12 Modern Rules for Successful Life
‘As long as you live, keep learning how to live’-Epictetus
There is never a perfect way of living. Your goals and aspirations are different from mine and we have different outlooks on life and living too. It is these differences that make our lives so far from each other even though we live on the same planet and interact with each other to achieve our dreams. Yet we each create our rules and maintain some personal standards to simplify living and make life more meaningful and interesting.
Each person can create his own standard guide as long as those guides are congruent with the laws of nature and help the individual flourish. My own 12 rules are the guiding principles that I have distilled over three decades of life. Some are I picked from my upbringing and others I learned through learning and deep introspection.
My aim of distilling and documenting my rules is to share them with people and get them bounced around creating conversations that will bring clarity to the people involved.
If you are inspired by this piece to create or share your own guiding rules for living I will be so much inspired to read them too.
Save and invest fast
Take Bold Risk
Produce at an elite level
Focus on the process
Seek feedback constantly
Develop persuasive skills
1. Create More
Life is creative. It is never stagnant. The same with our body and everything we interact with. Everything in nature grows incessantly and interacts with each other including humans for expressions. It is only human that has the capacity to add more to this growth through his creativity and intelligence. To be truly human is to focus on being more expressive and create more things, ideas, space, and connections.
I try to create something every day. This creativity or productivity doesn’t need to be a thing. It could be selling an idea or a product or a service. If you make connections, you are creating something out of nothing. Creativity doesn’t have to be original. My belief is that I grow more when I create something and my actions are attesting to more growth.
Each time I create, I always have the potential and the evidence to create more things. Productivity has compound effects. Consider you selling a product to a client, and you secure the connection and possibly the trust. You have created a market that you can always call upon any time you have other products of a similar one. It could be something different entirely as long as it satisfies the want of your clients.
It is by creating something every day that we can secure tomorrow. What we bring into the world today may give us some rewards tomorrow or even years to come, we never know. As we create for the markets, we also have the potential to gauge the wants of the people through the mastery and the honest feedback of our fans. Now we will have the power to demand rewards from what we create if it’s good enough.
Life is expressive with being creative.
This tops my list because once I can have the space to create, other things we fall into the next rule.
2. Develop more courage
Courage is essential to productivity. We cannot create if we don’t believe in our ability to create something that others want. We need someone to witness our work, even if it’s just to get feedback. This is vulnerability. The ability to create things takes massive courage. Courage is needed to beat our inner doubts and start that business and put all on line or the courage to submit the reports that will give us the promotions and recognitions at our workplace.
No matter how much we learn to minimize risks, we still have to take the plunge. We can learn from the works of others but will have the best experience when we do things ourselves.
3. Learn New Things Fast
There are thousands of skills you need to grasp fast in the new economy. The intersections of disciplines and careers have created more new skills that are creating more values and new things for people. It seems everyone has to be a polymath now. I have taken a typing class until I was in my mid-thirty. I wanted to a business writer and I realized that my ability to follow my thought train as I write is quite dependent on my fast typing ability. With self-learning, I could type an average of 30 words per minute and I am still learning while I type this.
The best way to learn things fast is to find skills that will help you to reach your goals faster. By this, you will learn by doing instead of learning for knowledge alone. This doesn’t have anything to do with purpose or grand vision. The main ides Is to learn things that will help you function in your chosen field or career.
4. Save and Invest fast
There is power in ownership. No one has ever become great or successful by just being a consumer. Ownership does not necessarily mean starting a business. You can have a stake in the business as an investor or in stock options. This is not complex. The basic financial knowledge is to know what makes money from you and what multiplies it for you without your active participation. This is financial independence 101.
Saving is the first habit that will make you financially responsible but it shouldn’t be why you are working. Save fast and invest fast. This method will make you learn about the investment or business fast before you invest. The more you put your money in a business or in another person's company, the better you learn about how to compound your money.
Investing your money gives you time to compound your learning and more time for your money to grow.
If you fail, you will have more time to learn from your failure while you build up experiences to repeat the process in a better way and eventually have a breakthrough.
