Because I do a lot of public speaking, I have developed a deep appreciation for top-notch speakers. So when I was brainstorming and looking for a real show-stopper to address a group of business people I am mentoring, I asked Darren Hardy, publisher of SUCCESS magazine to be one of our presenters.
Darren is in the rare position to interview the most celebrated achievers on the planet to discover how they have created their extraordinary success. Astute SUCCESS readers use the advice to achieve more and lead greater fulfilling lives.
Darren's message, three productivity secrets of superachievers, was a real eye-opener. Number one might surprise you, because so many people want to know what individuals like Richard Branson do to create great results. But the answer is just the opposite. It's not what they do at all. It's what they don't do, according to Darren.
Saying "yes" is easy, he said. There's no hassle in saying yes. The master skill, however, is saying "no." Everyone can say yes. No is hard because it causes conflict in relationships.
When Darren got a chance to interview Warren Buffett, he asked him the question that everyone wants answered: "What would you attribute your grand success to?" The key to his great success was this: "For every 100 great opportunities that are brought to me, I say 'no' 99 times."
Darren asked the late Steve Jobs, "Of all the things that you have built and created, that have changed the world, what are you and Apple most proud of? His answer was, 'I'm as proud of what we don't do as I am of what we do.'"
Distinction number two of superachievers is to learn to focus on the vital few.
"A lot of us try to become master of many things," Darren said. "We try to be great at a lot of things, and as a result, we don't ever become world class at a few things. Look at Olympic athletes, entertainers, Nobel laureates or Albert Einstein. They were all world class at just a few things. The rest of their lives they were pretty mediocre."
Darren makes the point that long hours are very different from hard work. Hard work is doing the few things that are hard to do but produce the big results.
"A great confusion for a lot of us is that we think there are all of these functions we need to be involved in and we need to be great at," he added. "Really, like anything in life, there's about a half dozen vital functions that you need to become excellent or brilliant at in order to create gargantuan success."
What are your vital functions? What are the three vital functions that only you can do? What are the three functions that contribute the most to the success of your business or job? If you take the time to write them down, it will force you to focus your attention on what it is you should be doing every day.
Darren's personal goal is to spend 90 percent of his time on his three functions. Best-selling author Jim Collins says if you have more than three priorities, you don't have any.
Steve Jobs learned when he was running Pixar that there's great power in working on just one big thing at a time. When you can get your whole staff to focus on one thing, their creativity is off the charts. That's why Jobs and Apple did one thing at a time. They did the iPod. Then they did the iPhone. Then the iPad. Then they did retail - one big thing at a time.
The final distinction of superachievers, according to Darren, is that they've developed unconscious habits of success. As Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do."
Darren explained: "When you repeat an activity over and over, the reason why it becomes an unconscious habit is it develops what's called a neurosignature. It actually burns a brain groove. Every time you do something, it continues to reinforce this brain groove and we become what we practice the most."
You can read more of Darren's advice in his book, The Compound Effect, which I highly recommend. Especially helpful are the five ways to change bad habits and seven ways to install success habits. Bottom line: You have to develop a daily routine that will lead you to success.
"If somebody were to ask me what's the one attribute that I would attribute my success to, it would be the ability to stay consistent." Darren said. "Staying consistent creates momentum."
Mackay's Moral: Lots of people start, but few people finish.