A management consultant and author weighs in on the six traits that successful people have in common.
Rainer Zitelmann shares an exclusive excerpt of his new book - How People Become Famous - Geniuses of self-marketing from Albert Einstein to Kim Kardashian.
1 Take responsibility for your life, including your defeats
Successful people share a fundamental belief that the blame for setbacks and crises should not be sought in external circumstances or in other people, but in themselves. They do not regard themselves as the victims of circumstance or of their competitors’ machinations, but assume responsibility for their own failures. However, dealing with a crisis is not just about reestablishing the status quo. Rather, they try to turn challenges into opportunities. They stress that their success is a result of the crises and severe setbacks they have experienced. Entrepreneurs explain that the expansion of their company, the conquest of new markets, key improvements in their company’s strategy or products, were only achieved as a result of severe problems, setbacks and crises.
2 Look for a job that you love
“It’s crazy to take little in-between jobs just because they look good on your résumé. That’s like saving sex for old age.” This comparison comes from American investor Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world. Buffett’s advice is that you should find a job that gives you great pleasure, as well as matching your talents and proclivities. Many people are in a certain job because they decided to do it at the age of 20, or because their parents told them it was the best thing to do. And so they stay in their job for years if not decades, even though it doesn’t pay that well or give them the recognition they deserve.
3 Learn to SELL your achievements
Beliefs such as “quality alone is a guarantee of success” and “modesty is a virtue” prevent so many people from getting on in life. No matter whether you are an entrepreneur, a freelancer or self-employed, if you are not able to showcase what you do in the best light, if you are unable to ensure that the right people hear about your achievements, you will be overtaken by others who know how to market themselves more effectively. If you are an employee, you will soon notice that you are left treading water as colleagues who do know how to beat their own drums effectively are rewarded with promotion after promotion. You may react with bitterness and complain about how unfair the world (or your boss) is. Or you could subject your beliefs to constant self-critical analysis and learn from people who have mastered the art of self-marketing.
4 Don’t get trapped in a routine
If you do your job well, then – assuming your company is doing well enough – you will probably keep your job. However, you cannot expect much more. If you want to earn significantly more than you do today and climb the ranks within your company, you’ll need to do more. Have you come up with any new ideas lately to help your company make more money? Have you come up with ideas for new products or business areas? Have you come up with ideas on how to find new, talented employees? Have you attracted new customers? Have you made suggestions on how your company can cut costs? You think none of these are in your job description? It is because of precisely this attitude that most employees do not advance and their salary does not increase as fast as they would hope.
5 Learn to delegate
Whatever the task, always ask yourself, “Do I really need to do this, or could someone else do it, such as someone on a lower salary?” For example, if you’re doing things that your assistant could just as easily do, you’re wasting the company’s money – and you’re wasting your time. But why do so many people find it difficult to delegate? A popular excuse is, “It will take me so long to explain it, I might as well do it myself.” True: sometimes it does take significantly longer to explain something to someone else than to do it yourself. However, once that other person has learned how to do it, they won’t only do it once, they can do it a hundred times. That’s when the time you initially invested really pays dividends. Some people are also unwilling to accept that if they don’t do a thing themselves, it might not be done as well. It is better in such cases to learn to accept the fact that you might only be 90 percent satisfied with the way something is done – which is often perfectly sufficient. In any case, you will have more time to do things that add more value to your company.
6 Don’t confuse being busy with being efficient
Many employees measure their personal contribution to their company by how long they work, how busy they are, how much they hustle and bustle. Only the least intelligent managers – and no customers – will use this as a yardstick to measure your performance. You’ve probably heard that 20 percent of what you do is responsible for 80 percent of your success. So you should figure out which 20 percent that is – and then focus on just that. For the vast majority of people who don’t make much progress in life, it’s not because they do too little and are too lazy, but because they do too many useless things and too little of what they do really leads to the results that make the crucial difference.
About the author:
Dr. Rainer Zitelmann is a historian and sociologist. He is also a world-renowned author (he has written 25 books), successful businessman and real estate investor.
His latest book: “How People Become Famous : Geniuses of self-marketing from Albert Einstein to Kim Kardashian," will be published on 24 November 2021