5. Take Bold Risk
Do not try to eliminate risk, it’s impossible. The best you can do is to see risk in everything you do. It is by taking a bold risk that you can capture what most people avoid because of fear of failure. Most of today's projects are not risky hundred as hundred years ago. The environments have been so well tamed that we can virtually remove such environmental risks.
The biggest risk is in our way of making decisions and how we feel about our bold moves. People rarely believe in you if you are just starting out in life if you have no chain of success behind you. This lack of belief may magnify your perception of risk. Go ahead anyway. No one ever knows the ends of anything worthwhile but as someone wrote, ‘ everything good must begin’.
Boldness is attractive.
There are vain people that have no concrete idea or have shitty ones and yet still garner enough fans and followers. The thing is not in the concreteness or power of the idea but the level of conviction in the idea owner. If you are ready to stick with your idea until it works, you will have the clarity as you go on.
6. Failure is the path. Success is the road sign
No one likes to fail. We detest failure so much that we will rather not do anything than to fail. We forget that doing nothing is a failure by default. The truth is everything we learn or do every day, there is always a learning curve, a kind of curve that rises from the bottom of the intersection between doubt and courage and climb slowly towards mastery.
We fail every day without knowing. Right from birth, we learned everything through trial and error method. Our first words trying to say, papa or mama, were learned through such a method. Our first step and other verbal and physical things we first attempted were riddled with failure too. We never gave up because we didn’t view failure as we were later taught.
We were not aware of these things because there was no word like a failure in our vocabularies or that of our parents or guardians.Our first encounter with the word failure and what it means must have been through school where the mass education categorized us based on our ability to memorize facts and figures, learn foreign languages, and probably some dead histories. Afterward, the word failure became so addictive because it has been the criterion we use to select our career and probably friends. Failure is not bad if we could have left it behind after schools, but we couldn’t because we have no other metric to gauge our self worth and contributions to the world. Everything we do must fall between failure and success. We seek approval, motivation, and validation from other people without the knowledge that these other people do not truly know what we want or what is good for them too. We rarely do anything without approval or motivation.
Failure that was natural to our learning process has been bad-mouthed and sold back to us as something we should avoid at all costs. The fear of failure is the basis of most of our actions every second of the day. The advertisers amplify the fear of germs so he can sell you antibacterial soap or gel. You fear being lonely so you buy the latest fashion and cologne to remain attractive. These actions are not inherently until they make you lose yourself, to become just a consumer in the industrial machine.
What is one thing you can begin to do now knowing that you will fail at it?
Failure is allowed. There is no way we can get to mastery if we do not wish to fail because by default everything that we fail to do is a failure already. The better thing to do is to seek failure by exposing your work or services to the world as fast as possible so that you can easily get past the doubt. This is not seeking approval to begin.
It is trying to get better at a craft or anything you want to do through feedbacks. This feedback becomes another standard you must work towards. In no time, this kind of approval will make you better at your work and even help you to identify the kind of audience that can become fans and pay for your efforts someday.
To do your great work and achieve your dreams, begin to view failure as a path you are presently treading and the occasional successes as rewards for reaching some certain designated miles or milestones. In this case, you will know that failure is inevitable because there is no other way.
The fear of failure comes because we make it an exception and make success the norms. If you twist this age-long concept, you will come to align with failures and let it lead you to success. Failure is the only path to mastery and greatness.
7. Produce at an elite level
Don’t underestimate the level of competition outside there. No one is coming to get you but the world is open enough that anyone now has the access to play. It is inevitable that someone somewhere is trying to create similar or better products than you are doing presently. If you join the masses you will find yourself competing at a low level. This is not your place even if you start there. You can always learn from the way up but your productivity can start at any level. You must think massively big that it will take require divine intervention for you to pull it through.
Be more than a consumer. This is what Steve jobs want you to think about when he said,’ Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
― Steve Jobs
You owe yourself and the world an obligation to show that life is evolving and your productivity will birth new things that will make the world better and bigger
8. Focus on the Process
We all need goals to have a sense of meaning and direction but it is the journey that is the real thing. We live our lives through the process of following our paths that lead to a solution to a problem. As a sailor, we must have the map buy we must drive the ship if we must get to the harbor. Most focus on the goals so much that they never even bother to put the ship on the sea. Sure if we have no goal, we can mighty get lost buy if we don’t make the journey, we will never get there.
