(Last Updated On: January 20, 2021)

image of smiling African American woman who knows how to be successful


How to be successful at anything?


You could ask my Grandmother but she’s no longer with us.


But you’re still in luck. I asked her that question a long time ago when I was a teenager and I never forgot her answer.


So when a student from a group I was speaking to asked me: “Ms Barrow, how can I be successful at anything I want to do?” I knew the answer.


You see, early in my life, I’d ask my grandmother, “Gran, do you think I would be successful as a Movie Star?”


Unlike everybody else who had laughed at my question, my grandmother pulled me aside and very sternly, said to me:

Listen to me girl...no shortcuts about this, no negotiating. Before you can be successful at any of them “big fashioned” jobs you want, you have to be successful at being a good person! You hear me?


Not only did I hear her, but by virtue of questioning her during my teenage years, I was able to determine what she really meant.


She wanted all of us to focus on being good and decent people as we mature, instead of being just a good "job title."


So I followed her advice and over the years, I developed 7 "success principles" which keep me grounded as a person and at the same time, liberate me to go after my goals.  


Believe me, they are my silent partners in everything I do. They are the standards I hold myself to and the mirror that reflects who I am, right back at me. They are also the foundation of my self development.


That’s why I know they can work for you whether you’re an entrepreneur, a small business owner or even a movie star. 


So here they are...


1.  Determine your values set

I can’t say this enough...determine your values set.


I know you get that values represent standards of behavior which define how you live and work. You also get that they are what you stand for and they inform what you will and will not do.


But what you don’t get, is that if you don't select them, they select you.  In other words, values exist in your life and business whether you are conscious of them or not.


The problem is, that when your values choose you instead of the other way around, they just might not be right for you. When this is the case, your chances of being a successful person are vastly reduced.


So come on, get clear on what you stand for. Having a code of honor will help with this. 


Remember, having a set of values which inform and guide your behaviour is a big step towards your happiness and success.


2.  Mind your business

Let me be clear. I don't mean "mind your business!" in response to a nosy person.


What I mean is, whatever the circumstances, focus on your own (personal) business.


As a matter of fact, my grandmother and all the other wise women in the village always urged us: “drunk or sober, mind yuh business!” 


At first, I didn't understand what these “old women” were always going on about. I just knew it had nothing to do with the drinking habits of their partners.


But sadly, as I grow older, I became painfully aware of what they meant and all the forms "not minding your business" could take.


Let me show you an example.


Even among my colleagues and friends, I watch seemingly sensible women become fully consumed with what a particular “friend” is doing and how wrong they are doing it.


They collect the “evidence”, they internalize it and then they go the extra mile and present it to their friend!  Even as I'm gasping is disbelief, they are very offended and hurt when the friend shows no interest in their advice.


Listen to me! If you are guilty of behavior like this, stop right now! You cannot be successful when you are all up in your friends’ business like pork in souse.


 Instead, concentrate on your own self-development. Have your own goals, focus on them and do what you have to do to bring them to reality. That's how to be successful!


3.  Don’t negotiate with yourself

 “Negotiating with yourself” is a term I developed to describe when you have to do something and instead of just doing it, you get in your own way. 


It works something like this.


You know that you have something to do. You know it must be done by a certain time. And you know it’s important. Do you get on with it as soon as possible? Noooo. You begin negotiating with yourself.


“O.K, I will start this tomorrow – first thing in the morning.” You tell yourself with all the best intentions.


But first thing in the morning, the story changes.


Now you tell yourself you don’t feel up to it, you will start later. When later comes, you remember you had to drop off a book for your sister. You keep this behaviour up the whole day, instead of just doing what must be done.


Have you ever done this negotiating thing with yourself? Shame to admit it? I know I have...


How to be successful? This is certainly not the best way.


Negotiating with yourself in this way leads you to a bad place. You get mad at yourself. You feel out of control and think you’re a total failure.


At the risk of being considered “plastic”, just stop the negotiating and do what must be done, when it must be done.


This is a great way to build your personal success brand. This is how you move from good to outstanding.


4.  Know the best time to take action

image of young black man showing how to be successful by taking action

Are you plagued by the question:

When is the best time to do something about something?


You know what I mean...when you have an idea you want to try or something you want to change but you’re not sure about the outcome. So you hesitate.


Well, if you’re going to be successful, you had better learn to look uncertainty full in the eye and take action on your idea or goal!


To me the fastest way to acquire a large piece of real estate on Failure Street is to be paralysed by fear or doubt into inaction.


I know your perfectionist attitude and your need for control warns you that taking action in the face of uncertainty is madness.


But in the words of  Michael Port,  Author of Book Yourself Solid:

Often the very people who are perfectionists, control freaks we might also call them, and who therefore think that the projects they complete will be perfect, can’t actually complete projects, much less get started, in many cases.


 So learn to take action. Even a small, baby step. Even as you’re shaking and scared of the challenge. When you do, you will go forward faster and you will reach further. I promise.


5.  Know the rules...that's how to be successful!

I never cease to be annoyed, amazed and amused by the fact that people will choose to engage in something, and try to make it work without so much as thinking about the rules.


Look! There are rules for living, for parenting for using the bathroom, for relationships, for doing business. There are rule for nearly everything.


When you know the rules, your path through life is easier and your rise to leadership is faster.


You can go through life communicating with confidence and being assertive in every situation. 


Above all, you will find that applying the rules you know is more likely to get you what you want, rather than breaking the ones you don’t know.


6.  Get in touch with your spirit

This is not some sort of “woo woo” stuff.


And notice I did not say join a religion or go to a church – although this could be a part of the process of finding your spirit.


 When you understand and accept that there is a force greater than yourself, which you can access and use, the entire world looks completely different.


The drama falls away, there is no problem that does not have a solution and hope truly, truly springs eternal in your breast.


Yeah, getting in touch with your spirit guarantees success.


7.  How to be successful? Laugh

 You heard me correctly, LAUGH.  


I always want to laugh out loud at people who take themselves and life in general so seriously, even smiling is a chore.  


I hope you’re not one of these people because you will be failing to leverage the success benefits of laughter.


Laughter relaxes you, increases your comfort level in certain situations and strengthens your relationships.


And let’s not forget about the tremendous role it plays in improving your health, a benefit that is important for your success.


I laugh at life. When the document that I worked on for two whole days disappear down a computer dark hole, I laugh...even though I feel like crying.


I laugh out really loud when people recite to me all the things I must change about me, if I want to be a “top dog” in my niche.


Above all, I laugh at me and remind myself that no one died and made me God.


You should learn to laugh at yourself too.


Your next "successful" steps?

So here we are... I've exposed my soul and shared my top 7 principles on which I built my personal success.


Of course my success isn’t complete. I’m still growing and learning and unavoidably, I keep moving my own goal posts and constantly redefining my success.


And now it's your turn to get moving on your success. You ask me how?


Well, take any one of the principles I shared with you and start working on them. Apply them to your business and then add any of these other solutions.


If you have your own principles, great. Compare them with mine and take the best of the two and come up with an even  stronger set.


And as you do, just remember that the measurement of success is individual to the individual. But the world seems to agree that it happens when you take steps to make it happen.


Take your first step now...



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