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5 Habits To Keep Raising Your Own Bar For Success

I’m sometimes called to speak to entrepreneurs and executives about strategy, motivation and any other important sounding stuff I can come up with.

I have often found that these are back slapping events where these executives and millionaire-at-25 types seek reinforcement of how “amazing” they are to have achieved what they have achieved.

Boy, do the speakers oblige.

So, speaker after speaker goes up and reinforces the “never give up” and “you’ve made it” messages and they all clap and nod their heads furiously.

When I go up, I open with a single line,

“Don’t believe the hype. You’re not as good as people say you are”.

I might never be called back again but admittedly shock is the goal. I’m right about that by the way.

The bottom line is in a bad situation, you are hardly as bad as you think you are and in a good situation, you are hardly ever as good as people say you are.

There are of course a few exceptions but in an audience, I’m speaking to, what are the chances that the exception is sitting there?

The reason I do that is to sound a warning to everyone who feels that they have “made it”. A warning that life is the longest thing you will ever do and there may yet still be a lot ahead.

It’s too early in the game to close your eyes. You should still grind in order to keep what you have built and also to keep raising the bar.

Early and easy success breeds complacency and recklessness.

Statistics tell us that 64% of people who become millionaires in their 20s go broke before they turn 30 and 55% of those who become millionaires in their 30s suffer the same fate.

That’s a very short lived “making it”, isn’t it?

The question that arises is how to ensure that we remain at the top of our game regardless of the success that we may have attained at any stage or age.

Most motivational and entrepreneurial thinkers focus on what you need to do to bring yourself up from failure. That’s fair enough because that’s definitely a motivational issue.

Very few talk to you about what to do when you see glimpses of success.

It’s the confusion that 21-year-old faces when they get a huge contract or an entrepreneur strikes a million on their first deal.

Let’s address that in this article and help you to keep raising the bar once you’ve seen success on the horizon.

Here are 5 habits to ensure that even with those glimpses of success, you are equipped to keep raising the bar:

Keep learning.

There is great wisdom in understanding that the world is changing faster than it has ever changed before. With each change, there exists an opportunity that you can profit from.

Some of this opportunities are revamped versions of age old opportunities but sometimes they are entirely new and need an adept and flexible mind to exploit them.

The only way to be ready for opportunities like this is to constantly feed your mind. Exercise that cognitive muscle. There’s no other way.

Reading is often the most prescribed way to learn and believe me, if you read you will be in esteemed company (it’s not the only way to learn but I’m sure you know that already).

It is estimated that the world’s billionaires on average read 3.1 hours per day (minus emails) versus just 20 minutes for the average person.

Oprah used to say that she started reading at the age of 3. Elon Musk reads two books at a time. Warren Buffet spends 80% of his time reading and thinking (don’t forget the thinking part).

This tells us that it is folly not to invest time in feeding your mind. It’s actually an investment that pays dividends.

If you toggle between works of fiction and non-fiction it teaches your mind to quickly juggle multi-dimensional concepts in problem-solving. The modern world has very few spaces for one-dimensional people.

Basically, this gets you ready for the modern age problems and gets you in a position to keep pushing that bar higher and higher. That can’t be a bad thing.

Dream.

When people say that someone is “such a dreamer”, it’s usually said in a disparaging way of someone they think will never amount to anything. Gloria Steinem said,

“Dreaming after all, is a form of planning.”

How right she was. Nothing new and inventive was ever done in this world without a dream.

Imagine the fella thinking that he could bring the motor car to the masses. I bet he’d spend hours dreaming about the congestion he would cause on the dung filled streets and he did it.

Or that guy who thought he could contain fire put it in a glass and illuminate rooms.

It all started from an outrageous dream which came to life in shining lights.

Something that simple minded people would look at and tell you to stop dreaming. Little do they know that they need to encourage you to keep dreaming.

We marvel at figures in history like Leonardo da Vinci who invented and defined their era. They were dreamers.

Now we read books about Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Elon Musk and marvel when we do. In truth, they too are dreamers.

This teaches us that we mustn’t stop dreaming. Somewhere in that dream will emerge the idea that will change the world.

I don’t know if people dream like I do but I have edited and incremental dreams. I can imagine something today and with time I improve on it and build on it.

With new information, the dream improves to a point where it becomes an actionable idea. If you’re like me, the message you need to take from this article is to never stop dreaming.

I am proud to be “such a dreamer”.

Invest in the right people.

I’m sure every second entrepreneurial article harps about investing in the right people. I’ll write about it too because the value of the right people can never be overstated.

You see, the greatest secret to entrepreneurial success is the ability to multiply yourself.

I’m not talking about developing a superhero gift that makes more of you (it would be cool though). What I’m talking about is that things should operate as though you were there even you aren’t.

Heck, they should even operate better.

The only way that you can achieve that is to have competent and committed people chasing your dream like it’s their own. The rule of thumb is to hire people who know more than you do about any subject. This ensures quality operations and output every time.

Remember, we’ve said invest in them. Get them on the learning bandwagon too. If you can achieve this successfully, you will be building an incredible crack team that will achieve even your wildest dreams.

Remain objective.

In most old Africa and European cultures, kings used to have praise singers who would compose and recite praise poetry about the King or Chief. It would be colorful, glowing and constant. If you hear it often enough, you would be forgiven if you start believing it.

Nowadays we have newspaper articles, beholden employees and social media that offer praises to any rising star.

Truth be told, the affirmation that comes with this can be motivational and at the most base level, it’s good to hear. The important thing is that in the midst of all the praise, you separate reality from fantasy.

Keep an eye on areas where you need to improve with the understanding that you aren’t perfect and will never be. Keep an eye on things that need letting go of and realize that you still need competent people around you.

Don’t buy into the hype because that breeds complacency and complacency is the kryptonite for any creative mind. Never believe that you’ve arrived. Stay hungry and keep hunting.

Conclusion.

Success kills a passion for achievement more than anything else and often that happens inadvertently because we erroneously believe that we have arrived.

It is important to realize this and work hard to ensure it doesn’t become your downfall.

Keep your mind ticking and learning. It keeps you young and keeps you wanting more.

Place the right people around you, remain objective and chief of all, keep dreaming. You owe yourself that much.

Garikai Nhongo

Garikai Nhongo is the Managing Director of KG&A Advertising in Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe and he is the Group Head of Strategy for the Global Firm. He is also a blogger (www.thinkingentrepreneur.gq and www.garikainhongo.blogspot.com), an entrepreneur and a poet.

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