How to Become More Successful

July 3rd, 2009 by Steve Pavlina

How do you feel about people who are very successful? What’s your attitude toward the movers and shakers in your field?

Do you admire and respect them? Do you speak highly of them?

Or are you suspicious of them? Do you criticize or attack them?

What’s the true role of these people in your life? What do they represent?

Subjectively speaking, your relationship with the most successful people in your reality represents your relationship to success itself. Those people represent your potential and how you feel about it.

I use the term “relationship” to mean your general attitude toward people who are ultra-successful. It doesn’t matter if you know them personally because your relationships are all in your mind anyway.

If you don’t know any very successful people personally, but you still hold strong opinions about some of them, that is very telling as well. It indicates that you don’t have a close personal relationship with your own success potential.

On the other hand, if you count highly successful people among your closest and dearest friends and family, that’s equally telling. It suggests that you have a close personal connection to your own success potential.

Birds of a feather

Objectively speaking, successful people flock together. You really don’t see highly successful people all by themselves, surrounded by those who have a negative attitude towards success. The movers and shakers in any field tend to be friends and often hang out together.

Similarly, people who have a negative attitude toward success flock together as well.

If you want to get a better picture of your own relationship to success, look to the people you hang out with. Do you befriend a lot of successful people? Or do you hang out with those who resent them or who are envious of them? This will give you a good picture of your relationship to success itself.

It’s all too easy to say that you have a successful attitude, but if you keep company with those who shun success, you’re incongruent.

Successful and unsuccessful people tend to repel each other, at least in terms of forming close friendships. One reason is that unsuccessful people are constantly complaining. They’re veritable fountains of grievances. They do it dozens of times per day, usually without being aware of it. If you ask them what they think of any random celebrity, it’s a virtual guarantee they’ll focus mainly on what they don’t like about that person.

Successful people, on the other hand, are constantly talking about their dreams, goals, and projects. This doesn’t mean they’re blindly optimistic about everything. They simply have a strong tendency to focus on what they want. They inspire and motivate themselves, and they inspire and motivate each other.

When you put the two different types of people together, you have the unsuccessful people talking about their grievances, which annoys and disturbs the highly successful people if overdone. Initially a successful person may try to help out by offering advice or mentoring. But when s/he observes that the unsuccessful person applies none of it and comes up with excuses to maintain the status quo, it’s an immediate turnoff. The successful person will usually bow out and go where his/her talents and skills are appreciated.

Similarly, you have the successful people constantly yabbering on about their goals and dreams. This annoys the unsuccessful people to no end. They can’t stand it. They’ll often try to “help” the successful people by cautioning them about negative outcomes. But successful people aren’t phased and continue to press on anyway. The unsuccessful person can’t keep up and ducks out.

Attitude

Being successful or unsuccessful isn’t about how much money or status you’ve achieved. It’s an internal quality. It’s your attitude.

I’ve met people who have a lot of money, but their attitude toward successful people is so negative, they repel such people everywhere they go. I’ve also met people who are dead broke, but they easily attract highly successful mentors to help them out, and it isn’t long before their external world begins to reflect their inner truth.

When you harbor negative feelings toward successful people, you push success away. When you harbor positive feelings toward them, your own success draws nearer.

I’ve seen a very basic form of this advice in many books on wealth and success. You’ve probably encountered it as well. It goes something like, “If you hate wealthy and successful people, you’ll never be one of them because you won’t allow yourself to become something you hate.”

There’s some truth to that, but I think it’s easier to see why it works when you view it through the lens of subjective reality. Since your relationships are all in your mind, your relationship towards any particular class of people is a reflection of your relationship with whatever those people represent to you.

This means that you can understand your relationship to success by exploring your relationships with the most successful people in your reality.

Are the most successful people in your life close to you? Do you count them among your dearest friends? Or are they way off in the distance somewhere?

