They say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. That’s true. What “they” don’t often say is that the journey requires a lot more steps beyond the first one. Most great accomplishments aren’t sudden or the result of some magic incantation. Most of them are the result of many small things done well and over and over again for a very long time.
That’s reality. If you want to be successful, you must do the basics over and over with unremitting excellence and diligence. You might think that’s bad news. Here’s the good news.
Most of the things that make for great success are little things. They don’t require world-class talent or special advantages. Everyone can do them. Even you. Even me. Here’s a collection of tiny tools that you can use to build success. Not one of them requires an instruction manual.
When you have a good idea or when you want to accomplish something, don’t spend too much time starting to begin to get ready to think about preparing to do it. Dive in. That’s what most successful people do. They dive in.
Diving in is the fastest way to learn whether your idea is any good or whether you’re on the right track to achieve your goal. But trying doesn’t do much good if you don’t learn from it. Keep simple records, so you know how you’re doing. Carve out time to reflect on how things are going. Try new things based on your experience.
Plan, But Not Too Much
Planning can be fun. When you plan, everything comes out right in your head. That would be great if success happened in your head. You probably don’t need an elaborate plan or an elaborate planning system. You certainly don’t need to spend most of your day planning. Plan just enough that you keep trying things and moving forward.
Instead of massive, complex plans, keep it simple. Use if/then plans for most things. Develop habits that help you do the right thing when it’s time. Set up simple decision rules.
Concentrate on The Vital Few
You’ve probably heard of Pareto’s Law. It says that about 80 percent of your results come from about 20 percent of your efforts. Joe Juran called those high-leverage efforts “the vital few.”
No matter what you want to achieve, there are only a few critical things to pay attention to. Figure out the two most important things you should be doing. Track your performance on those things.
If It’s Important, Do It First
The whirlwind of daily activity has a way of catching us up and spinning us around. Just enough planning means identifying the important one or two things you must do that day. Then, do them first, before the whirlwind can catch you.
Make A Little Progress Every Day
Want to feel good about what you achieve today? Make a little progress. It gives you something to celebrate. And every little bit of progress you make every day moves you closer to the success you seek.
Thanks And Praise
No one is smart enough, skilled enough, or disciplined enough to achieve success all by themselves. Not you and not me. You’re more likely to be successful if you can enlist other people in the effort. Here’s what you should do.
Tell them what you need and ask them for their help. Then, thank them and praise them for their effort and their achievement.
Try things, you make progress and learn more that way.
Keep learning, especially from experience.
Plan, but not too much.
Find your vital few activities and make sure you get them done.
If it’s important, do it first, before the whirlwind catches you.
Make a little progress every day.
Shower the people who help you with thanks and praise