In my early 20’s, I was told something by a very successful mentor that has always resonated with me and stayed in my mind since, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” When I was told this, my first reaction was one of confusion, but quickly I responded, “Well, teach me what I don’t know then!”
From that point forward, I started asking myself when it came to almost everything, “What is it that I don’t know here…and how do I find out? What should I know?” This has served me, and others that learned from the same mentor, very well over the years. For me, it kicked off a 5 year journey where I spent just about every extra moment, evenings, weekends, etc. seeking out and learning what I did not know on different topics. This led me to be able spend time, work with, and learn from some of the greatest mentors and business minds of our time. People like Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, top entrepreneurs, marketing gurus, and a billionaire among others.
In working with these people and observing them, I began to see some uniquely different habits that they possessed and used in their lives.
Of course, they had all the things you have read about before…they were focused, dialed in, had honed their mindset, planned things for success, knew how to build a true business, etc. But, it was the more odd habits that stood out to me. The ones, that in addition to the others made them,....well, them.
Here are 3 Habits of extraordinarily successful people:
They Practice “Ready, Fire, Aim”
As much as these people were dialed in and had everything planned for success from start to finish, they possessed an element of “Ready, Fire, Aim.” They do not get mired too far into the details and they know that no matter what they do, the first release of anything; be it a book, product/service, business, etc. will not be perfect and need to be fine-tuned over time. They love “Ready, Fire, Aim” and embrace it. They get things to where they are pretty good and then go. They learn and course-correct from the first adopters’ feedback and from a process of continuous improvement.
We all could do well to learn from this as many times, we have a great idea for something and fear doing it because “it’s not perfect.” Here’s the thing – It never will be! No matter what, you can always find ways to improve things. So, don’t get stuck in the paralysis of perfection, go out and “Ready, Fire, Aim,” and then get better from there. You will probably fail, but the failure just helps you make things better. The mere act of moving from idea to action is an accomplishment.
They Develop a “Quick Wit”
One of the habits that was and is most interesting to me, and that I’ve really embraced, is cultivating a “quick wit.” Some people are born witty and are naturally quick on the uptake, others aren’t. But one of the things that extraordinary successful people realize is that they need to be able to understand and decipher things quickly – and that the response they have in situations can make a huge difference in their success.
For example, the ability to read a room quickly, understand the personality types, decipher who is uncomfortable with your presence, and make the right joke or comment to put them at ease is a great skill, especially in sales.
I recently sat in a room of 15 people, at a Fortune 100, discussing a potential business partnership. These people were from all different backgrounds and from all of the world, US, UK, China, etc. They all came to the meeting with their own pre-conceived notions and thoughts about our team and the potential partnership. As I scanned the room, I could quickly tell who were the more outgoing people that were excited vs. those that were more reserved, skeptical, and maybe a little apprehensive. So, what did we do? Instead of getting right into business, we started the meeting by getting this “elephant” out of the way. We asked them to share their initial thoughts coming into the meeting and to tell us what was most important to them, and we made a few quick witted jokes around this to put them at ease. Only when everyone was smiling and comfortable in the room, did we proceed to get into details and begin the negotiations. And it made a huge difference! By the time we were done with our almost 4 hour meeting, some of the biggest champions were those that were more apprehensive in the beginning.
Developing your own version of “quick wit” will serve you very well and allow you to diffuse uncomfortable situations. It will also make you more likable, help you to become a thought leader, and a great resource for others.
One of the easiest ways to start on this? Stay in tune with current events. It’s amazing, even in today’s 24/7 news and information environment, how little people stay up on current events. Set up some Google alerts and news feeds for pertinent topics in your business and life, and keep up with what’s going on. You never know when a little tidbit will serve you well in conversation.
They Stay True to Themselves and Are Willing to Go it Alone
Extraordinarily successful people create their own internal compass to guide them. They create their own rules for their life, values, and disciplines, and they stay true to them. Where some people will change themselves or their values to appeal to those they are with or trying to get something from (think politicians); the extraordinarily successful don’t. They are who they are and they stay true to their compass. This can be tough for those that have to work with them. When there are times that those surrounding them see an opportunity or situation where “If they just compromised on this value or personal rule a little bit, it would make such a difference,” and they don’t, it can be frustrating. Now, there is a difference between being pig-headed and compromising your values for some sort of gain, but the extraordinarily successful inherently understand this difference and use their “quick wit” to help them make these decisions.
The point is that these people march to their own tune that they have put in place for themselves and stay true to it, where most others aren’t strong enough to do that in life. That is something to be respected and emulated, and something that you can do as well. For an example of some personal rules for life, check out this post on “How I’m Taking Myself to the Next Level and You Can Too!”
Everyone has something that they do or they are capable of that makes them extraordinary. The trick is to not only figure it out, but truly learn “what you don’t know” to make yourself a master of it. Be inquisitive throughout your life and ask yourself “What is it I don’t know? Where do I go to learn?” and then go figure it out. You’ll be amazed at how extraordinary you can be!