Success is Built on Habits, not Defining Moments


success habit small changes big differences

As children we grow up watching Disney movies.  I love Disney movies.  There are heroes and bad guys, and there is always a defining moment where the hero makes a difficult decision involving sacrifice for someone he or she loves.  The sacrifice is heartbreaking but everything works out, and everyone lives happily ever after.

In Disney, defining moments determine the outcome of the story.  Unfortunately too many people think life is a Disney movie; they keep waiting and hoping for their “defining moment.”

Life is not a Disney movie, and there are no defining moments.  A single moment will not determine your success or failure.  In fact, the decisions you make in crucial crossroad decisions are really decided over many years by little things you choose to do or not to do everyday.

Success (or failure) is defined by the little things you do consistently every day for months and years – your habits.  Can you improve just 1/10 of 1% every day?  Just find one little thing every day, and do it slightly better.  You will be 3% better in a month.  You and everyone else will not even notice the difference.  But by 3 months, you will be 9% better, and by 6 months you will be 20% better.  In one year, you will be 44% better.

If you are 44% better at what you do, you are creating 44% more value, and you should get a 44% pay raise every year!

Successful people work on self-improvement every day of every year for decades.  Let’s look at the numbers:

After 2 years, you would be 207% better than your former self and 207% better than all your peers who were not also making a 1/10 of 1% improvement every day.  By now, you are a completely different person.  Your old friends are not your friends anymore.  You no longer understand each other.  Everyone thinks you are talented, how else could you be twice as good at seemingly everything?  Let’s keep crunching numbers:

After 3 years: You are 298% improved

After 4 years: You are 430% improved

After 5 years: You are 619% improved

That’s 6.19 times better than the average guy, making 6.19 as much money.  You can go from being loser to a success story in 5 years just by improving 1/10 of 1% every day.  Once you start winning, you will not stop:

After 10 years: You are 38.4 times better

After 20 years: You are 1475 times better

After 30 years: You are 56,643 times better

This Forbes article claim CEO’s earn 331 times the average worker,  and 774 times a minimum wage earner.

According to this report, the average CEO is 59 years old.  So they have been working at least 35+ years.  So what are CEO’s doing wrong?  They have had 35+ years for self improvement, and they are not even making 1000 times the lowest skilled person in America.  Why does the average CEO make so little?

I crunched the numbers.  If you improve yourself just 1/20th of 1% every day, after 35 years, you will be on the level of the average CEO.  Wow, I just lost a lot of respect for those guys!

Everyone can improve 1/10th of 1% everyday.  In fact if you are just starting out, you can easily improve a full 1% everyday, and at a full 1% improvement, the numbers go crazy.  You are 38.8 times better in just one year!  That means you are a completely different person making completely different kinds of money in just one year.

Success is built by small incremental improvements made consistently every single day.  How do we consistently do something every single day?  We are creatures of habit.  Habits determine our success in life.

What are habits?  Where do they come from?  How can we change them?

I discuss that topic in Habits: Where is Your Autopilot Taking You?

Thoughts?  Post a comment or ask a question.  I will respond!

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This topic was inspired by Brian Tracy’s books. I have read (or listened to) every one of them. I highly recommend any and all of his books.

Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy


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Sam Walton: Made In America

This book is a must read for any aspiring or current business owner.  I read it cover to cover in a few days, and I will read it again every few years.  This single book might be worth more than everything I learned in my MBA combined; it is that good.

Sam Walton was an absolute genius at the following critical success components in business:

1. Understand Your Customer

Money is made by creating value for others and then trading that value for their money.  Understanding your customer (chosen benefactor of the value) is absolutely fundamental.  Sam understood small town America better than anyone.

2. Create Value for Your Customer

Trying to make money is like pushing on a rope.  Focus on creating as much value as possible for as many people as possible.  Making money is and always will be a side effect of creating massive value (there are other options, but I would call them taking money and speculation/gambling).

3. Learn from Others

Sam tells a story that I absolutely love.  He buys his first store without knowing much of anything (and he gets swindled).  He finds himself right across the street from the most successful store in town.  What does he do?  He spends all his time in his competitor’s store picking up ideas and implementing them in his own store!  Sam has probably been in more stores than any human being who ever lived or ever will live.  He never stopped looking for and discovering new ideas from others.

4. Recognize and Recruit Top Talent

Sam was able to immediately recognize winners, and he quickly recruited them for his team.  Every successful business is built on world-class “A players.”  The quality of people determine a business’s success.  I would rather own a business with A players and a mediocre business plan than have the best business plan in the world but try to execute it with mediocre people.

5. The Root Word of Culture is Cult

Life is a believing contest.  If you believe and are in love with your vision of the future more strongly than others believe theirs, others will adopt your vision as their own.  When people believe and fall in love with your vision, they will make that vision reality.

Commit to your business. Believe in it more than anybody else. I think I overcame every single one of my personal shortcomings by the sheer passion I brought to my work. I don’t know if you’re born with this kind of passion, or if you can learn it. But I do know you need it. If you love your work, you’ll be out there every day trying to do it the best you possibly can, and pretty soon everybody around will catch the passion from you— like a fever.”

– Sam Walton

Sam Walton was a genius and self-made billionaire.  If you have not read his autobiography yet, what on earth are you waiting for?

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“Winning:” My Definition

winning heroes story inspiration

Winning has nothing to do with beating someone else. Winning is not anything external at all. It is an internal satisfaction measured within yourself and has nothing to do with other’s perceptions of your achievements. Success is giving your all. The purpose in life is not to get ahead of others but to get ahead of yourself, to break your own records, to work with more force than ever before. The traditional end–wealth or getting first place–only serves as a navigational tool, a marker to give the process direction. The end for me is greater depth and breadth of character. My aim is to become as internally knowledgeable and as externally aware as possible. The process, the experience, the struggle, the hard-won lessons, these are the ends in themselves.

I paraphrased this from Above All Else: The Everest Dream.

Growing up, I LOVED to read as a child.  I actually read too much; I would read 10-12 hours each day.  I loved reading stories about heroes accomplishing amazing feats in extremely difficult situations.  I imagined I was a hero in my own story that someone would read someday.  Heroes do great things.  They fight through impossible odds.  They never give up.  They never give in to pain, weakness, or fear.  Those stories inspired me and drove me to the success I have achieved.  Throughout the years, I have always tried to live up to the standards of my heroes.

Your life is your story.

Someday people will read your story. They will cry your tears. They will celebrate your triumphs.  When you are tired and down; when you think you cannot possibly go on, people are turning the pages hoping breathlessly that you will find the strength to keep going. You will succeed; you have to succeed because there is so much of your story left, and millions will be inspired by the time they finish the last page.

Inspiration is fundamental to achieving success.  If you are in need of an inspirational boost, I recommend Above All Else: The Everest Dream.


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