What exactly separates the successful from the downtrodden, the prolific author from the closet hack, the well-loved executive from the slime ball boss?
The high achieving from the mediocre?
Quite a lot, actually.
One hundred things, to be exact.
- Take responsibility for their actions. In a world filled with avatars, anonymity, and spineless behavior, the individual who “owns” their actions truly stands out from the crowd.
- Know other people look to them for guidance. High-achievers recognize their responsibility to lead others. They recognize that they may serve as an inspiring figure to those around them and use this opportunity to bring everyone up.
- Create their own reality. Reality is but a perception. High-achievers recognize this and craft a reality that works for them, not against.
- Do something about it. If there is a chance to improve their surroundings, they take it. They are driven to action. This sets them apart.
- Never cast the first stone. They make sure their own life is in order before doling out advice to others. The best way to lead is by example.
- Illegitimi non carborundum. High-achievers don’t let the bastards grind them under. When you excel, others will always try to drag you back to their level. High-achievers maintain their resolve.
- Work hard. Success requires effort – gritty, sweat-inducing, back-aching effort. High-achievers show up every single day and put in the hours. This simple act, over time, distances them from the pack.
- Turn the conversation around. When others resort to negativity, they return to the positive. Optimism rules.
- Always have a choice. High-achievers recognize that the choices they make dictate their life’s direction… and every moment is a choice. Even in the most harrowing of circumstances, they see choices. They may not always make the right choice, but at least they make one.
- Have haters. The most important individuals in world history were considered rejects, outcasts, and sometimes insane. They were hated by the masses and their ideas reduced to drivel. And yet their legacies live on because these people mattered.
- Embrace loneliness. The extra mile is never crowded.
- Embrace discomfort. High-achievers see discomfort as growth. They see it as an opportunity to adapt. They embrace it… because work requires pain.
- Are quick to forgive. They accept their own imperfection, which allows them to easily forgive those around them.
- Live honestly. They are honest with themselves – about their strengths, weaknesses, and limitations – and with others. Because honesty will never steer them wrong.
- Write. Across the board, high-achievers tend to have one thing in common: they put their thoughts on paper. They let the paper worry about things. And this planning and introspection allows them to foresee potential obstacles and consider ways to overcome them before they occur.
- Never fail. It’s only failure if you’re not learning from the experience. High achievers learn from everything.
- Move on quickly. They have many demands on their time and attention. Therefore, they cannot afford to dwindle on the past.
- Know when to quit. High-achievers quit early in a process after strategic evaluation. It is much less costly to quit early and pivot than to “stick to your guns” until quitting becomes blatantly necessary, but incredibly painful.
- Don’t compare themselves to others. They focus on their own achievement and realize that comparisons will only cause anxiety and waste their time.
- Take precautions against burnout. They understand that excessive stress can lead to ineffectiveness, so they take the time to relax and recharge before it’s too late.
- Over deliver. They always go beyond what is asked from them and love to surprise others with outstanding “bonuses.”
- Under promise. And at the same time they take precautions to never promise more than they can deliver. This always sets them up for success when they complete the task.
- Are humble. The more magnetic and well-liked high-achievers are content with themselves - they have healthy self-esteem. Therefore, they feel no need to brag about their accomplishments.
- Serve others. High-achievers dedicate their lives to helping others through their craft or medium. They understand that it’s their tribe – their audience of supporters – who are paramount to their success, and they thrive in this type of win-win situation.
- Understand that we are all self-employed. Even those in traditional careers paths acknowledge that, at the end of the day, they choose to answer to themselves, to hold themselves to higher standards. Because achievement births contentment.
- Relish in overcoming obstacles. High-achievers see obstacles as opportunities. Victims see them as roadblocks.
- Are tenacious. They are hell-bent on succeeding, in any capacity. And they will make it happen, no matter what.
- Are self-reliant. They understand how much they can ask of themselves for any given task. They aim for less friction by taking as much responsibility as they can handle.
- But need others. High-achievers also know how important other people are to their success. This truth is the backbone for how they treat others.
- Ship. If perfection stands in the way of shipping, they ship. High-achievers are always shipping – they do not worry about perfection, they focus on delivery. Done is better than perfect.
- Are magnetic. Their passion and drive are contagious. People want to be around them, which naturally increases their magnetism.
- Are enthusiastic. They’re going after their dreams so enthusiasm radiates from within.
