While we all answer this question differently, there are common denominators those who achieve at the highest levels share when answering them. Two of those common denominators are Commitment and Discipline.
Let’s explore each.
The other day, I was in an Uber on my way home from work when the driver and I struck a conversation about what we do for living. During our conversation, he told me that while he was a Lyft and Uber driver, he aspired to become a software engineer. He also went on and told me that it would never happen because he didn’t have the time to gain the education needed for this profession.
As I listened, I couldn’t move past what he said about not having the time, so I asked him, “what time do you go to bed?” He said, “really late, usually around 1 AM.”
“OK”, I responded, “what time do you wake up?”
“Around noon,” he said.
While he’s explaining his sleep schedule, the wheels are turning and I’m doing the math in my head. That’s roughly 11 hours of sleep.
“Out of curiosity Jamal, how old are you?”
“29” he replied with enthusiasm.
“29!” I exclaimed. “Jamal, you don’t need any more than four hours of sleep at 29. That means you have seven hours each day that you could spend pursuing your dream if you’re willing to commit to it and make the sacrifice.”
Jamal chuckled and scoffed at the notion of getting only four hours of sleep because, in his own words, he loves sleep too much to get up earlier than he does. And there it is...
Jamal is not alone. In fact, he’s probably like most people who have dreams or aspirations, but haven’t reached the conclusion of what it takes to achieve them and succeed. It’s not that Jamal doesn’t have the time, he’s just not willing to make the commitment that his dreams and aspirations require. Are you?
"Success is easy," said no one.
Most people think success comes from good luck or enormous tallent, but many successful people achieve their accomplishments in a simpler way: through self-discipline.
One of my favorite books on this subject is Brian Tracy’s No Excuses: The Power of Self-Discipline.
This book is written for the ambitious, determined men and women who want to achieve everything that is possible for them in life. It is written for people who are ‘hungry’ to do more, to have more, and to be more than they have ever been before.
The most important success principle of all was stated by Elbert Hubbard, one of the most prolific writers in American history, at the beginning of the 20th century. He said, “Self-discipline is the ability to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.”
Self-discipline is the key to personal greatness. It is the magic quality that opens all doors for you and makes everything else possible. With self-discipline, the average person can rise as far and as fast as his talents and intelligence can take him. But without self-discipline, the person with every blessing or background, education, and opportunity will seldom rise above mediocrity.
The common denominator of success is that “successful people” make a habit of doing the things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do. And it turns out that the things that successful people don’t like to do are the same things that failures don’t like to do either. But successful people do them anyway because they know this is the price they have to pay if they want to enjoy greater success and rewards in the future.
One of the items people don’t like to do is spend time on personal and professional development. Dee Hock, founder and former CEO of Visa advocated investing the biggest portion of your time (at least 40%) to managing yourself. That means investing in the development of YOU.
I have a wife and two beautiful little girls - both under the age of three - who all need me for different reasons, so the only way I can remain committed to my own personal and professional development, and to them, is to wake up at 4:32 AM, which is exactly two hours before they wake up. It’s my time to read, write and workout - all things that sharpen my “spear” and help me achieve my success.
Do I like waking up at 4:32 AM? Absolutely not, but I remind myself of Sir Isaac Newton’s 1st Law of Motion: A body at rest, stays at rest while a body in motion, stays in motion. Often, a 4:32 AM wake-up call means four hours of sleep or less, so it’s a grind to get out of bed when the alarm goes off and hits me in the head like a jackhammer, but that’s where the self-discipline comes into play. Getting out of bed and to the gym before 5 AM is my first victory of the day and it's the first step towards MY success.
You see, I subscribe to the idea that things get better when we get better. Waking up at 4:32 AM, so I can get to the gym clears my mind, sets me up to face anything the day throws at me and is an investment into my personal and professional development.
To be successful, or to reach peak performance, you must first commit – commit to yourself and to your cause(s) – then, you must maintain the level of self-discipline your commitment and cause require. If you do, you will surely achieve YOUR success.