How to be more successful
If you want to be successful, the old saying goes, find a successful person and do what he or she does. You can learn from successful businesses and programs, as well.
In the early 1990s NASA embarked on a bold, new era. Under Dan Goldin, the agency charted a course for more but less-expensive missions. His mantra, “faster-better-cheaper,” became the agency’s as well.
His vision was first realized in the Pathfinder project. NASA successfully put the mini-rover Sojourner on Mars on July 4, 1997, just 44 months after conception. (The latest rover, Curiosity, is scheduled to land on Mars on August 5.)
In 1998, Flight System Manager Brian Muirhead collaborated with business coach Brian Pritchett to write “The Mars Pathfinder Approach to Faster-Better-Cheaper.” (You can purchase a copy from Amazon via the button at right.) In it Muirhead and Pritchett discuss the 13 lessons learned from that amazing program. Of those, I found 7 to be particularly noteworthy. Each includes a quote from the book and my interpretation.
As the authors write, these lessons “serve as living proof that ‘faster-better-cheaper’ works in deep space as well as it does on Earth.”
1. Set goals that make you stretch. “High aspirations fire the imagination. When we aim our efforts toward something truly special, it stimulates is to think of a completely different scale. Stretch goals force us to go beyond gradual improvements.”
Goals should always be set somewhat beyond our current capabilities. If not, we don’t really grow or improve. Think of weightlifting. If you don’t increase the weight periodically, your muscle mass won’t increase. Same with professional goals. Continually set the bar higher. You may not achieve it at times, but you will learn from the experience. You will also improve dramatically by experiencing something new.
2. Let limitations guide you to breakthroughs. “When you’re feeling cornered by tough, seemingly unrealistic circumstances, maybe the situation is pressuring you toward a breakthrough solution.”
Improving involves facing challenges. Some may seem insurmountable at first. Our initial reaction may be to quit or take a different, safer route. Yet it is by encountering and overcoming challenges that we learn. We learn new technologies, new processes, new strategies. We also learn where to turn for help. I am reminded of an oft-repeated comment in the network marketing world: “If you want to learn how to do it, Google it.” Chances are someone else has encountered your issue, found a way to solve it, and produced a video or blog column about it. Face challenges head on. They become learning experiences.
3. Deliberately choose to do things differently. “You must be willing to abandon your existing approaches. You must actively search for new solutions. Decide to go exploring, and then move on that decision. Experiment. Throw away the rulebook, do things differently, and see what you discover.”
Network marketers can get into a rut, using the same strategies over and over again. If they work, fine. But considering the pace of change in the online world–social media, in particular–online marketers must be constantly evaluating the options available to them. Doing things differently can also add excitement, thereby helping the entrepreneur establish and maintain a brand.
4. Plan…and improvise. “When your plan has a hole in it or fizzles out on you, don’t freeze up. Remain limber and loose. Feel your way along. Don’t stop just because you’re in unchartered territory.”
Flexibility is critical in any business, but especially network marketing. If one marketing strategy isn’t working, either find out why and correct it, or move onto another program. I’m facing that issue now. A postcard program for my primary opportunity hasn’t generated any nibbles. Granted, it’s a limited program (only one card per recipient so far), so my expectations should be modest. Still, a sale on occasion would be nice. It’s time to start thinking of my next strategy. I’ve used several so far. A new one would represent just another step in my marketing journey.
5. Proceed with optimism and a “can-do spirit.” “The ‘can-do spirit’ is a mindset that sustains. This kind of thinking produces a mental toughness that enables us to press on through failure, to see it as part of the learning process and not as a final result.”
This trait is crucial for anyone going into business. You will face many challenges. Chief among them is insufficient sales. A “can-do” attitude allows you to see that, as the authors note, challenges are really learning experiences. They are also a fact of life. Remind yourself that you will overcome these issues and be stronger afterward.
6. Be fully trustworthy. “Trust hinges on openness and honesty, on one’s personal integrity. This means keeping your word, meeting your commitments, and going public if you need help or make mistakes.”
Without integrity, no one lasts in business very long. Customers flee. Vendors refuse to sell. A reputation is tarnished, perhaps permanently. All that is avoidable. Remain honest and true to your word, and you will succeed. Honesty is the best policy, and quite profitable, too. Everyone prefers to deal with an honest business person.
7. Demonstrate passionate commitment to success. “In those situations where our heart gets involved in the effort–where we care fiercely about the outcomes–a ‘give what it takes’ attitude takes over.”
“Failure is not an option,” is a popular mantra in the business world. Realizing that challenges are a fact of life, determined business people drive on. They are committed to succeeding, for the sake of themselves, their businesses, and others. That’s also important, as true success is not grounded in selfishness.
What principles guide you and your firm? What did you learn that helped you become more successful? Feel free to comment below. Also, if you enjoyed this column, could you do me a favor and share it with others? Thanks!
For related reading, see “3 principles to achieve, maintain peak performance” and “Need to make a decision? Get SMART”
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Thanks, Larry. I try to follow them, as well. Whether large or small, a business can benefit by following these types of principles.
Thanks, George. I had this book lying around for sometime, and finally got around to reading it the other day. Was so impressed with it I was compelled to write a column.
Great article, Tom! You’ve made some solid and worthy points!
7 great lessons we should all put into our daily lifes as we strive to build our business.
Thanks for the kind words, Greg. I appreciate it. Your advice/principle is a good one, too.
Every once in awhile I come across a book that offers a lot of great advice. This one is also very interesting, as Brian includes anecdotes from the Pathfinder project to go along with each principle. I hope my other columns are equally valuable to you. Good luck in your business.
Thanks, Adam. I found a lot of good advice in this book, and just had to share it with others.
Great post Tom!
Awesome 7 principles you have shared.. Thanks! Yes “modeling” success will take you on the shortest path to your goals.. Also, helps you avoid many of the obstacles someone new to the industry faces.. Look forward to your future posts =)