I can’t promise you’ll be as successful as Warren Buffet or Bill Gates or whoever it is you think is super-successful.
But I can promise that if you commit to doing the following, each and every day, you will quickly be a lot more successful:
1. Walk away from gossip.
Gossip is often hard to resist.
Gossip also diminishes everyone involved.
Shift the conversation. Or walk away. Sure you’ll be different. But that’s okay; do you want to be like the people who gossip? (After all, although most people like gossip… but most people don’t like the people who gossip.)
Delightfully successful people talk to other people instead of talking about them – unless they’re saying great things. That’s part of what makes them delightful.
2. Spend five minutes in another person’s shoes.
For five minutes, focus on what your manager needs. Forget your job description: What does your manager hope to accomplish? What are her goals? What are her targets? What are the leadership issues she faces? What can you do to make her more successful?
Or focus on a customer. Forget what you provide: What does that customer hope or need to accomplish? What are his goals? What are his targets? What can you do to make him more successful?
Or focus on a particular employee. What are her career goals? What is she struggling with that impacts her performance? What can you do to make her job more fulfilling and rewarding?
The answers will surprise you. Maybe what your manager really needs is to rescue a high visibility project. Maybe what your customer really needs is to fight off a new competitor. Maybe what your employee really needs is an occasional opportunity to express creativity in her heavily process-based position.
Every day, spend a little time thinking about what someone else really needs and help them get it, even if the effort required falls outside your job description or typical focus or business as usual.
The best way to build your own long-term success is to help other people succeed.
3. Give one person unexpected praise.
Ask anyone if they receive enough praise and they’ll likely say no; we all, at least at times, feel under appreciated. Go out of your way to recognize a person who did something well: A colleague, a manager, a customer, a vendor… all you have to do is say, “I was really impressed by how you…”
Praise costs nothing to give but is priceless – and memorable – to the person who receives it. Appreciating other people, especially people who may not expect it, creates a solid and lasting connection. Just make sure that the praise is authentic and genuine. Once you start trying to adopt this habit, you’ll find it is easy to find something every day that someone has done that is praiseworthy.
And it “brands” you in an awesome way.
4. Do one thing no one else is willing to do.
Do the same things as everyone else and your career success will be the same as everyone else.
Do a little extra research. Put in a little more prep time. Revisit what others assumed was a dead end. Take one more shot at salvaging a damaged customer relationship. Make one more phone call, send one more email, reach out one more time.
Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do that others aren’t willing to do.
The best opportunities often lie waiting in soil that hasn’t been cultivated. Every day, plow one row other people will not.
5. Shine the spotlight on one person.
You’re in a meeting recapping the progress on a warehouse automation project. You share milestones achieved and dependent tasks completed. Great.
Now take one extra, small step. Say, “I’d like to thank Liz for jumping in to help us sort out the logic issues in the routing software. Without her we never would have pulled this off.” It takes ten seconds to say… but means the world to Liz.
Find opportunities to publicly praise other people and soon everyone will know you are one of those rare people who shine the spotlight on others.
And soon everyone will want to work with – or for – you.
6. “Sell” one thing.
The ability to sell is key to business and personal success.
But not used car-style sales. Selling doesn’t involve pressure or manipulation. Selling is the ability to explain the reasoning, logic, and benefits of a decision or a perspective in order to get buy-in. Selling is the ability to overcome skepticism or doubt. Selling is the ability to convince other people to go where you want to go.
When you can stay confident and focused when others disagree, when you can communicate effectively to a diverse range of people, when you know how to build long-term relationships… then you can be successful in a wide variety of fields and pursuits.
Every day, practice selling. Convince someone to try something new. Convince someone to let you help them out. Convince your manager a new initiative will pay off.
Learn how to sell and you can do almost anything… because you’ll know how to get awesome people to work with you.
7. Give one person an unexpected hand.
Most people try hard not to ask for help. They see requesting help as admitting to a lack of knowledge, or a lack of skill, or a lack of expertise… basically, they see asking for help as a sign of weakness.
Even though they don’t ask, everyone, at least some of the time, needs help.
So find a way to help that isn’t threatening. Say, “Hey, I’m swinging by accounting… is there anything I can do for you while I’m there?” Say, “Hey, I finished up a little earlier than I thought and I’ve always wanted to learn about (that)… can I help you for a few minutes?” Offer to help in a way that feels collaborative instead of gratuitous or patronizing. And then actually help.
Soon you’ll be a person other people feel they can count on and can actually feel comfortable asking for help.
And that means others will see you as a real leader… even if you’re not in a formal leadership position. Yet.
8. Admit one failing.
Say you were wrong. Say you are sorry. Make a joke at your own expense. Ask someone for help (because that implicitly shows you don’t have all the skills or answers.) Admit you bit off more than you could chew.
Admit you aren’t perfect.
When you do, you’ll find it much easier to work to improve your weaknesses. Plus you’ll find that other people will gladly help you, usually without being asked.
Admit you aren’t perfect and you’ll also like yourself more, not less. Admit you aren’t perfect and other people will like you better, not less.
Good things always happen when other people like you – and just as importantly when you like yourself.Dharmesh Shah is founder and CTO at HubSpot and blogs somewhat regularly at OnStartups.com. You can also find him on twitter: @dharmesh.