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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

11 Ways You Can Keep Getting Ahead—No Matter What You Do

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Most people think in order to succeed you need talent. And it’s true that for most business and management and leadership success you do need at least some degree of talent.

But there are ways you can succeed, and succeed greatly, even if you have zero talent:

1. Believe in Yourself

When you believe in yourself, you can turn every adversity into ambition and every ambition into success. When you believe in yourself and all of who you are, something inside is telling you that you are greater than any obstacles, and if you need to you will fight like hell to succeed. Psychologists for years have been telling us that we are each architects of our own reality. And they are absolutely right—when we think we can, we actually can. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, talent or no talent.

2. Have a Positive Attitude

When you have a positive attitude, you can see the bright side of things, and you look for the silver lining. That makes it easier to think of things that are going right instead of things that are going wrong. Optimists see opportunities and possibilities in everything that happens, positive or negative. When you look for the good in every situation and in every person, everything seems to carry a valuable lesson. You’ll never experience setbacks, just new learning experiences.

3. Respect Time

How we choose to spend our time defines and differentiates us as individuals. Time is indeed a precious and finite commodity, and those who respect it know how to use it wisely to achieve the greatest results. Time can be wasted, invested, or respected. It doesn’t matter what your title is, your position, your role, what company you work for, where you went to school, or what continent you live on—you have 24 hours in a day—1,440 minutes, 86,400 seconds—the same as everyone. How are you spending yours? If you want to do more, make more, gross more, serve more, influence more, or significantly change the level of your impact in any area, you simply must respect time.

4. Tap Into Passion

Passion is the fuel that ignites dreams to become realities. It’s the difference between having a job you like and having a career that’s successful. Connecting with your passion is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do something you love, you will always succeed.

5. Do What’s Right Even When It’s Not Easy

We can always choose how we act and how we behave—we can always choose right over wrong. Doing what’s right is not always the popular thing, which is why it’s critical to ground yourself in deeply held values. Knowing what you stand for is a uniquely powerful fuel for success, especially when the going gets tough. You’ll be tempted to take the easy route, but if you’re driven by doing what is right it’s easy to resist.

6. Take Control

Many things are out of control, but there are always some things you can control. Let go of the things that are out of your hands and take control where you can. You can do this by educating yourself so that you have all the information you need to always make an informed decision and take purposeful action. Decision and action are essential to successful achievement—but only if they’re not wasted trying to control the uncontrollable.

7. Be Prepared

There’s an old saying: Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Being prepared allows for those unexpected moments to be less unexpected, and it keeps you accountable. When you always come prepared you don’t allow the unexpected to stop you, because you’re always thinking and moving ahead. The ones who succeed are the ones who are ready when opportunities come.

8. Be Kind

Kindness has vast potential; one kind word can change someone’s entire life. Kindness, appreciation, and acknowledgment cost nothing and mean all the world. Give without expecting anything in return, and your kindness and character will serve as your most valuable wealth.

9. Do Your Best

Doing your best is more important than being the best. Especially when you’re starting something new or making a big change, you need to bring your best effort, persistence, and determination. If you allow fear, doubt, and worry to be present they will only slow you down. But if you focus on doing your best, you won’t have time to worry about failure. As they say, what you plant now you will harvest later.

10. Go the Extra Mile

An important principle of success in all walks of life and in all occupations is a willingness to go the extra mile. That means giving more and better service than people expect, going beyond the expected. It takes character, but it doesn’t take talent. It requires that you give of yourself in ways that most people aren’t willing to do. It builds sound character, leads to a better service orientation, and develops the important quality of personal initiative, each of which is essential for success.

11. Help Others

Helping others should be a natural extension of what you do, but it doesn’t come as easily as it should. Too often the trend in our society is for people to be separated from each other, making it easy to get too caught up in our own problems to give people the help they need. But when we choose to help someone out, we make our own life more meaningful. Zig Ziglar once said that you can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

You don’t need talent after all—but you do need the willingness to take responsibility for your success and character.

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