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10 tough lessons to make you more successful

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Everyone fails in life, and failure can be a crushing experience. The only thing that separates successful people from the rest is how they respond after they fail.

When facing obstacles, you have to decide if you’re going to let them be the excuse for your failure or if you’re going to make them the story behind your success. When you adopt the right attitude, failure is a great teacher. Failure interrupts your routine and gives you an opportunity to explore new solutions, but only if you have the right attitude.

1. The first step is always the hardest. When you want to achieve something important, that first step is inevitably going to be daunting, even frightening. When you dare to make that first move, anxiety and fear dissipate in the name of action. People that dive headfirst into taking that brutal first step aren’t any stronger than the rest of us; they’ve simply learned that it yields great results. They know that the pain of getting started is inevitable and that procrastination only prolongs their suffering.

2. Good things take time. Success, above all, requires time and effort. Author Malcolm Gladwell suggested that mastery of anything requires 10,000 hours of tireless focus. Many successful people would agree. Consider Henry Ford, whose first two automobile businesses failed before he started Ford at the age of 45, or author Harry Bernstein, who dedicated his entire life to writing before he finally landed a best-seller at the age of 96. When you finally do succeed, you realize that the journey was the best part of it.

3. Being busy does not equal being productive. Look at everyone around you. They all seem so busy, running from meeting to meeting and firing off e-mails. Yet how many of them are really producing, really succeeding at a high level? Success doesn’t come from movement and activity; it comes from focus — from ensuring that your time is used efficiently and productively. You get the same number of hours in the day as everyone else, so use yours wisely. After all, you’re the product of your output not your effort. Make certain your efforts are dedicated to tasks that get results.

4. You will always have less control than you want. There are too many extenuating circumstances in life to control every outcome. You can, however, control how you react to things that are out of your control. Your reaction is what transforms a mistake into a learning experience and ensures that a victory doesn’t send your ego through the roof. You can’t win every battle, but with the right attitude, you can win the war.

5. You’re only as good as those you associate with. You should strive to surround yourself with people who inspire you, people who make you want to be better. And you probably do. But what about the people who drag you down? Why do you allow them to be part of your life? Anyone who makes you feel worthless, anxious or uninspired is wasting your time and, quite possibly, making you more like them. Life is too short to associate with people like this. Cut them loose.

6. Your biggest problems are mental. Almost all our problems occur because we time travel: we go to the past and regret things we’ve done, or we go to the future and feel anxious about events that haven’t even happened. It’s all too easy to slip into the past or jet into the future. When you do, you lose sight of the one thing that you can actually control — the present.

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