1. Do things you don’t like doing
You know that scene in “Office Space” where he says he’s going to stop doing things he doesn’t like doing, like working and paying bills? That’s an awesome movie, but I’ve found in real life you need to make yourself do things you don’t want to do.
I almost never actually want to go to the gym, but I make myself. I love having my own business but do I really like maintaining all the spreadsheets that are involved or responding to client emails at all hours? No, I don’t like that. But I do it because nobody promised the path to success would be an easy one. In fact, if it was, everyone would be successful.
2. Don’t listen to the negative voice in your head
You know that voice in your head that told you that you can’t do it? It lied. It’s normal to be afraid, to be discouraged, or to doubt yourself. I’ll be honest with you. When I was a kid a lot of adults said I’d never amount to anything, and I had that burned into the back of my mind for a long time. One of the reasons I’ve worked so hard is to prove that voice wrong.
Maybe you weren’t valedictorian of your high school either. Maybe you weren’t the teacher’s pet. Well, guess what? Research has found those kids don’t end up doing so great anyway.
3. Change the things you cannot accept
You know that old song, “Whatever will be will be …”? The song’s wrong. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to accept mediocrity or to try to put you in a box of containment. Thomas Edison failed repeatedly before inventing the light bulb. But he never considered any of these failed inventions, “failures.” Edison simply said he had “discovered something that does not work.”
Before creating Mickey Mouse and Disneyland, Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor who said he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
4. Receive constructive criticism
I think one important aspect of success is the ability to receive constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is different than someone putting you down. It’s something to help you improve. Everybody wants to have compliments but would you want to go to the gym and have a trainer that doesn’t challenge you?
5. Unlearn what they taught you in school
I’ve found one of the keys to being successful is learning to unlearn a lot of the things they taught in school. This is for the same reason that valedictorians don’t typically go on to greatness – success is related to an ability to innovate and find solutions, and that can’t happen if you’re not able to question the dominant beliefs of our society.
Eric Eisenhammer is a political strategist and technology entrepreneur in northern California.