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5 Essential Steps You Should Take to Succeed

5 Essential Steps You Should Take to Succeed

Although everybody is on their own journey and usually following totally unique directions and goals, there are some traits all successful people have in common. Here are some key steps for you to take in order to succeed in any area of life!

1. Get started, no more excuses

Oftentimes, when we try to build something great, we are holding ourselves back without even consciously knowing it. We come up with excuses on why this is not the right time or why we lack some important information or money in order to be able to start. But what a lot of successful people have found is that there is never a good time to start. Conditions are never perfect and you will always lack information and you would always be “better off” gathering a few more resources before you start.

The problem here is that this is a first class ticket to procrastination, and when you start putting things off because of self-made excuses, you will end up never getting them done. So if you find yourself waking up with a desire to do a great thing (and I believe such an urge is in all of us), then make a real decision and take the smallest step towards your goal right now! You will be surprised how liberating taking action and making progress on your journey to success is!

Sir Richard Branson (Virgin Group) was once stuck at an airport when his last flight was canceled. But instead of making excuses, he came up with a solution and got started on it immediately. He chartered a private airplane, which he did not have the money to do. Then, he picked up a small blackboard, wrote “Virgin Airlines. $29.” on it, and went over to the group of people who had been on the flight that was canceled. He sold tickets for the rest of the seats on the plane, used their money to pay for the chartered plane, and everybody got to their destination the same night. Of course he also could have come up with excuses for why he couldn’t make it on time.

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2. Taking risks is necessary

You have to take risks in order to succeed. You have to leave your comfort zone and expand it every day. Doing something you feel scared of is the only way to increase your potential and get ahead in life. By pushing yourself further and further and taking calculated risks, you will find out about the abilities you have, and those you didn’t know you had!

Successful people know that and are willing to put the pressure on themselves that comes from doing something terrifying. They learned how to give their best performance even under extremely challenging situations. They feel the fear and do whatever is necessary to succeed anyway!

Bryan Cranston (actor, Breaking Bad) stated:

“The riskiest career decision is to go into this career. You have to be a risk taker of some degree to be able to say, ‘Alright, I’m throwing it all out there. Whatever happens, happens. I want to be an actor. If that means sleeping on someone’s couch for the rest of my life, then that’s what that is.'”

Following your passion no matter what is always risky but it is crucial and necessary in order for you to succeed.

3. The path you take will not be smooth

Whatever you are trying to do with your life, when it comes to success in any area, there will always be obstacles, mistakes and failures along your journey. Nobody ever got anywhere worth getting to without having a huge load of roadblocks to overcome.

Everybody has to find ways to handle the rejections, master their own emotions after getting beaten down, and gather the strength and the willpower to get back up again and keep moving forward. When life beats you down, you cannot add additional weight to your shoulders by beating yourself up about it. Thoughts like: “I cannot do this!” “Why is this always happening to me?” and “I don’t deserve it anyways,” or similar, have no right to be on your mind.

Instead embrace the fact that there will be setbacks along your path. Accept the fact that you might make some mistakes and you have to correct them. Learn to love to find new and better solutions for your daily obstacles and nobody will be able to stop you.

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Colonel Sanders (KFC) famously tried to sell his chicken recipe and got 1,009 no’s before he heard his first yes. Ask yourself if you would have had the endurance to keep going after getting rejected 1,000 times? His persistence and perseverance are the reason KFC is now an established brand making US$23 billion a year in revenue.

4. Keep learning

Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. Successful people know that in the end there is no such thing as failure or rejection: there is either success or a valuable life lesson on how to do it better the next time. If you are willing to keep learning and not beat yourself up about mistakes and failure, you tend to arrive at your goals way faster.

After some hard setback, analyze like a freak what went wrong and how you ended up there. What could you have done better, what can you still improve? After that, let go and move forward. Also, always find better and more efficient ways to succeed in your area of expertise. Never rest on your given success. Innovate and try new approaches, even if you don’t have to because “everything is working fine anyways right now.” Remember that whenever you are resting on your given success, there is always somebody else out there who — at this very moment — is working their butt off to get ahead of you!

Therefore:

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  • Read a lot of books. Read a broad range of genres and get different views on things. You never know which inputs will click with other aspects of your life and suddenly a new idea is born, which can turn your whole life around.
  • Talk to great and inspiring people. Always surround yourself with positive and upbeat people. You will be surprised how many valuable (business) insights you can get from truly listening to some of the people around you. By listening to their concerns you might also build a business around tackling these very problems! Opportunities are everywhere.
  • Always try new approaches and think about how to do things more efficiently. Learn new techniques on how to do stuff better. Never rest on your past successes! This is the only way to succeed in the long run!

Bill Gates (Microsoft) said:

“In this business, by the time you realize you’re in trouble, it’s too late to save yourself. Unless you’re running scared all the time, you’re gone. In order for Microsoft to have maintained its competitive edge for the past three decades, it was crucial for me and all my employees to engage in a process of continual learning. ‘I don’t know’ had to become ‘I don’t know yet.’”

5. When something’s done, celebrate

Celebrating and acknowledging your progress and success is just as key as every other step mentioned here. Only when you learn how to take a step back after a great achievement and celebrate your efforts and successes can you build a sustainable lifestyle out of the pursuing your goals.

Without this final step you can easily get lost in the progress because you feel like you’re running on a treadmill and not getting ahead at all. You have to commit to a life-long journey of ups and downs and you have to be thankful for every little success you get. Be appreciative of the little steps you take. Be happy about your progress and take time to acknowledge every little or major step you have taken. It is the only way you can make your journey a sustainable and enjoyable one. Celebrate, recharge and then keep moving forward and push it to the next level!

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“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Oprah Winfrey

Featured photo credit: Successful business group/Heberger Site via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 15, 2019

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

What Makes a Leader Fail?

A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

What Is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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“… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

1. Courage

The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

4. Likability

Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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5. Vulnerability

Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

6. Authenticity

Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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“A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

9. A Passion for Continual Learning

Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

The Bottom Line

No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

More Resources About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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