Be There and Be Aware

Simply by being “in the game” and being serious about trying to succeed will help you win 50% of your competitive battles, and therefore account for half of your success. This is because most theoretically able-bodied workers are apprehensive to fight, and therefore are not well-suited to win while conducting “competitive” commerce on a daily basis.

Working long, hard hours every day, accounts for about another 40% of one’s success, and choosing the right industry is probably responsible for another 8%. In our estimation, luck only accounts for about 2% of the success of proactive entrepreneurs.

So get over the notion of good luck being a reason why people might win in a business environment. Even if luck is an element, it is an uncontrollable one and a minor one. Focus instead on the majority of factors, which can truly be improved daily by your best efforts.

Keep in mind that the smartest people are not always on top. In reality, the person who believes in himself or herself the most, irrespective of their nominal brainpower, is usually the most successful.

You have probably heard the expression, “He’s smart, but he doesn’t apply himself.” This is not a beneficial way to go through school. In business, however, if you feel you aren’t the smartest, then you should make up for it by changing the rules, which you couldn’t have done at school. This would be akin to getting yourself a new teacher, selecting your own schoolbooks, choosing new classmates (teammates), changing school hours, getting leveraged (student) financing, merging and deleting classes at will, or beating up on your peers who were born with higher IQs but are complacent.

You can see that each idea would have helped you be the leader in your class (even if a bit heavy-handed) and is analogous to how you can still lead in the business world. If you could have changed the rules like this in class, you could have attained straight A’s. Fortunately, in business, you are allowed to change all the rules to get top grades as long as you don’t run astray of any laws.

You don’t have to be the smartest to dominate your business niche, but you do have to be among the most assertive and confident.

Attention to detail is one of the most essential qualities that you can develop while you become a leader. Anything that isn’t done completely and correctly will have to be reworked, thereby wasting time and money. If you are not detailed, you are likely to initiate cascading problems that could put you out of business before you have a chance to recover.

Indeed, bad detail in accounting could land you in tax court. Bad detail in law could land your client in jail, and if you are a doctor, you could accidentally kill someone. Bad detail when reviewing references could leave you with an employee who embarrasses you and drains your profits. Bad detail with security could get your store robbed or could facilitate the theft of credit card numbers from your e-commerce web site.

In short, if business areas are not studied and managed in detail, harmful patterns can perpetuate.

Having a sincere respect for time is crucial, too. Since the chance for short-term success in any business is slim, working with a limited time horizon would be corporate suicide.

Equally wrongheaded would be trying to target your “exit strategy” to a short calendar window. Companies should run or appear to run as if they intend to be in business for a hundred years, not as if the management is ready to run out the door by selling or folding the company or getting better jobs (regardless if that is really the case).

Most people are generally focused on their next paycheck, not necessarily on what they could accomplish over longer periods. This is understandable but is still a detrimental mindset to a potentially independent businessperson.

Instead, you should be looking forward over a long time frame, even though you are working day-to-day and minute-to-minute on your high priority tasks. Moreover, you should be thinking about what will happen if you reinforce a sound business strategy consistently over time. Usually, a long-term and focused effort will pay off; short-term get-rich-quick schemes will not. Respect the fact that business leaders usually put in years of dedicated labor to reach their high positions—and you can too if you choose.

Finally, it is essential to know how to multitask. Time and timing is everything, and every second counts. As a result, you will have no choice but to attempt to overlap your tasks. This can be tricky since you may not have enough attention at the right place at the right time.

The need to focus contradicts the need to overlap, however, you can strive to create an optimized balance. Multitasking might be as simple as wearing a headset when you are on the phone, so if you are on hold, you can do other work. Other forms of multitasking could include talking on speakerphone while you drive (carefully!), or working while you are in the airport or on a plane, or typing notes on a contact manager while you talk. Even worse, you could read draft contracts while your family sleeps on vacation, if you’re up to it.

The reason for multitasking is to optimize your time by accomplishing two or more goals simultaneously rather than accomplishing one task at the expense of others. Multitask where it can be effective and won’t harm your other initiatives. This is a great way to assist your competitors in falling behind.

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