1. Mary Barra: Do something You Are Passionate About
The CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra’s advice is to do something we love. In her own words,
“Do something you love. If you are doing something you are passionate about, you are just naturally going to succeed, and a lot of other things will happen that you don’t need to worry”.
You don’t know how long you are going to need do the things you are currently doing until you reach your vision of success. That’s why it is quite common for you to hear a lot of these successful people telling you not to aim for the money. Instead, you should do something you are passionate about. It takes great determination to keep on going, especially when the odds are stacked against you. But if you are doing something that you love, as Mary Barra put it, you are naturally going to succeed.
2. Maya Angelou: Forgive Yourself
Maya Angelous was an American author, poet and civil rights activitist. She said that it is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes–it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you should forgive yourself and say, “Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better“.
It is very easy to blame yourself for the mistakes you have made before. But by realizing that those mistakes can be a very good platform for your growth, you can discover more about yourself and ultimately, your true potential. The co-author of “The Effortless Entrepreneur”, Daylle Deanna Schwartz said “people get into trouble because they try so hard to be perfect and then they beat themselves up when they’re not”.
Instead of trying so hard to pin the blame on yourself for those mistakes, look at it as part of your learning curve instead.
3. Richard Branson: A Setback is Never a Bad Thing
The Founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson has provided us with a very good perspective on learning from our mistakes. He said,
I never see a setback as a bad experience. It is just a learning curve.
As a serial entrepreneur, Richard Branson has had his own fair share of setbacks. He nearly failed when Virgin was in its early years. But through a combination of luck and planning, both of them (Richard Branson and the company) made it through the difficult period and prospered. From his setbacks, he learned very quickly to use them as a platform to learn more about the business. One lesson that is valuable to learn is the ability to adapt quickly to changes, and another is the ability to be quick to accept that something is not going well and either change tack or close the business.
4. J.K. Rowling: Embrace Failure
Seven books and eight blockbuster films later, the Harry Potter brand is valued at over $15 billion. Over 400 million copies of the Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide and translated into 67 languages. It is a massive success.
But when J.K. Rowling had just started out almost fifteen years ago, it was a very difficult time for her and her daughter. She had faced a lot of rejections from literary agents until her work was finally accepted by Christopher Little, providing her with the springboard to turn her work into the success that we know today.
And during Rowling’s speech that she gave at a Harvard Commencement, she said something that could really resonate well with us,
“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default“.
5. Helena Foulkes: Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Helena Foulkes is the Executive Vice President of CVS Health Corporation. Her advice for those who strive to be successful in their lives is:
“You know what the finish line is that you really want to get to but, along the way, it’s not always pure joy. There are really hard moments. But if you keep your eye on the prize, it’s part of what drives you to get there”.
We often find examples of this attitude when we listen to stories of how highly successful people became successful.
Donald Trump is probably one of the best known entrepreneurs out there because of the reality show, “The Apprentice”. Forbes currently estimates his net worth to be at $4 billion.
What’s interesting is, he was in tons of debt in the late 1980s and by 1991, his increasing debt brought him to business bankruptcy. However, he did not take his eyes off the prize. He fought back by putting his focus back on his business and the late 1990s finally saw a resurgence in Donald Trump’s financial situation. He knew what he wanted and with his eyes on the prize, he was able to achieve the massive amount of financial success that we know him for today.
6. Indra Nooyi: Never Stop Learning
The Pepsi CEO, Indra Nooyi insists that we should never stop learning. She has said:
“Wherever we are in our lives, whether we are entry-level employees fresh from college, or a CEO, we don’t know it all. Admitting this is not a sign of weakness. The strongest leaders are those who are lifelong students.”
It is much easier for your learning process if you walk into all of the lessons that your life is giving you, by assuming you don’t know everything because by being a know-it-all, you are already pushing away the opportunities for you to learn something new, which could be very useful in your journey toward success.
In the words of Albert Einstein, “the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”
Joel Gascoigne, the co-Founder and CEO of Buffer demonstrates this point perfectly. Before Joel launched Buffer, he decided to test whether people would use the product and in order to do that, he created a minimal two page website without building the product at all.
He then shared the website with his followers on Twitter. When a few people visited the website and put in their emails, Joel began sending them personalized emails, asking for their feedback about Buffer. After he had received enough feedback, he got to work and built the full product.
Stories like this exhibit the nature of highly successful people. They never stop learning. Imagine if all of the successful people in the history of mankind settled only for their first major breakthrough, would the world be as magical as it is today?
7. Eric Schmidt: Say Yes to Things
Google’s Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt advises young people to find a way to say yes to things.
“Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job. Yes is how you find your spouse, and even your kids. Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means you will do something new, meet someone new and make a difference in your life, and likely in others’ lives as well. Yes is a tiny word that can do big things. Say it often.”
It is very easy to say ‘yes’ to things, however it is not easy to follow up on this because it requires action, commitment and engagement from you.
When you say yes to an opportunity, you have to be prepared to do the all work that is required to keep your end of the bargain. However, with practice, as well as (again) action, commitment and engagement, this habit will be beneficial for your growth as you are able to learn more and build connections and trust with more people.
It is also a very good practice for character-building, to mold you into the person who is prepared to do what is necessary to turn your dreams into reality.
8. Mark Zuckerberg: Listen to Yourself
We must have faith in ourselves. That’s according to the Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. His advice for young people, in his own words, is:
“The most important thing is to just have faith in yourself and trust yourself. When you’re young, you hear that you don’t have experience to do things, that there are people that have more experience than you. But I started Facebook when I was 19”.
Almost of us who want to be successful will encounter people, including those who genuinely care about us like our parents and spouse, who will doubt what we do. This is simply because they cannot see clearly what we are currently seeing in our minds. In our minds, we have this great image of us being very successful doing what we are currently doing.
The founder of TOMS Shoes, Blake Mycoskie’s words resonate well with Mark Zuckerberg’s advice:
“If you organize your life around your passion, you can turn your passion into your story and then turn your story into something bigger–something that matters”.
No matter how young you are, you are still never too young to achieve something significant in your life and be successful. There will always be people who will tell you that it is not possible for you and all the good ideas are already implemented elsewhere anyway. But remember, Zuckerberg did say, “I started Facebook when I was 19”