sometimes I check in with him to see how it’s going. It’s usually going “alright.”
Here’s the thing he doesn’t understand:
His first book probably won’t be that good.
And that’s OK. His second and third books will probably be better.
But he’ll never know if he never publishes the first one.
I’ve written 2 eBooks so far. The first one sold exactly zero copies. The second one sold about 20 copies.
I imagine my next one will sell a little more. Same goes for the one after that.
My first 2 eBooks weren’t that great. I put a lot of work into them — a lot. But I also clicked “publish.” Most people never do that. They spend years building this intricate, almost-perfect creation that’s never quite “done.”
They don’t realize they’re only prolonging their own success.
Most people want to be wildly successful on the first try. But this almost never happens.
Everyone’s first draft isn’t that good. That’s because we haven’t learned what “great” is yet. We are not able to produce great work without first producing a lot of crap.
In the words of renowned radio host Ira Glass:
“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.
A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.
It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.”
My friend would do far better for himself if he simply published his book, accepted some criticisms and the fact that he didn’t immediately make the New York Times Best Seller list…and start on his second book.
It will probably do better than his first book did. Same goes for his 3rd and 4th books.
Success isn’t about creating; it’s is about consistently practicing quality actions. Every day. Over and over. Unsexy, boring work.
Michael Jordan didn’t become great while on the court of his widely-publicized games. And Michael Phelps didn’t become the most decorated Olympian of all time solely through his widely-publicized Olympic appearances.
These individuals became great alone, in practice, every day, for years. Over, and over, and over.
“Champions aren’y made in the ring. They are merely recognized there.” -Joe Frazier
Everyone’s first draft sucks.
Get over it, publish it, and try again. Your second draft will be better.
10. How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything
I used to juggle being an entrepreneur on the side while working full-time.
I used to believe that even if I slacked off all day at work — scraping by, just doing the minimum to not get fired — I could switch gears from the lazy, unmotivated worker I was to a disciplined, creative entrepreneur when I got home.
But that never worked.
How you do one thing is how you do everything. If you spend all day being bored, lazy, and irresponsible, you can’t simply “flip a switch” and become a truly responsible, disciplined, hard worker while at home, in your relationships, your finances, or your health.
Many people think they can compartmentalize their discipline and effort — working hard in some areas but not in others — but you can’t.
When one area of your life is suffering, all the other parts suffer. Conversely, when you develop one part of your life, all the other parts benefit too.
Are laziness, irresponsibility, and avoidance normal parts of your day? Even if they’re in areas you don’t deem worthy of your efforts — are they there?
If they are, they need to be changed. The whole cannot become healthy if there are still toxic areas that remain unaddressed.
Like a broken ankle or a dislocated shoulder, the entire body will suffer if even one part remains broken.
11. You Can Become Anything If You’re Willing to Pay the Price.
“How much you improve is up to you.” -Anders Ericcson, Peak: Secrets From the New Science of Expertise
In the words of Benjamin P. Hardy:
“You can learn, have, or be anything if you are willing to pay the price.
You can be a millionaire in not a long period of time.
You could be an established expert on any topic.
You could be a successful business owner.
You could have deep spiritual understanding.
You could do an Iron Man triathlon.
You could be an empathetic, caring, and loving person.
You could have beautiful and meaningful relationships with your romantic partner, business colleagues, mentors, and other people who inspire you.
You could be the person you know within yourself you can be.
You can live the life you know within yourself you are meant to live.
But you have to pay the price.”
The price for being extraordinary is a high one. It means severing ties with toxic individuals. It often means waking up earlier, eating healthier, and saying “no” to things you used to say yes to.
The truth is, there are probably dozens of daily activities you do that don’t serve you. They only serve to distract you, bring you down, or keep you “busy.”
Paying the price of success means changing these behaviors. The choice to become extraordinary is not unlike the addict who knows he has to quit to survive; do you keep doing the same things, or are you willing to change everything to transform?
For many people, the answer is no. They see the price tag for a truly successful life, and suddenly they’re hesitant and reluctant.
But if the prospect of the reward — becoming extraordinary and truly successful — is worth it to you…
Then you need to start paying the price.
When you’re with your loved ones, do you look at your smartphone or pay the price?
When you have 5 extra minutes, do you “zone out” or do you pay the price?
When you have a choice between the easy and comfortable path or the difficult and challenging path, do you pay the price?
When your alarm goes off in the morning, do you just press “snooze” or do you pay the price?
You can have anything you want. But this success requires a heavy price.
Are you willing to pay?
12. Success is a Lonely Road.
“The more bold you are, the more rejection you’ll experience.” -Todd Brison,
The thing about becoming truly successful is that most people never do it.
The world is full of members of the “mediocre majority.” Most people will never be successful. They may try, or claim they want to, but in reality, it never happens.
This reality becomes all the more keen for the few individuals who actually choose to become truly successful and extraordinary.
It’s lonely. There’s not a lot of company.
Only those who have reached the top of the mountain know how few tracks are up there.