Do you love successful people? Do you speak highly of them? Do you feel loved and appreciated by them? Or do you shun them? Do they shun you? Do you move in totally different circles?

Who do you think is responsible for that?

A simple exercise

Select a person you regard as very successful. It doesn’t matter if you’ve actually met the person.

Take a few minutes to write down your thoughts about this person, including what you like and don’t like. Then read back what you wrote as if you’ve been writing about your own relationship to success.

I think you’ll find this exercise very insightful.

What if you’ve never even met the other person? How can you possibly know what they’re like? Where is your attitude really coming from? Your own beliefs about success are filtering it.

Seeing it from the other side

Have you ever been told that someone you’ve never met holds a certain attitude toward you. “Joe absolutely adores you; he talks about you all the time.” “Mary thinks you’re a loser; she talks about you behind your back.”

Does it strike you as odd that people could form such strong opinions about you without actually meeting you?

I get this all the time as a blogger. Lots of people hold strong opinions about me, but the ones with the strongest opinions have never even met me. To back up their opinions, they select a few clips to support their opinion from the nearly 2 million words I’ve written. Of course they’re really selecting to match their beliefs about whatever I represent to them, perhaps their own relationship to personal growth since that’s what I write about.

I’ve noticed that people who hold a low opinion of personal development will invariably hold similar thoughts toward me. I’m lame or stupid because of what I represent to them. Those who love personal development and have a strong relationship with their own growth tend to feel good about me. I’m helpful or brilliant because of what I represent.

I’m just using this as a general example. To a lot of people I represent growth and change because that’s what I write about, so this is the role people assign me in their reality. But of course it could be something entirely different. It’s your reality, so you assign the roles.

What do I represent in your reality? Can you see how your attitude toward me is a reflection of your attitude toward whatever I represent? Is it possible you’re assigning qualities to me that may be inaccurate and that your opinion might shift if we had a face-to-face conversation?

How to become more successful

If you wish to become more successful, then work on improving your relationship with the most successful people in your life.

Forgive them. Befriend them. Love them. Do whatever it takes.

Forgive, love, and befriend the part of yourself that wants to have a positive connection to success.

This doesn’t mean hanging out with people whose values and morals disgust you. Just loosen your grip on some of your criticisms. Realize that successful people are human.

Notice what blocks come up. What is it about highly successful people that really bugs you?

For example, if you get caught up in thinking about their character and personality flaws, what does that say about you? Does it mean that in order for you to have a close relationship with success, you must be perfect? Is that realistic? Can you see that you’re always going to repel success with that attitude because you’ll never be perfect?

I’ve seen this happen with some of my long-term readers. I write hundreds of articles they love, but as soon as I write about that one hot-button issue where we have a difference of opinion, they send me a nasty email and tell me I’ve lost them forever, despite numerous breakthroughs they previously thanked me profusely for helping them achieve. This often happens when they’re getting close to success in their own lives, but they aren’t ready for it.

Do you expect every teacher or mentor to be perfect? Do you expect to see eye-to-eye in every situation? Will you run away forever if someone challenges you in a way you don’t like?

Is this how you’d like to see other people deal with your success? Do you want them to put you on a pedestal, to analyze your every action, to expect perfection from you at all times?

Or would you prefer to be treated like a human being, accepted and loved as you are? Is this how you relate to the successful people in your life?

What if you believe that successful people are greedy? Do you ever complain that they should donate more to charity? What does that say about you? Are you more greedy than you realize but secretly resentful of your own selfishness? Do you feel you should be donating more than you are?

What do you think about enjoying the rewards of success? Can you feel good when some celebrity rewards themselves? Do you feel guilty about rewarding yourself with a treat now and then? Or do you feel good about it, knowing that rewarding yourself helps motivate you to create even more value for others?

Becoming congruent with success

We all have blocks that keep us out of harmony with our great potential. The people in our lives are always reflecting that inner attitude back to us.

