7 Ways to Help Yourself (and Others) Be Successful

UPDATED: January 22, 2020
PUBLISHED: July 11, 2017

1. Give back.

There is an astute knowingness in understanding that we all have a limited perspective or lens. I have one, you have one and everyone who walks this earth has a limited perspective. And for a great many years, we as a collective have convinced ourselves that our differences are a hindrance, when in reality our differences are the very thing that makes each of us uniquely talented in ways other people are not. When we honor these differences and celebrate them for their uniqueness, we open up an entirely new kaleidoscope of possibilities we might not otherwise be able to see.

If everyone asked, “How can I help?” as opposed to “What can I get?” we would start to see a much different world take shape around us.

The universe aligns its bounty for a generous heart. We must take that first step toward serving the greater good. This is the greatest act of service we can offer. When we elevate one, we elevate all, and soon all of our common interests are met. Only then can we begin to transform the world. It is only then the better world we dream of becomes a reality.

It’s up to us to offer a helping hand to those struggling to climb the ladder. We stand on each other’s shoulders to elevate us to our ultimate accomplishments. This is a testament to a new tomorrow. We must clasp each other’s hands and take that first step together. It’s a step that every person, organization or institution can take together—if only we change our lens from competition to cooperation. From receiving to giving.

2. Surround yourself with people smarter than you.

Regardless of all your hard work, unique talent, good timing or good luck, success is largely a factor of the people you make a part of your journey.

When you first start, you pursue like-minded people in your social circle. But things change. You mature. Your circle widens as your interests shift from social to professional. Although you are initially drawn to people like yourself, now you start to gravitate to people who can offer alternative perspectives—the more unrelated and diverse the individuals, the more opportunity to fill in the gaps of your limited experience, which lowers your risk.

You must network, pay attention and seek out people who not only know more but are willing to challenge and push you. Because few things are as important as gaining new perspectives. It’s easy to get lost in your ideas. Alternate perspectives can eliminate the blind spots and bring you down from the clouds.

3. Find a mentor.

Mentorship is a service. How can you help this person? You need to care more about their goals than you care about your own. Actually, your number one goal is to help them with their goals.

Under promise and over perform. When you get an assignment, blow them away. Do more than expected. Make their life as easy as possible. Get them excited to work with you more.

Never stop seeking help from those who are where you want to be. At the same time, don’t neglect those who could use your help.

Never let a goal become more important than helping people. Help others generously, abundantly. Help others without expectation of a return favor. Serving others will turn you into a mentor yourself. And you will always find more joy in helping others succeed than in achieving your own success.

4. Be an influencer.

Influencers focus on helping one another without expecting anything in return. They give and balance with their own self-interests to make giving a win-win for all parties. Adam Grant, author of the best-selling book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Your Success, told me that “givers are not just philanthropists or volunteers… but people who enjoy helping others and often do it with no strings attached.” Grant explains that givers have the greatest opportunity to both succeed and fail in business because givers can often be taken advantage of, but the most successful givers thrive when they have their own self-interests aligned with giving.

5. Celebrate others’ success.

What does it mean to be just as happy for the success of others as for our own? It’s a matter of attitude. Adopting a praising and loving attitude will help you bask in the success of those you know and with whom you feel a personal connection. This might be difficult at times, but it’s a great way to help us lead more positive lives and get more in return.

By being courageous and selfless enough to embrace others’ success, we get the benefit of greater satisfaction. We feel fulfilled instead of bitter. For example, your best friend gets a job offer at a great company and you don’t know how to feel. You might feel happy but conflicted, especially if you feel less successful at the moment. But having the courage to celebrate your friend’s success as your own can lead to personal satisfaction when you think, OK, I now know someone who works at X company! Your inner circle of affiliations and acquaintances grows, and you can feel appropriately satisfied by that.

Not only does your inner circle of affiliations grow with others’ success, but you can also potentially find personal success. For example, say your best friend’s company is advertising for other positions. Now you have an internal referral that might benefit your own career should you desire working with the same company.

Beyond seizing an available opportunity where possible, our sense of embracing others’ achievements helps to expand our own willpower. American football player and coach Vince Lombardi said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, nor a lack of knowledge, but a lack of will.” Our own will can be awakened, in turn, when we see the success of others.

6. Spread positivity.

In director Christopher Nolan’s film Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio plays a man named Cobb who uses futuristic military technology to steal people’s corporate secrets by digging into their subconscious while they sleep. Then a secretive entrepreneur named Saito hires Cobb to do something a little different: plant an idea—inception—instead of stealing one.

For inception to be successful, the idea that Cobb plants has to be simple, emotional and positive. As he explains to his team, “The subconscious is motivated by emotion, right? Not reason. We need to find a way to translate this into an emotional concept…. Positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time.” For Cobb, positive realities are much easier to transfer to others than negative ones because they create lasting change.

Out of the fantasy world and into the world of neuroscience and positive psychology, the research supports Cobb’s claim. Over the past several years, researchers have been investigating how perceptions and mindsets can be transferred to others. And as it turns out, the three best strategies for transferring positive genius to others are not that different from the ones Cobb employed. (See what they are here.)

7. Find your motivation.

Successful people don’t become that way overnight. What most people see at a glance—happiness, wealth, a great career, purpose—is the result of hard work and hustle over time.

To be successful, you have to use each day as an opportunity to improve, to be better, to get a little bit closer to your goals. It might sound like a lot of work—and with a busy schedule, next to impossible. But the best part is, the more you accomplish, the more you’ll want to do, the higher you’ll want to reach. So as long as you have the hunger for success, you will always have the power within you to achieve it.

Use your ambition, drive and desire to make it happen.

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