There is nothing more inspiring than witnessing greatness, and watching those who have dedicated their entire life to a craft. Most haven’t thought about greatness, because they don’t think it’s possible.
In a time of insurmountable change, overwhelming complexity and relentless competition, going after greatness is a viable way to rise above the noise. Most people grow up fitting in, because that’s what is expected of them. You get reprimanded and disciplined if you speak up, act out or try to be "different" in school. Well, in entrepreneurship and business, being different is how you separate yourself from the herd. By that, I mean stand out versus fit in and differentiating yourself instead of comparing yourself to others.
Earl Nightingale was one of the first business philosophers of our time said something I’ll never forget:
“If you were setting out to accomplish something and you had no role models to emulate, you could get a good start by looking at what everybody else was doing - and not doing it.”
How do you know if you’re even built for greatness? And if you are, can you handle being the best? Here are the five reasons why, sadly, most entrepreneurs will never reach greatness:
1. They don’t love failure.
Through adversity comes greatness, and through failure comes a sharper perspective, but only if you analyze the experience. Success won’t happen unless you’re willing to sacrifice and suffer. How you respond to failure determines your success. A high tolerance for stress and failure is a skill successful people are highly paid for.
You must understand failure is a crucial part of growth, and is a good thing if approached with the right perspective. When you understand failure is a good thing, you take it on with courage and confidence. You become wiser and can make more educated decisions when you have a higher understanding about what you have failed in, whether it’s life or business. You must stay loyal to yourself through failure. Don’t be too tough on yourself during failure. You must always be building your confidence. Most start beating themselves up, but the select few leverage failure for even greater success.
2. They take way too many opinions.
We learn so much from what we hear, and those dedicated to greatness are very selective listeners. A lot of entrepreneurs are quick to take opinions from anybody giving them. Start listening to voices of value, and to those who have the experience, ideas, and reputation you’re striving to emulate. Listen to people you would trade places with, and listen to people who have already experienced the success you’re aiming for.
Become an observer of those who are winning and those who are losing. Take mental notes of the habits, attitudes, perspectives of the people achieving and living a good life. Learn all about your industry, your subject, and study what the top people do. A smart person learns from their mistakes, as all leaders do, but those who operate at a world-class level shorten their learning curve by learning from others people’s mistakes and not wasting time making the same ones.
3. They can’t give up the need to be liked.
Do you care what people think about you? It shouldn’t matter if you stay true to yourself and live authentically. The reason most don’t take risks, live on the edge or push the envelope is the fear of what others might think of them. If you want to live the life you truly deserve, the one of significance and fulfillment, you must give up the need to be liked by everybody. As Will Smith said, “Trying to get everybody to like you is the most common chosen road to mediocrity.”
The more you fear people, the less effective you will be. Somebody who worries about the opinions of others will live in fear and never take action. Those who are so confident in who they are, and what they believe in, will take massive action because the opinions of others don’t affect their mindset. Only when you give up the need to be liked can you live a life of success and significance. Stay fearless in everything you do, and remember, comparison is the root of all misery.
4. They aren’t obsessed.
Warren Buffet summed it up best: “Obsession is the DNA of greatness.”
Obsession is the hallmark of genius. If you aren’t obsessed with what you do, greatness will remain a fantasy. Have a deep passion for your craft, because your passion will keep you going when you feel like giving up. Genius is not genetics. It's persistence in a specific craft, along with deep daily practice. Be a specialist, and whether it’s your business, your sport or a specific skill, stay obsessed. Don’t try to be great at 50 things. Be obsessed about the few things that can really move your life and business forward. Remember, “Never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about.”
5. They hang around toxic people.
If you want to become legendary, study legends. A lot of people talk about greatness, but hang around mediocrity. The people around you should energize you, not deplete your energy. Make sure you’re around people who challenge you and hold you accountable instead of letting you off the hook. This is one of the greatest ways to increase your peace of mind, energy and motivation.
Say goodbye to the people who suck up your energy and don’t make you feel exceptional. Your standards will rise and fall based on who you associate with. You won’t believe how much stress is released once you decide to minimize your time with those who complain, play the victim role and make excuses.