Successful People Do This (and it's not what you think)


What It Takes to Be Successful…

I was reflecting on why we judge people to be successful—however we might judge that, and each of us will have our own definition. Whatever meaning you make of those words, there’s often something like this that looks as if it’s contributing to their achievements...

We See Them Doing a Lot of Stuff

We see someone running a lot of workshops, busy with clients, being interviewed about their work, or simply 'out there'. On the surface it looks as if they have it all, and we might hear ourselves (or others) saying this:

Gosh, he / she is doing a lot of stuff; look how successful they are!

Here's the thing, though, we think we're looking at their results—the outcomes that they get once they’ve reached that thing we’re calling ‘success’.

And we think we must have to do the same in order to get to where they are.


…we have it the wrong way round.

The person isn't doing a lot of stuff because they are successful; they are successful because they're doing a lot of stuff.


In other words, what we think is the result is actually what's created the result; the success we see has come from that person being 'out there'—testing, trying, experimenting, taking stock, and then taking another step forwards as soon as they have some feedback.

Don't Race Out to Copy This!

Now, I don't mean that you should immerse yourself in a whirl of busy-ness and do a ton of random things that end up having no purpose at all.

No, not at all. That path leads to exhaustion and disillusionment because you feel like you're not getting anywhere.

What I do mean is that you have to get out of your head and into action. I want you to be inspired, but I also want you to have clarity of action.

Even when -- and especially when -- you have no idea whether your action will lead to the result you're aiming for.

Follow these rules to give yourself the highest chances of success:

1. Qualify What You Do

What happens when we get an idea is that we look far ahead at all the things that might go well -- and we get excited.

And then we look at all the things that might go wrong -- and we become despondent.

Yet, both sides of that scenario are pure imagination. We have no idea how things will really turn out.

We don't know if we will enjoy it, we don't know if people will show up pay what we're asking, and we don't know what they will think when they do. We can only make a best guess in the moment.

Knowing where you want to get to, ask yourself these questions when you're deciding what action to take:

  • Does it inspire me?

  • Does it look like it has at least a chance of delivering the results I want?

  • From what I know, am I providing a service to someone else, or a group of people?

If the answers to those questions look promising, then we can act. And continue to act until we really know whether it's worked or not.

2. Don't Give Up Too Early

And, notice I said "continue to act..."

If you give up the first time you get a rejection, or you start to waver in your belief that you're doing the right thing, then you'll never get far enough to be able to judge whether it's a 'success' or not.

A client asked me a few days ago,

How come I have a tendency not to finish things?

The answer's right there in what I just said...

…he's giving up before he knows whether the project's successful. He's giving up at the first sign of doubt.

Doubts are useful feedback about what's going on in our heads, but they play no role at all in the judgement about whether something's successful.

Which way round is your perspective on success?

When we look at others and we see someone who looks as if they are further ahead than we are, we only see the things they are doing now. We don't see all those things that didn't work out for them: the workshops where two people turned up, the three years, or ten years, learning their craft, the uncertainties they faced up to.

Remember this, the person you are looking at is successful because of all those things they are doing, not the other way round.

With love,


Performance coaching for people who want to change the world.