Alright Internet... This is a wake-up call. This article was written out of a frustration for the minds of this generation.
Somehow, over the past 25 years the internet has removed people's ability to discern authentic success from pathetic counterfeits. As a result, our aspirations have fallen from respectable to underwhelming.
But before I jump into my solution, let's talk about why this matters.
Our understanding of success determines why, how, and what leaders we follow. It determines the direction of our actions. It decides the life that we'll end up creating. It calls for a change in behaviors that will ultimately adjust our current state of existence.
Therefore, when a generation ignorantly celebrates an immature, unaccredited, and shallow version of success we have a problem. So, in the article, I will attempt to shatter the common misconceptions of a leader and restore a healthy baseline for individual success.
As for me, a healthy pursuit of success is my life's mission. After founding and selling multiple million dollar companies, writing a best selling book, speaking for corporations like Facebook, Adobe, and Chick-fil-a, and being featured in almost every major business magazine and news network... I feel qualified to observe such a topic.
And while my accomplishments might offer you a reason to follow my business advice, this information alone shouldn't qualify me as someone worth following. For all you know, I could be a manipulative jerk. Maybe my family fell apart because of an addiction to achievement. Or... what if I cheated my way to the top?
You see, success and the reasons for following a leader are multi-faceted. We must look deeper into the leaders we follow. We must raise the bar for who we give permission to speak into our lives. Below, I have attempted to get you started. To open your eyes to the lies and find a more holistic, results-oriented, and dependable version of leadership.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I'm not stating that my understanding is the ultimate definition of success. However, I am stating that my description of success is a stronger foundation than what currently remains the status quo.
1. Most Millionaires Are Not Successful.
At what point did we define a person worthy of following because of their ability to purchase mansions and Lamborghinis? At what point did we believe the brand of clothes someone wears dictates their value? Because my experience with money tells me this:
The way a person spends their money tells me a lot about their heart.
Have we become so shallow that the mere ability to purchase an expensive product has become the reason we decide to follow the life of another? Is this what you want? To be able to buy a nice car? If the ability to buy nice things impresses you, then you might have larger issues on your hands.
Let's get real people, money is a great thing. It's an effective tool to generate the opportunities and lifestyle you desire.
But no amount of money determines your degree of success.
On the contrary, many multi-millionaires are the most unsuccessful people on this planet. While they will surely be the wealthiest people in the graveyard, many come home to an empty house filled with expensive distractions attempting to fill the voids of their hearts.
Wealth is a sign of a great mind. It's proof of their ability to influence others at a higher rate than most. But money without a responsible heart can become dangerous. Money for the purpose of buying extravagant items with little meaning can become empty. And most importantly, money with a history of failed relationships, lawsuits, and divorces is a sign of a person who has a financial ability that outweighs their emotional maturity.
The lesson is this: Don't follow millionaires because of what they can buy. There is nothing intrinsically impressive with a person who needs to buy products to make themselves happy.
2. If You Can't Lead A Family, You Can't Lead Me.
A mentor once told me, "The greatest tragedy is a person too busy making a living, they forgot to make a life." The internet is riddled with so-called "life coaches" or "leaders" who are so focused on building their brand, business, or career they have forgotten the most important part of life. Family.
They find themselves on the other side of 40 wealthy, known, and alone.
This isn't a problem if that was their intention. Meaning... they never wanted a family or desired to remain single. However, it is a problem if their dream was to find a spouse, become a parent, and have the family experience.
In a 2010 survey of people on their death bed, the #1 regret was not spending more time with family. #2 (for women) was not having more children. But the lack of relational commitment and/or the desire to avoid children can signal something much deeper. We were made for another. Our souls scream for commitment. And a spirit of independence driven by an addiction to achievement is almost always linked to a history of hurt.
But for those who can heal. Who control their selfishness in a pursuit of another tells me something as well. Contrary to popular belief, the highway to wisdom and maturity is not solely through education, but through the commitment to another in marriage and the willingness to lead, love, and raise a child. Because these people know one thing:
Who you go home to will always beat what you come home to.
The lesson is this: A successful marriage and well raised children are a more accurate reflection of a leader than almost anything else. But someone who lacks these areas should come with an appropriate level of skepticism.
3. Credibility Commands Results
Dave Ramsey once said, "Broke people giving financial advice is like a shop teacher with missing fingers. Be careful with what you believe."
Every day I see a new "social media guru" touting their ability to guide people toward making a buck. But then I click... A social media expert with no social media following. Sounds fishy.
People are looking for a shortcut to credibility; they want the respect without earning it.
Results require both time and consistency. One hit wonders and early successes lack the depths to be called proven. Consistent positive results over long periods of time, will always outpace a phony attempt of "fake it until you make it."
The lesson is this: Verify leaders by what they've done, not by why what they say they'll do. Before you click the follow button, spend 5 minutes reviewing not only their credentials, but their history.
4. They Don't Work For Money
I’ve met too many people who create businesses to make money. And then I’ve met people who create businesses to fuel their passion.
But there is a major difference here. One makes things because they want to make money; the more things they make, the more money they make. What they make doesn’t matter that much to them – they’ll make anything as long as it pays.
The other wants to make money because it allows them to make more things. I think Walt Disney might have said it best,
"We don't make movies to make money. We make money to make more movies."
The greatest leaders of our time have never been in the business of making money. A leader worth following is deeper than the dollar. You can see it in their eyes and feel in their presence.
Money is the furthest thing on their mind. Problems are their addiction. And their ability to bring solutions to the world is the drive in their soul.
The lesson is this: There is a purity associated with a leader who works from passion. The motives of a man chasing a solution offer more confidence than those who chase a payout.
In closing, what's most impressive about those who are truly successful, is their commitment to balance without compromise. Because these people know one thing: If one area falls apart, their integrity is put at risk. Balancing a business while you're single is easy. Buying nice things on credit is painless. And faking credibility through hype is common.
But those who can build a business while maintaining a thriving family, is impressive. Those who have the discipline to only buy what they can afford, are wise. And those who earn their results through years of hard work, are worthy.
Are You Looking To Fuel Your Passion?
Finding success begins with taking a step. A dream without action is merely a wish. If you're looking to lead with results and to create a business that fuels your passions, consider enrolling in our 12 month, online entrepreneur and leadership coaching program.
What's your thought on success? Do you know anyone with these traits? Let me know in the comments below.