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Thursday 20th Dec 2018

Why success is not an accident: 5 success secrets

Success is not a place but a way of thinking, feeling and subsequently acting as you embark on this exciting journey called life with the deliberate, conscious intent of turning a successful future into your reality. Over the past two decades, I have focused my time and energy on understanding what differentiates high achievers from the rest, and in doing so I’ve identified five secrets of their success.

Why success is not an accident

Success is not a place but a way of thinking, feeling and subsequently acting as you embark on this exciting journey called life with the deliberate, conscious intent of turning a successful future into your reality.

Over the past two decades, I have focused my time and energy on understanding what differentiates high achievers from the rest, and in doing so I’ve identified five secrets of their success.

Mastering these five secrets will accelerate your focus, your confidence and your self-belief, empowering and enabling you with the knowledge, skills and framework to start living the life you were meant to lead.

The five secrets of success

Why success is not an accident

Success Secret 1: Defining what success means to you

Success is such an emotive word, which we each define differently. Success for one person could be at opposite ends of the scale for the next. However, if you examine the words and actions of some of the most successful people today and throughout history, those individuals who have truly made a dent on the world and created a lasting legacy, you’ll find they each have something in common:

  •  A clear set of motivational drivers
  •  A reason for being
  •  A clear answer to the question ‘Why?’
  •  A purposeful intent that drives what they do and how they do it.

Have you ever considered what success means to you? Have you really reflected on this question or taken time out to answer it? And I mean properly answer it. Create some quiet time, take out your pad and pen or preferred gadget and actually commit it to black and white.

Why success is not an accident


  •  What does success mean to you personally?
  •  What does success mean to you professionally?
  •  Are your two definitions aligned, or are they in tension?

Think about these things and you begin to raise your conscious awareness of your own motivational drivers, which in turn will help unlock your ‘Why?’ and ultimately your definition of success. When you are really clear about what success means to you, both personally and professionally, you can design your life, fully aware of the tensions and trade-offs you’re making.

Different stages of your life are like different chapters in which your definition of success may change, as will the importance you place on the different elements.

Success Secret 2: Creating your success formula

Defining what success means to you is only the first piece of the jigsaw. Now comes the real work – turning your definition of success into reality. And to do that you need to create success formulas.

The great news is that we all have areas of our lives where we already apply success formulas. Perhaps you don’t describe or think about them as formulas; you may call them plans, routines, systems, rituals, regimens or just ‘the way you do it’. But if you’re repeating something regularly in the same way because you know it gets you the result you want, that’s a success formula.

Sport is a great source of examples of success formulas in action. This is because the margins of error and the difference between winning and losing can be tenths of a second, one pass, or a single point. This is about elite performance, the best of the best in action.

Watch a Formula One racing team perform a pit stop in the middle of a Grand Prix. Some might call them superstitious rituals but they would say it is part of their success formula.

Why success is not an accident

To find success formulas in action in business, you need to look no further than franchising. Franchises have a far higher success rate than comparable non-franchised start-up businesses. The franchisor has a proven system that works and, providing you follow that system, you will succeed. According to Bloomberg, 80 per cent of new businesses fail within five years and 80 per cent of new franchise businesses succeed in the same period.


McDonald’s is probably the first franchise model that pops into your mind and it’s no wonder. McDonald’s has succeeded in driving the franchise concept to such a powerful level that it now has more than 37,000 restaurants in over 100 countries, with more than 69 million people eating at one of its franchises every single day. When you go into a McDonald’s, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, they all serve the same core list of food items (with some regional differences added to the offering) and present them in the same way.

In business, think about monthly board meetings, performance metrics, key performance indicators and dashboards, project plans, monthly profit and loss statements. These are all success formulas for running a business effectively.

To help you in the creation and application of your own success formulas firstly define ‘success’ or the goal that you want to achieve. Create a strategy, a success formula, a game plan for how you’re going to turn your defined success or goal into reality, then take massive action, aligned to your strategy and finally review it on a regular basis. This is the step that ultimately plagues most people, and the principal reason why a success formula will fail.

Success Secret 3: Success modelling to fast-track your timeline

You don’t need to be an expert in everything. You can fast- track your success by learning from the experts.

In my business growth book Built to Grow I talk about two choices you have when growing your business. The same principle applies equally to your personal growth, and I want to share it with you here.

Why success is not an accident

When it comes to doing anything new, you have two choices: the first is to put in the hard yards, learning through trial and error as you reinvent the wheel; the second is to learn from those who have already navigated a pathway to success.

We all know successful people who have achieved great things, but you may be surprised to discover how willing they often are to share their success, if only they were asked to do so. Bill Gates once said that he is amazed by how many people ask him for a million dollars and dismayed by how few people ask him for advice on how to make a million of their own.

Success Secret 4: Developing your success disciplines

Warren Buffett, considered one of the most successful investors in the world, was speaking with Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, at Harvard Business School. They were addressing students of the final graduating year, who were just about to start their careers. During the Q&A session at the end, a student asked: ‘Mr Buffett, if there was one final thought you could share with us as we head into the world of work and start our careers, what would it be?’ This was a great question and Buffett’s response was, ‘Get your habits right while you’re young, because once embedded they will serve you in creating a compelling future.’

This was an insightful response, particularly the words ‘because once embedded’. This is the difference that makes the difference for high achievers: consistency of action – consistency over time that in turn leads to habit.

You can invest quality time defining what success means to you personally and professionally. You can create your success formula and a personalised success modelling strategy and on paper you are set up for success, only to fall down on disciplined execution.

Why success is not an accident

I’ve seen so many people achieve some quick wins, but delivering accelerated, sustained and repeatable results requires a whole new set of skills and disciplines. It requires focus, it requires rigour, and it requires boundless levels of energy, commitment and resilience.

Success Secret 5: Honing your success habits

There is a saying, ‘There are no crowds lining the extra mile’. Masters of their craft, whatever their specialist field of endeavour, are part of a select group of people who really live by this saying.


Because the extra mile is where they spend most of their time. They don’t subscribe to the tribe of life, the herd mentality. For them, a life of mediocrity is not an option. Instead, they invest their time every day in being the best of the best, raising their personal standards and chasing perfection. Even though perfection isn’t truly attainable, they know that by going the extra mile they may just catch excellence on the journey.

Now’s the time to define what success means to you…here’s how

This week’s blog was an extract from my new book RISE: Start living the life you were meant to lead, available to order today.

RISE: Start living the life you were meant to lead

PLUS, download the full and complete chapter ‘why success is not an accident’ for free.

Rise - Blog free chapter offer

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