As babies we learn to crawl, walk, eat and talk by modeling or watching others. This idea of studying others through conscious observance is the best method for achieving success. Simply put: we are what we do. Some of the most influential people in my life, who have trained me to become the independent person I am today, are successful people I’ve never even met. Here are seven ways you can learn from others who are highly successful.
1. Learn to never pity yourself.
Liz Murray defeated the odds that were against her. From a child of drug-addicted parents to a homeless Harvard student, Murray rose to become an international speaker and author. Her story came to me through a Lifetime documentary called “Homeless to Harvard,” and the strength of Murray’s spirit encouraged me. I cried during the movie thinking about what it must have taken by way of intestinal fortitude to get her high school diploma. She then progressed to the level of what many consider highly successful.
After watching, I researched the woman in an attempt to learn why she had the ability to succeed where others like her deteriorated into self-pity. I saw the strength of her determination to get what she knew she deserved. I learned never to pity myself. One day I too may inspire even just one person.
2. Learn to scream in an empty room, but whisper in an auditorium.
Since the early ‘90s the progressive rock band Tool has been growing a strong following, but the band only released one E.P. and four full-length albums total as of 2014. Watching and studying the front man, Maynard James Keenan, has tuned me into some keen business decisions. The first of which is marketing.
Keenan said during interviews that an auditorium full of people will quiet to hear a whisper. Once an entertainer or a leader speaks loudly enough (screaming in an almost empty room) the message will carry, but to maintain the level of interest one needs to back off and let the audience clamor for more. The concept of whispering in an auditorium shows true insight to the factors that make someone interesting and therefore successful.
Readers may not know that Keenan started Tool on a dare, but a quick Internet search will prove that this one man took an idea and ran with it. He greatly improved the sense of what it takes to make it as an independent musician (and now wine maker).
3. Learn the importance of networking.
Ben Franklin has been called “The First American” and what his model teaches is one of networking. At his core, Franklin understood human nature, psychology and marketing. Perhaps because he came from blue-collar roots, Franklin understood not only himself but also his community. He wrote as well as published the famous Pennsylvania Gazette.
Though Franklin didn’t overcome the kind of debilitating struggles that Murray did, and though he wasn’t promoting a true creative project, like a band, what he did showed triumph over the economic and political scene of a country still finding itself. When one man can find himself in a country that hasn’t yet settled on what it is, that is inspirational.
4. Learn the meaning of being true to yourself.
When I think of a true leader and a true independent spirit who has inspired me to be successful, I think of and study from folk singer and guitar player Ani DiFranco.
I named my cat after Ani because her success came as a result of fierce hard work. To my knowledge DiFranco wasn’t abandoned in the wild, forced to fend for food among literal wolves. But, as a female songwriter in a predominantly male-run business, she cloaked herself and persevered until she had the success and the guts to shake off her mask and sing out from her soul.
After watching DiFranco release album after album, I take so much stock of her ceaseless energy. The only times she didn’t release at least an album a year, complete with tour, is when she had her babies. I know in February 2012 she played on an Atlanta stage with unborn baby rocking in her belly.
One of the single most inspirational things about DiFranco’s success is how she not once stooped to plastic surgery. Her varying hairstyles and sensible makeup never portrayed an ounce of pretentiousness. Aging with grace is something DiFranco shows to all the females who pay attention.
5. Learn to live in the moment.
Living in the moment truly is a difficult task because humans, by design,stress and fret about the future. The one successful individual who most comes to mind when I think of how I’ve mirrored this attitude is Dan Millman. A former world champion athlete, university coach, and college professor, Millman wrote the book “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” as fiction but based on many of his real-life experiences. The movie adaptation struck me as a solid lesson in living life on life’s terms.
When we quiet the bustle of the day, we can hear the buzzing of the bees, and we live in the moment. Life is beautiful and no amount of stressful striving can replace the success that comes from enjoying the life we each have.
6. Take time to truly listen.
A successful person doesn’t necessarily need to be a famous or wealthy individual. Taking the time to listen to those who are successful in love, those who are educated and those with experience can provide the best lessons of all. A grandparent, a parent and even a teacher or coach can have the most impact on your success.
In taking the time to listen you learn how others overcame their struggles, whether from fighting oppression or learning from poor decisions. When we study those who are successful we learn from their mistakes and avoid having to learn everything the hard way.
7. Take calculated risks known as investments.
Many students blindly register for and attend expensive universities, colleges and graduate schools because they think that a piece of paper means more opportunity for success. Look around at those who actually graduate and become successful; following those patterns will help you become successful as well.
Education is expensive, but not as expensive as ignorance. Thinking critically and modeling others will nearly ensure success because the first step involves understanding what you want. One cannot become successful without trying. Even the examples of individuals who seemingly became overnight sensations had a team of people working toward that goal.
In educating yourself, choose a mentor to study. Take notes from that person and how he or she spends time and budgets money. Through studying others who have achieved success, it is possible to become successful.