Did you know that the self-improvement industry in the U.S. is a $10 billion market? That means there are a lot of people out there who are not achieving their goals. Of course, there are also dozens, if not hundreds of self-help gurus taking advantage of this situation and dishing out advice on how to be successful.
If only success were as simple as drinking a bottle of magic formula.
The reality is, whether you’re selling cars or performing oil changes, only you are in control of how successful you will be. Ultimately, it’s up to you to create your own formula for success. Expect it to take time and allow plenty of room for trial and error.
When I started selling cars many years ago, I learned about the three P’s: preparation, practice and persistence. In retrospect, this formula has served me very well throughout my career, so I thought I would share it with you.
Success requires mastery. Mastery requires knowledge. To gain knowledge requires research and preparation. When you get an Internet lead, do you jump right on the phone to call the person or do you take a few minutes to review their questions and research the answers?
If you have a job interview scheduled, do you research the company’s products and services before your appointment? Do you prepare for the interview by creating and rehearsing answers to commonly asked questions?
Preparation is particularly vital if you are starting out in your career or starting a new position. As you gain mastery of an action and knowledge of a subject, you won’t have to spend as much time in preparation mode.
Take the time to research and prepare for phone calls, meetings, presentations and projects that are assigned to you. Preparedness elevates your image as a professional and helps you to appear calm, collected and knowledgeable. No matter how smart you are, “winging it” will only get you so far in life and in your career.
Everyone knows that the more you repeat an action, the better you will become at that action. This applies to selling cars, swinging at golf balls or reconciling balance sheets.
Yet, repetition alone is not guaranteed to improve your skill levels. You have to be able to evaluate your practice, identify and learn from mistakes, adjust your approach and try new methods. If you have a 12 handicap, you’ll never learn how to be a scratch golfer without making adjustments to your swing.
I call this proactive practice. If you practice something every day and don’t see an improvement in your results, you need to change something.
If you’re not sure what to change, identify several people who have achieved success in your field. Emulate and practice their actions. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel when someone else has already figured out how to be successful at something. Practice, evaluate, identify, learn, adjust, try, repeat.
One of the biggest mistakes I see young (and some mature) professionals make is to rely on motivation to propel them into action. Successful people never wait until they feel motivated to do something. Do you think you will ever feel motivated to make 50 sales calls? I never did.
Motivation does not fuel persistence. Persistence fuels motivation. Get on the phone and start making the calls, even if you really don’t feel like it. Start that horrible project you’ve been putting off even though you’d rather visit your dentist to get a tooth pulled.
When one of those calls turns into a sale, guess what? You’ll suddenly feel motivated to keep dialing. When the horrible project is finished, you’ll feel a huge sense of relief and ready to take on another, even bigger project.
The road to success is littered with tasks that are boring and mundane, but absolutely necessary. To be successful, you must do the things you don’t THINK you have time to do. If you take the time to do what others won't do, you will be miles ahead of them in terms of success.
Remember, nothing pays like persistence.
The three P’s are the primary ingredients in my magic formula for success. They have served me well, but ultimately, only you can decide what works for you. What’s in your bottle of magic formula?