Sustainable Success is Like Eating an Elephant

We’ve all heard the question; how do you eat an elephant?  The answer, one bite at a time.  Achieving success takes the same approach.  You do things, one step at a time, and if all goes well, you have success.  These steps, some call them behaviors are a big part of being successful in business.  They will apply whether you are the owner, an executive, a manager or someone who aspires to grow professionally.  What are they?

  1. Have passion
    You have to like what you do and also should do what you like. Enjoying what you do, having fun at it, is a key component of sustainable success. Keeping track of the things that you like about what you do, and why you do them, helps keep the passion alive.  So make of list, check it often, update it as necessary and yes, keep score.
  2. Be trustworthy and demonstrate that in all that you do
    Your character is always a key part of sustainable success. If you are known as an ethical person, someone who can be trusted to do the right thing and do it well, success will happen. Lose that trust, and your recovery will be difficult at best.
  3. Don’t be rigid about what you do, accept that there are other ways
    Being set in your ways, being rigid about how you do things, is a career and business killer. Accepting of new ideas, methods and approaches show that you are growing and adaptable to situations that will arise in your business and professional life.  The old adage that change is a constant and that being able to adapt to change are necessary components of success. However, the one thing you should maintain consistency with is your values.  Never compromise on values.
  4. Don’t be afraid to try, even if you have failed before
    Some of the best lessons you can learn come from failure. Anyone who says they have never failed has never tried. Examining why things didn’t go as planned gives you the path to try again and achieve success.  Don’t be afraid to try.
  5. Don’t procrastinate
    Some say strike while the iron is hot. Others, like David Crockett, said, “make sure you are right and then go ahead.  Being able to decide without 100% of the information ensures that you strike a balance between both of those statements.  Wait too long, and you could end up not succeeding.  Don’t wait for all of the information but have enough, then decide and execute.
  6. You are important
    You are important to your success. Ensuring that you are well rested, in good health and that you take care of yourself are an important part of being successful. You cannot do it without you.  So ensuring that you take care of your needs is important.  Self-sacrifice, while noble, must have limitations.
  7. Don’t let your ego take charge
    A healthy ego is a good thing. An unhealthy ego can lead you into trouble. Balancing your ego to ensure that confidence does not become overconfidence is a key attribute to success.
  8. Seek feedback and don’t be afraid of criticism.
    Continuous learning is critical. Seeking information, even if it involves getting information about how you are performing is important. You have to receive feedback from others.  You should find it from customers, employees, peers and even friends who can tell you the truth.  Use the feedback to help your personal and professional growth.
  9. Work and work at working.
    When it is time to work, it is time to work. You can’t put work off, wait for another day to do it or simply get so lazy that nothing gets done. That doesn’t mean you should be all work, but learn how to balance work and play.
  10. Don’t let failure stop you
    You will not be successful 100% of the time. If you are, then you aren’t trying hard enough. Failure is a natural part of business.  Even Colonel Saunders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame failed 100’s of times, as did Thomas Edison one of the worlds greatest inventors.  Use the failure as a strength and turn it into a positive forward moving effort.  Remember, all you have done by failing is discover a way that won’t work.  The successful way is still yours to be found.
  11. Learn something new. Challenge yourself often
    If you stop learning you might as well never get out of bed in the morning. Learning should be a lifelong pursuit.  Educating yourself on new ways, new ideas are important to success.  Don’t be afraid to ask someone to show you how.

Success can be a part of your business and professional life.  Sustainable success should be your goal.  Following these 11 key steps, adapting their behaviors as a part of your life will help ensure that.