If you want to be successful, you should aim to do things better than others. You don’t have to be the best in the world, but you should strive for excellence to achieve ultimate success. And how does one achieve excellence?
First, be passionate about your goals. If you are going to persevere, and do everything required to reach a level of excellence, you should be passionate about the goal, otherwise what’s the point. You may make money, but you won’t be happy and ultimate success has little to do with money.
Second, practise your art. If you are a writer, write more words every day. If you are an athlete, practise your sport more hours than others. If you are a programmer, program more code. It doesn’t matter what it is that you do, keep at it, everyday and you will get better and better until one day you reach a level of excellence. Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour rule in his book Outliers and how those who are the most successful have spent at least 10,000 hours honing their craft. If you are working full time towards this goal, you can reach a level of excellence in 4 to 6 years. Even part time, you can reach 10,000 hours in a decade, which really isn’t that long if the result is excellence.
Third, always continue learning. I don’t care who you are or what you are doing; you can always learn something new. If you learn one new thing everyday or even every week, you’ll soon be ahead of most people who stay at the status quo and do the minimum. Even top scientists on the cutting edge of new discoveries are learning everyday. They may not be learning from books, but rather from their experiments. You can learn from books and from your experiences. Read one book a week and you’ll be well ahead of many with between a quarter and a third of people in North America not even picking up a book in the previous twelve months according to an article in the Vancouver Sun. Pick up a book and read regularly. Read for fun, read for information, and read to learn, but keep reading.
Fourth, embrace your failures. “Wait a minute”, you ask. “I thought we were talking about excellence”. Well, in order to get to excellence you have to make mistakes. Those who look at their mistakes or failures and give up because they just can’t do it or aren’t good enough or smart enough will never reach excellence. When you make a mistake, learn from it and move on. This is about the perseverance that had the Wright brothers take flight and had Edison develop the light bulb. Keep at it, everyday and look at your mistakes and failures as necessary steps towards success. It’s rare anyone will get it right the first time.
Fifth, surround yourself with others who are successful and have achieved a level of excellence. The people you surround yourself with will have an effect on your motivation, persistence and success. You will learn from them and network with them. You will see possibilities you’d never have otherwise imagined. It isn’t entirely impossible to reach excellence in isolation (I say this only because I don’t believe anything is impossible), but it is much, much easier to do if you are surrounded by forces that will help you down the path to excellence.
Strive for excellence everyday and never settle for mediocrity. You have more to give and should experience all life has to offer, enjoy the road to excellence and be everything you dream of being.
Experience. Enjoy. Be.
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