- Understand their limitations. High-achievers understand that the only way to transcend one’s limits is to first understand where the limits actually lie.
- Understand their value. Knowing their value gives them the confidence to excel and deliver that value day-in and day-out.
- Exude passion. High-achievers are on a mission – and their passion shows. Act like the person they aspire to be. Even the most successful among us have bigger aspirations, more they would like to achieve. Following a role model is a surefire way to learn from someone else’s strengths… and weaknesses.
- Live by faith. High-achievers believe in something bigger than themselves. They believe they serve a higher purpose than self-interest.
- Begin with the end in mind. They are goal-oriented and formulate a plan for reaching the end.
- Take small steps. They understand that small steps are the only sustainable way to make an impact, to truly facilitate lasting change.
- Track progress. Self-monitoring allows them to pivot when necessary and learn from mistakes. They also ruthlessly hack away at the unnecessary baggage so the journey is as efficient as possible.
- Are patient. They understand that success takes time.
- Have a “take” mentality. Instead of waiting around to be handed something, they choose themselves. They take what they need and go after opportunities. If an opportunity does not present itself, the high-achiever makes her own opportunity.
- Utilizes rituals. They recognize that willpower is limited. They use rituals to streamline their processes throughout the day so as to save as much mental energy as possible for the most important things.
- Talks daily with the lizard brain. Most people just listen to their internal opposition; high-achievers actually talk back. And most of the time choose to defy it.
- Understand the value of a compass. When given guidance from someone they respect, they take it.
- Don’t equate comfort with happiness. High-achievers reject the notion that settling will make them happy. They feel truly alive and content when they’re constantly pushing their boundaries, making themselves uncomfortable.
- Are addicted to feeling alive. They feel most alive when testing their limits, so naturally they excel and positively reinforce this addiction.
- Know that in struggle, you find magic. High-achievers struggle just as much as everyone else, they just see it differently. They see the breaking down and rebuilding process as necessary for growth.
- Recognize that discomfort is a catalyst for progress. Discomfort does not scare them. It is an opportunity to embrace the unknown and move forward.
- Lean into struggle. In the midst of pain, instead of retreating, they lean into it and endure.
- Make time. High-achievers understand that busyness is just laziness in disguise.
- Communicate their value to the world. They’re able to achieve so much precisely because they make their value known to the people who matter.
- Communicate between members of their tribe. The people who matter most to them are those who recognize their value. As long as they nurture this community, their success continues to grow.
- Respect themselves. They respect themselves enough to know that nothing less than their best is ever an option – that living for anything less than their dreams is not only unjust, but a waste of time.
- Respect others. High-achievers understand that other people deserve just as much respect as they give to themselves.
- Respect the path they have chosen. They realize that the path they have chosen is rocky and treacherous, full of people and things that want to get in their way. They do not hope for Easy Street – they expect the Road to Mordor.
- Cultivate the power to focus. They take focus very seriously. After all, intense focus is what allows them to complete and ship when others fail. They’re constantly challenging their focus, fine-tuning it.
- Cultivate clarity. A clear vision is paramount to their success. And it requires constant maintenance.
- Allow themselves to celebrate. They understand the need to celebrate victories, no matter how small. The positive reinforcement goes a long way and keeps them sane.
- Create balance. A body or mind out-of-balance is ultimately detrimental to achievement. The high-achiever remains focused on intense efforts that may tip the scales one way, but is quick to recover when necessary. This balance allows them to create sustainable habit patterns.
- Enjoy compliments. Like all people, they enjoy praise. It validates their effort.
- Give compliments. They have no problem doling out sincere compliments. This attracts people to them.
- Are sincere. When they say something, they mean it.
- Create an optimal environment. High-achievers understand the need for an optimal work and living environment – for productivity and stress reasons.
- Tolerate risk. Their capacity for taking risks is likely what set them apart from the beginning, especially as the risks became more calculated and their returns increased.
- Set a proper pace. They understand that life is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Surround themselves with winners. They believe that you are the product of the five people you spend the most time with. So they don’t waste time with people who will try to drag them down. See #6.
- Are empathetic. Their capacity for putting themselves into the situations of others allows them to connect with people on an important level. It also allows them the opportunity to understand many viewpoints without necessarily agreeing.
- Know when to ask for help. Because they recognize their limits and are secure in their skin, they have no problem reaching out for help when it is necessary.