There are steps that lead to wherever you want to go. All it takes is to believe in the process and do the work. This will require hard work and that is possibly a lot of people fantasize about their goals but never do anything about it. By doing the process, you will definitely arrive at a place.
9. Always Return to yourself fast
I am a fan of stoic philosophy because of their outlook on life. Not going down the spiral whenever I messed up is being influenced by these words of Marcus Aurelius,
“When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstance, revert at once to yourself, and don’t lose the rhythm more than you can help. You’ll have a better group of harmony if you keep on going back to it.”
Brooding is easier than creative thinking. When we deviate or something negative has come to rattle us, we tend to continue in that line of thought and actions until another unexpected happens that will remind us of our initial goals.
You started your workout program and you have a newborn baby. Because of the stress of the new addition to your family, you stopped going to the gym until one day when you look at the mirror and you realize you need to go back to the gym because you don’t like what you see.
It is difficult to achieve anything worthwhile if we cannot stay with a routine for a long time till it becomes a habit. The better way is to make the new way the default way of your existence such that you revert to yourself anytime you find yourself derailing
‘Let us forget about yesterday. Let's go and invent tomorrow’ Steve Jobs
10. Seek Feedback Constantly
One of the ways to not fool yourself is to cross-check your work with people that matter. The success of seeking soul may be carried away with the delusion of grandiosity. It is difficult to know if you are a jester or a genius if you don’t ask for feedback relentlessly.
The best way to do this is to first put your work or idea out there and listen to feedback from those that have either used your products or have some interest in your idea. These are not naysayers but those that have a genuine reason to seek the best of you or your products.
Complaints from the right corners are the food of champions. The idea is, seek feedback consistently and passionately, not to avoid errors, but to iterate your activities until you are near perfect.
It is easy to follow through your process once you have a good grasp of the cogency of your goals. You can go fast and as farther as you can if you are on the right path. Clarity comes from doing but things get clearer as you get real feedback from real people.
‘The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest to fool.”- Richard Feynman
11. Learn Continuously
The day I graduated from high school was the day I started practicing for my university entrance examination. I understood that success begets success and that the aura of success has a role to effect another successful outcome. This approach to exam preparation has followed me throughout my career and learning. The main idea is to know that what brought you here, will not likely take you to the next place. Life changes so fast that you never see the tiny effect of change until years later when it will be too late to meet up.
You must have a self-development goal to learn every day from reliable sources available to you. Books are the cheapest to learn from. Treat your study time as your work time. Reading is work because, without it, you cannot scale anything like humans. Turn all your observations into learning points no matter how delightful or painful.
Continuous learning will not happen without planning and strict adherence to your learning schedule. Don’t fool yourself that observations or doing is enough to make you smarter. We need the experiences of those that have figured out what we are seeking. Learning is easy if will remove all the barriers and distractions that always want to make us dumb. It also compounds such that the more you know, the more you want to know.
If the most successful people in the world are learners, you have no choice to join them.
12. Learn Persuasive Skills
There is no success without selling. You don’t need to have products or an idea before you become a seller. You don’t need to be an orator or the best dresser to be a salesman. Selling is what you do when you try to influence or persuade someone to your way of thinking. You do this every time you defend your opinion; when you persuade a mate to go on a date with you; when you convince your colleague to hang out with you etc. These are sales techniques irrespective of what you get in return for your efforts. It is the ability that is behind your economic prosperity. If there is no shame in you doing all the examples of persuasion I gave, you have no problems selling your ideas, products, and services.
Selling is not dependent on personalities as it depends on principles. Your success is not complete if you cannot win someone to your way of thinking.
These are my rules for achieving success in any field. Some of them I have imbibed and it has helped me created a fair amount of financial independence and career that is meaningful and engaging. These rules change has the world unfolds in the face of contradicting evidence. However, they are still a good start for anyone who knows that success and achievements are the engines that move humanity forward to a far better place.
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