Drive. Willingness to sweat, get your hands dirty, do whatever it takes to make it work. Not being afraid to work long hours. Not being afraid to go back to the drawing board.
I have hired many people throughout the years and I often get asked the same question, “what does it take to be successful here?” There is really only one common denominator among all of the people who rise to the top and that is drive. You can have experience and intelligence and eloquence and all of these wonderful attributes will help you along. But if you don’t have drive, well as the great Bob Dylan once said, “you ain’t goin’ nowhere..”
Like I said in my Ingredients post, I can’t teach you how to have drive, so I won’t even try. However, I would like to give some tips for those who do, to keep your fuel burning longer.
1. Know where you’re going. Without direction, drive is a hamster wheel.
2. Put the right people in the passenger seat. A trusted confidant can help you channel your drive into the right activities.
3. Know how to use your brakes. Driving over anything and everyone will only come back to bite you later. Build bridges, don’t burn them.
4. Check your speed. Better to be a consistent 25 mph than zero to 60 in 3 seconds and then back to zero again. Not only do you burn out more quickly but you lose credibility and ground.
5. Refuel often. Take breaks, they’re very good for you. If you’re one of those people who need to schedule everything (like me), schedule in time to relax. I have a war room (an actual physical room in my house where I strategize and whiteboard), which converts to my peace room when I need to relax. I simply light a candle, turn on good music, lay on my couch and de-stress by thinking about absolutely nothing.
6. Pick a good ride. A good product is like a good car: beautiful interior/ exterior alongside awesome performance. Build a product that can outlast or evolve with a changing industry, changing fads/ styles, aging clients or changing generations.
7. Use your time wisely. Similar to above, conduct cost-benefit/ risk-reward analyses or use just general common sense to make decisions. Would you rather spend 50 hours learning to and building a website from scratch or pay $500 for a well-designed template to start? What is the benefit? What is the cost? What is the downside/upside? Would that time be better used developing your product?
8. Reward yourself. If you’re a business owner, you’re rarely going to be told that you did a great job. As your own boss, you need to tell yourself. Reflect on the accomplishments you’ve had thus far and be proud of them. Set milestones for yourself: 20 clients, 50 jobs, $100K revenue, whatever, and treat yourself to a bonus.
9. Emulate the best. Be motivated by the ones that epitomize success in your field. Contact him/her. Let the titan know that you are an aspiring professional and would love some words of wisdom, even better, to treat him out to lunch to pick his brain. If he happens to be a normal human being, he’ll thrive off of the compliment and at worst, say he’s too busy but throw you a few tips. If he’s a total you-know-what, time to find a better role model. Remember success is not just defined by what you do but who you are.
10. Give back. See last. Case in point. One day the rising star you helped out will be posting links to your website with nothing but words of praise calling you his mentor. Rewards don’t get better than that.