To fix the inner attitude problem, you must at some point admit that you were wrong and forgive yourself for it.

“I was wrong about so-and-so. Perhaps he isn’t such a bad guy after all. Maybe he’s just human. I will do my best to love and accept him as he is.”

You can extend what I’ve said about success to any quality or character trait. Your feelings toward sexy people reflects your relationship with your own sexiness. Your feelings toward healthy people reflects your relationship with health. Your feelings toward rich people reflects your relationship with wealth. Your feelings toward creative people reflects your relationship with your own creativity. Your feelings toward highly productive people reflects your relationship with productivity. Your feelings toward highly spiritual people reflects your relationship with spirituality.

How do you feel about psychics? Are you skeptical? Do you feel they’re all frauds and charlatans? Do you harbor serious doubts about their so-called gifts? If so, does it surprise you that your own psychic senses are virtually nonexistent? Do you wonder why your intuition is so cloudy that you can never trust it?

On the other hand, do you feel that psychics are loving people with a special gift to share? Do you accept their guidance with gratitude? Is it any wonder that you’re also able to gain much value from your own intuitive and psychic senses? Do other people comment on how gifted you are?

If you hate or distrust certain people, you’re pushing away that part of yourself. If you love and accept certain people, you’re in harmony with that part of yourself.

You can massively accelerate your personal growth by tweaking these relationships consciously and deliberately. It’s all in your mind anyway.

As within, so without

When you make the inner adjustment, your external world will shift to reflect the inner change.

Recently I did some inner work on my attitude towards certain people. My block had to do with people who spend money on nonessentials, sometimes as a way of rewarding themselves. Spending money on nonessential items would usually make me feel uncomfortable, even if I could easily afford it.

Erin and I had a 13-year old couch in our home that was ripped in a couple places and pretty ratty looking. One of the built-in recliners was broken. She’d been talking about getting a new couch for at least a couple years, probably longer, but I always blocked her. “This couch is fine. We don’t need to spend money on a new one.” We had plenty of money though, and a new couch wouldn’t make a serious dent in our finances. She tried to get us to go couch shopping a few times, but I rejected her choices. There was always something wrong with them.

After doing some inner work on my attitude toward spending money and enjoying the rewards of success, I was able to get past this block. We went couch shopping and were helped by an exceedingly gregarious and non-pushy salesman. We shopped with an attitude of positive expectancy and soon found the perfect couch for our space. We also found some great recliner chairs and small tables for one of our upstairs rooms, and we bought those too.

When we got home, Erin posted an ad on Craigslist to offer our old couch for free to anyone who was willing to pick it up. We would have donated it to charity, but most charities wouldn’t take it. Erin got about 40 replies to her ad in 24 hours, and we gave the old couch to some people who were grateful to squeeze more life out of it.

I’m very much enjoying the new couch and chairs. In retrospect it seems like such a silly block to have. The solution was that I had to reassess my attitude toward people who use their money to reward themselves. I went from “What a waste of money; do they really need a new X?” to “Great to see people enjoying the rewards of success; they certainly deserve it!” Once I shifted my attitude toward others, my inner relationship with that aspect of abundance also changed. And soon my external reality came into harmony with the new attitude.

Even working through small blocks can bring more success into your life, sometimes in unexpected ways. Around the same time I was working through this block, some new interview requests came in. Later this month Deepak Chopra will be interviewing me for his radio show, and next month Jack Canfield is scheduled to interview me as well. Did they appear on my radar as a result of my inner shift?

Who are the people you hate most in your life? Who are the people you love most? Can you admit that your attitude toward those people is going to have to change if you want to change your relationship with what they represent?

Can you see that if you harbor ill feelings toward the top performers in your field, you’ll never become a top performer yourself?

Before posting this article, I asked Erin to give it a quick read. When she was done, she asked me, “How do you feel about people who have decent patio furniture?”

What, those losers??? ;)


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