- Create their luck. If they believe in luck, they sure as hell don’t wait around for it to find them. You’re as likely to find them buying a daily lotto ticket as you are of finding a leprechaun with a pot of gold.
- Reinforce emotional balance. Emotionally unstable people can achieve great things, but only over the short term – before they implode. The high-achiever takes a long-term approach and in doing so, places a value on her emotional well-being.
- Delegate. They know what they need to focus on to have the highest chances of success, and they delegate everything else.
- Believe in themselves unwaveringly. They know they will succeed; it is just a matter of how many times they’re willing to fail and learn from their mistakes before it happens.
- Are willing to do the mundane. They see value in places others do not. They recognize that small, every day tasks add up as long as they keep showing up.
- Cultivate their skills. High-achievers are skilled. Skills can be marketed and sold. They can be fine-tuned and improved upon. On the other hand, generality will always be generality.
- Say ‘no’. They know when to get rid of distractions. And they learn how to avoid overextending themselves.
- Doubt themselves. High-achievers have intense periods of self-doubting like everyone else. How they respond to it, however, is completely different.
- Read. They appreciate the knowledge of those before them. They appreciate good teachers and wisdom because it saves them years worth of trial-and-error in their own lives.
- Are talented. And not necessarily because they were born that way – but because they chose to be.
- Prioritize. They understand what needs to be done now, soon, and in the future.
- Start young. Most high-achievers are driven as children. And their successes and failures during childhood shape how they carry out the remainder of their lives.
- Monitor feedback. High-achievers get more feedback than other people – partly because they ask for it, and partly because they put themselves out where they can be criticized – they make themselves uncomfortable. They ignore the haters and learn from constructive criticism, and continue to grow as a result.
- Will challenge dogma. They generally have no issues challenging the status quo. Heck, it’s what drove them away from mediocrity in the first place.
- Exhibit poise. Even under pressure the high-achiever will remain poised and calm enough to complete the task at hand and continue to ship.
- Self-educate. Most high-achievers are obsessive self-educators. Why? Because pushing boundaries requires that they be constantly learning, constantly making connections that others do not see.
- Have intense insecurities. High-achievers generally have as many, and possibly more, insecurities than others. But it’s these very insecurities that drive them to high performance as a compensatory response.
- Live in the now. They do not worry about the past. And they plan for the future. But anything more requires too much wasted energy.
- Rest. High-achievers know the importance of rest and relaxation. Some may meditate or exercise, while others may do something else that fits them.
- Are sensory goal oriented. They translate goals into tangible steps – things they can see, touch, feel, and hear. This allows them to truly experience the process every step of the way.
- They do not make excuses. Making excuses is a weakness reserved for the complacent and mediocre. A high-achiever owns their actions.
- Try to bring others up with them. High-achievers are not selfish. They realize that others look up to them and are willing to help these people succeed as well.
- Don’t take people for granted. They treat others by the Golden Rule.
- Understand the importance of stress. They know that some stress is necessary if they are to ever grow and develop, but that too much can be detrimental.
- Respect money. They do not solely seek money. They operate on a higher level – one focused on purpose. However, they appreciate the opportunities that money provides and the freedom it can facilitate.
- Give freely. They’re gracious and grateful for they opportunities they have in life and are willing to freely give of themselves to help others along the way.
- Prepare. Preparation keeps the high-achiever from unpleasant surprises with regards to anything within their control.
- Leverage their intelligence. They understand the gift of intelligence, and no matter how much or how little they possess, they leverage it to get optimal returns.
- Address anxiety. They recognize the reality of anxiety and take the proper measures to quell it before damaging opportunities.
- Value physical health. They understand that the fundamental root of all thriving in life lies in their health.
- Know that high-achievement is a cycle. High-achievers positively reinforce their actions in order to feed the achievement cycle, driving them to bigger and better things over time.
- Take a hard look in the mirror every day. They’ve made the decision to define themselves, to look in the mirror every morning and return the gaze with a purposeful, fulfilled individual.
every door, whispers across every earlobe.
It drags our souls out to bask in the sun of complacency--the silent killer.
No, what we need are more self-defined go-getters, more people who are willing to take
risks and own the outcome, to tenaciously strive for excellence in all that they do, and to
elevate those around them in the process.
We need more high-achievers.
Will you answer the call?