While serving as the Director of Mental Training for the St. Louis Cardinals,Dr. Jason Selk helped the team win their first World Series in over 20 years, and in 2011 he assisted the Cardinals in the historic feat of winning their second World Championship in a six year period. Considered to be one of the nation’s premier performance coaches, Dr. Selk helps numerous well-known professional and Olympic athletes as well as Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 executives and organizations develop the mental toughness necessary for high-level success. In this column for Forbes.com, Dr. Selk writes about the importance of learning success from those who are more successful:
Edward Jones is one of the country’s largest investment firms, and lands repeatedly on Fortune Magazine’s top places to work in America. There is no dispute that this company understands the keys to achievement. Edward Jones is run as a partnership, as in the people who work at Edward Jones, own Edward Jones. Earlier this year, David Otto, retiring Partner at Edward Jones, left his former colleagues an amazing gift. He left them his advice for success in business in the form of a letter to them. The effectiveness of this advice is evidenced by the success of his career at Edward Jones. Through this letter and advice, Otto left his colleagues tips to better think like him because he understands the necessity of effective thinking. In fact, one of the pieces of his advice was to study how high achievers think.
In business, the highly successful understand the importance of learning from those who are even more successful. Otto wrote to his former colleagues, “If you want to be the best, then learn from the best.” This advise is integral no matter what level of accomplishment one has already achieved. Business owners, CEO’s, and other high level leaders all have a similar problem: there are very few people above them to give them guidance. This can be dangerous because we are all limited by the scope of our own knowledge. When it comes to knowledge, learn what truly works from those who have already made it.
A successful business owner I work with is constantly reading biographies of individuals who have made an impact on the world. In his business, the buck stops with him, so he seeks inspiration and knowledge from those with more experience. I encourage all my clients to study the highly successful because, quite simply, they have an immense amount to teach us.
Take the following three steps to surround yourself with knowledge to further your business and drive.
Find a mentor. Identify someone in your field whom you admire or who has achieved a level of success to which you aspire. Reach out to that person and set up a lunch date. Be sure to communicate how much you admire his or her career/work, and have questions prepared before the meeting. Repeat this process monthly with either the same individual or someone new. Set up a reminder in your calendar to prompt you to set up a meeting.
Study greatness. Identify someone outside of your field who has achieved greatness (e.g., favorite athlete, CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or an influential philanthropist), and spend 5 minutes per day reading about his or her life. Find articles about that person or pick up a biography. Doing so can give you new insight on how to accomplish even greater things in your field of discipline.
Be accountable. Find a photo of someone whom you admire (this may be one of the people from above), write the phrase, “BE RELENTLESS-NO EXCUSE,” and place it on your desk. Use this as a reminder of the sacrifices and mental toughness required to achieve greatness, and as a reminder to use what you have learned about this person to promote your own growth and decision-making.
Our world is filled with people (past and present) who have achieved greatness, and the most successful have an obsession with improving their skill and knowledge. To drive your business to higher levels, you must continually feed that obsession with advice and inspiration from those who have achieved it. Surround yourself with lessons of greatness, and watch your business reach new levels of success.