Some of the smartest people I know continuously struggle to get ahead because they forget to address a few simple truths that collectively govern our potential to make progress. So here’s a quick reminder:
#1 – Education and intelligence accomplish nothing without action.
It doesn’t matter if you have a genius IQ and a PhD in Quantum Physics, you can’t change anything or make any sort of real-world progress without taking action. There’s a huge difference between knowing how to do something and actually doing it. Knowledge and intelligence are both useless without action. It’s as simple as that. For some practical guidance on taking action, I highly recommend The Now Habit.
#2 – Happiness and success are two different things.
I know an extremely savvy businesswoman who made almost a million dollars online last year. Every entrepreneur I know considers her to be wildly successful. But guess what? A few days ago, out of the blue, she told me that she’s depressed. Why? “I’m burnt out and lonely. I just haven’t taken enough time for myself lately,” she said. “Wow!” I thought. “One of the most successful people I know isn’t happy.”
I also know a surfer who surfs almost all day, every day on the beach in front of our condo complex in San Diego. He’s one of the most lighthearted, optimistic guys I’ve ever met – always smiling from ear to ear. But he sleeps in a van he co-owns with another surfer and they both frequently panhandle tourists for money. So while I can’t deny that this man seems happy, I wouldn’t classify his life as a success story.
“What will make me happy?” and “What will make me successful?” are two of the most important questions you can ask yourself. But they are two different questions.
#3 – Everyone runs their own business.
No matter how you make a living or who you think you work for, you only work for one person, yourself. The big question is: What are you selling, and to whom? Even when you have a full-time, salaried, ‘Corporate America’ position, you are still running your own business. You are selling one unit of your existence (an hour of your life) at a set price (the associated fraction of your salary) to a customer (your employer).
So how can you simultaneously save your time and increase your profit? The answer is slightly different for everyone. But it’s an answer you should be seeking. The 4-Hour Workweek is a good read on this topic.
#4 – Having too many choices interferes with decision making.
Here in the 21st century where information moves at the speed of light and opportunities for innovation seem endless, we have an abundant array of choices when it comes to designing our lives and careers. But sadly, an abundance of choice often leads to indecision, confusion and inaction.
Several business and marketing studies have shown that the more product choices a consumer is faced with, the less products they typically buy. After all, narrowing down the best product from a pool of three choices is certainly a lot easier than narrowing down the best product from a pool of three hundred choices. If the purchasing decision is tough to make, most people will just give up.
So if you’re selling a product line, keep it simple. And if you’re trying to make a decision about something in your life, don’t waste all your time evaluating every last detail of every possible option. Choose something that you think will work and give it a shot. If it doesn’t work out, choose something else and keep pressing forward.