If you want to be truly successful, you need to understand this road will probably be very lonely, for a time.
Even the most well-intentioned people around you may begin to disparage and discourage you from leaving the safety of the herd. Family, friends, and loved ones all may not understand your choice to go on a new path.
In some cases, they may even become resentful and hurtful.
This is because since many people never reach their dreams, they don’t want others to reach theirs. In order to prevent the reality that you achieved your goals while they did not, they strive to keep you in the herd, or ostracize you when you leave.
If you want to reach new heights and achieve success unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before, it will likely involve loneliness, rejection, and ostracism.
13. If It’s Not a “Hell Yes!” It’s a No.
When my wife and I were still living in San Diego, I was extremely busy. I had written an eBook, started a podcast, gotten a craft beer certification, and read 30 books, all while in full-time grad school and full-time work.
When we moved to South Korea, our lives became extremely simple. And I began saying “no” to almost everything.
Some of these opportunities included:
* Overtime at work
* High-paying private tutoring
* Youth basketball coach
* Remote data administrator
* Podcast co-founder
I said no to all of them.
That’s because I realized they were all “good” opportunities, but not “great” ones.
None of these opportunities made me think, “Hell yes!”
From now on, if any opportunity doesn’t make you say, “Hell yes!” you must say no.
Most people are stuck in obligations they don’t even like, simply because they didn’t have the courage to say no. As a result, their days are spent doing things they don’t like that suck precious time and energy that could be spent on building their legacy.
You need to say “no” more.
In the words of Warren Buffet:
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
When you say yes to the “kinda-good” opportunities — the ones that make you say things like, “Sure, that could be fun,” or “Alright, that sounds interesting” — you forfeit your chance to say yes to amazing opportunities.
Your life’s legacy requires your best work, and a lot of time to do it.
You can’t create a legacy if you’re always distracted with good-not-great opportunities, even if you’re making a few extra bucks.
14. Acting “As If” Becomes Acting “As Is.”
“Act as if you are already the healthiest person you can be. Do not wait until you feel better about yourself or until you believe you have what it takes. As if you are self-actualized and your beliefs will follow suit. Act while you fear rather than waiting until you feel unafraid.” -David Richo, How To Be an Adult
One of the most important factors about becoming successful is self-belief. In other words, your level of how successful you will be is generally accurate.
This sentiment has been echoed throughout history.
Said Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
In a letter to a struggling friend, Bruce Lee said, “What you habitually think largely determines what you will ultimately become.”
Do you believe you can win? Can you envision yourself with your goals completed? Can you see yourself with everything you’ve ever wanted?
If you can’t, you’ll almost certainly never.
What you focus on, expands. This is why most critical, judgmental, and negative people invariably have negative, toxic lives.
If all you focus on is how much of a victim you are, you’ll always be a victim. If all you can see is how unfair your circumstances are, you’ll be doomed to stay in your stagnation.
Winners become winners by acting like one.
Acting “as if” can be a playful game, where you toy with the balance of shedding off who you were or are, and instead don the costume of who you want to be. It may sound silly, but this is a powerful exercise for your mind.
Robert Kiyosaki, author of the acclaimed finance book Rich Dad Poor Dad, recounted a time when he had lost a large amount of money, leaving he and his wife broke.
“I’m a rich man,” he would tell himself. “And rich men don’t do that.”
Even though he had literally lost all his money, he still acted like a rich man. He still donned the “costume” of a wealthy, financially secure individual, and so that’s what he became.
If you’re rich, you don’t make bad investments or foolish financial decisions.
So act like you’re rich.
If you’re a healthy, fit individual, you don’t eat garbage. If you’re a loving, caring husband, you love and serve your wife. That’s just what you do.
Even if you’re not there yet, don the costume. Acting “as if” will eventually become acting “as is.” This is how people become truly successful, especially if they or no one else around them has ever done so — they imagine themselves as that person. Then they act accordingly.
And in the words of Paulo Coelho:
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
If you’re broke, overweight, unhappy, or stuck, act as if you’re not. Act as if you’re a rich, fit, content individual with a purpose.
You’ll become that person.
But you have to believe it.
“One will never get more than he thinks he can get.” -Bruce Lee
“Where you are is a result of who you were, but where you end up depends entirely on who you choose to be from this moment forward.” -Hal Elrod
Mastering success isn’t easy, but it’s simple.
Success isn’t mysterious. It’s not a magical puzzle that only a select few have the ability to solve.
It’s available right now.
But mastering success requires you to become a more open-minded and humble learner than you ever have been before.
You must learn from the experts. You must admit you don’t know.
You must recognize reaching new heights requires an entirely different you.
This is good news. We were not meant to stagnate or remain in comfort for long. As anyone who has chosen comfort over growth for too long knows, that very comfort sours and becomes a prison of fear, shame, and isolation.
The real, fulfilling life is waiting for you on the battlefield.
It’s not easy out there. But the rules are simple.
Follow them, and you’ll become wildly successful.
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