Some years ago, I was invited to a meeting at the Google office in Nigeria. The meeting was for industry leaders in the education sector in the country. In the meeting room, I had a seat alongside six big names in the industry. Everyone in the room perceived I was a representative of at least a medium-scale company. But the reality at that time was that I was just a one-man business working from home. But who cares; maybe I earned the right to be there. Anyway, the point, which is the first unpopular advice for ordinary people who want to be successful, is that value is not only what you have but what other people think you have. In other words, your value is largely based on other people’s perceptions than on reality. For the rest of this video, I’ll share with you 4 unpopular pieces of advice for ordinary people who want to be successful. Before we get to it, be sure to subscribe to After School Africa for more insightful videos like this.
1. Value is not only who you are but who others think you are
In his book, Story, the legendary screenwriter Robert McKee wrote, “What happens is fact, not truth. Truth is what we think about what happens.” Facts are reality. Truth is perception. From my previous story, the reality was that one-man home business shouldn’t be in the same room with those larger organizations. But the truth is that based on what I had built, the host perceived I was qualified to be in that room.
People don’t have the time to analyze your intentions, who you are, or where you are coming from. We judge by what we see right in front of us. For instance, in reality, your favorite celebrity is just an ordinary person. But you’d create a perfect image of them by what you see on TV and social media. Economies and markets are forged on perception. It only takes events like the COVID-19 pandemic to bring us back to reality.
What can you do with this knowledge? Well, this is it; you can control how people perceive you. The difference between the people at the helm of affairs across industries and the ordinary people is that they carefully forge the perception people have of them. As a result, their value is amplified. If you continue to portray yourself as an ordinary person with ordinary expectations, people will perceive you that way. No one can tell what’s going on inside your head. People will only judge you based on what you let out. This doesn’t mean you should live a fake life. Instead, it’s about building your self-image and self-perception so that others will, in turn, accept your increased value.
2. It’s Ok to ‘Steal’ Ideas, if you do it right
All your life you have been told to be unique, original and do everything your way. This advice has its place, but most success stories are not based on original ideas. In the book, ‘Steal Like an Artist’, the author emphasizes that the best artists are not entirely original with their work; they are simply good at identifying and assembling great works; and making them their own. Much like the saying, “If you steal from one author, it is plagiarism; if you steal from many, it is research”.
Before Facebook, there was MySpace. Before Instagram, there was Pinterest. Before Google, there was Yahoo and Alta Vista. These successful businesses didn’t come up with an entirely new concept. They simply took an existing idea, and built a better product. Stop trying to come up with a novel idea; or to re-invent the wheel. You don’t need to be absolutely original to create something amazing that people will accept. You can be successful from taking an existing idea and mixing it with your unique innovation and personality.
3. Don’t rely on goals, rely on systems
Conventional wisdom is that the best way to achieve what we want in life is to set specific, actionable goals. So we set goals for the year; make New Year resolutions. But by February over 75 percent of people have defaulted on their goals. By July may be less than one percent will still be working on their goals. It’s good to set goals; but here is the thing, winners and losers have goals. Every Olympian wants to win a gold medal. Every candidate wants to get the job. If successful and unsuccessful people have goals, then the goal cannot be what differentiates the winners from the losers.
Imagine you have a messy room and you set a goal to clean it over the weekend. You tidy up your room – so you have a clean room for now. If you maintain the same habits that led to the messy room in the first place, soon your room will get messy again and you’ll keep setting goals to clean up the mess. You’re caught chasing the same outcome because you never changed the system that created it. It is only when you implement a system of continuous small improvements that you’ll achieve a different outcome.
Think of your goals like the egg and the system like the goose that lays the egg. Instead of setting a random goal to make $10,000 this year, decide to develop habits that can prepare you to readily make $10,000 from the next 2 years onward. It could be forming the habit to go to bed early and wake up by 5 am, so that you can create that video, write that article or read that book before 7am.
Achieving a goal only changes your life for the moment. Many athletes work hard for months, but as soon as they cross the finish line, they stop training. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it? This is why many people find themselves reverting to their old habits after or before accomplishing a goal. Set goals but focus on developing the routine habits that makes achieving your goals natural.
4. Don’t follow hot trend
Few years ago, social media influencers became a thriving profession. People were cashing out big from brands for building a huge following on social media. As with most things that are proven to work, many people jumped on the hot trend of social media influencing. For most people, this was just an opportunity to make quick money. People were not looking at building a sustainable brand; they just wanted to get as much followers as possible. Well, today, the market value of social media influencing is fading out, with only few strategic people actually making money.
You have to understand that trends come and go. Don’t build your career around a trend. Take advantage of a hot trend if you can to promote what you do. But don’t make it the foundation of what you do. If you found this video helpful, we’ll appreciate if you’ll like and share it with someone. If you are yet to subscribe to After School Africa channel, now is a good time to click the subscribe button. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS.