Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success - by Rory Vaden

Commit to the Ridiculous

How committed are you to changing your life for the better? What are you willing to sacrifice?

I decided awhile back to start taking the stairs everywhere instead of taking the escalator. It’s a symbolic gesture, but people all around me have noticed it; they understand the reason behind this everyday practice, and they, too, have committed to start to Take the Stairs as an outward sign of their inner commitment to lead a more self-disciplined life.

What if we did adopt the habit to Take the Stairs in both a literal and metaphorical sense? Imagine how simple that would make our decisions. Whenever we had a choice to make, we would choose the "hard right" over the "easy wrong." We could make decisions quickly and with confidence knowing that most people will not make the same choices that we make, but also trusting that most people will not have the same development, growth, or results that we have. Those are exactly the choices that successful people are making all over the planet right now!

Learn to fall in love with the daily grind. Successful people take pride in tackling the tasks that other people rebuke. They understand that there is no real finish line, no magic moment when they will "arrive" and get to rest on their laurels. Discipline is a perpetual process, and the growth is in the journey. Simple, but here’s the part that you won’t like hearing—you don’t get a day off. Ever.

The Rent Axiom: Success is never owned, it is only rented—and the rent is due every day.

Problems that are procrastinated on are only amplified, and we’re the ones who pay the price.

Create a clear picture of what you want in the long run and you will find that your endurance for pain and strife, discipline and hard work will naturally increase to levels you never thought you had. A new world will open up for you—a world where you can have anything you want... as long as you commit.

The more we have invested in something, the less likely we are to let it fail.

Very often the emotional energy of making a decision is greater than the physical energy of executing that decision. We need to stop spending so much of our time trying to make the right decisions and instead start spending our time making decisions and then making them right.

If we aren’t consciously choosing a good attitude, then we are unconsciously choosing a poor one.

Changing from the question "Should I?" to "How will I?" is the mind-set shift that makes all the difference.

If you are at a pivot point in your life and you truly want to make a change, then you must act now. You must increase the stakes, raise the price, and increase the amount of time and money you are investing into whatever it is that matters to you. Because if you don’t shift from "I'm not sure yet" to "I am in for good," then you are already naturally slipping back into doing things the way you have always done them. And realize that indecision often costs you more than the wrong decision does. Or as my friend and pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Pete Wilson, says, "The cost of missing out is more than the cost of messing up."

Crush It Where You’re At

"Rory, when do I know if I should leave to try something new?"

If you’re not maximizing your potential where you are, then you can never know if you should leave because you haven’t experienced all that it has to offer. Another way of thinking about it is that your decision will look much different after you’ve committed and played wholeheartedly, with full effort, than it does right now. Without ever doing that, it’s not fair to yourself or the other people involved to leave your current situation.

So, you must crush it where you’re at. You must dominate whatever it is that you are doing. You must do everything in your power to reach the top of whatever game it is you are playing. Because if you don’t, then you are not a successful person looking for a new challenge to take on; you’re a person with conditional commitment looking for a new set of circumstances, and most likely starting the same self-defeating pattern all over again. Success isn’t a matter of circumstance; it’s a matter of choice. Finding new circumstances won’t make you successful, but making new choices will.

Focus: The Magnification Principle

I was engaged in activities all day, but I wasn’t making progress. I was being efficient, but I wasn’t being effective. I was doing things right, but I wasn’t doing the right things. As the old anonymous quote goes, "In the absence of disciplined focus, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia."

If there isn’t a defined objective or outcome for the activities you’re engaged in, stop doing them!

Our experience coaching hundreds of clients is that for today’s intellectual workforce, discipline is about focusing on what’s most important, learning to let go of minutiae, and being okay with delaying the less important tasks to an appropriate time.

Peace of mind comes from falling in love with the fact that there is simply and certainly always going to be more to do than we have time for. It’s only as we embrace the incredible volume of noise in our work and our lives that we can silence it—or at least reduce it to a dull roar. Ignore the noise. Conquer the critical. Manage the minutiae.

The amount of your endurance, and the intensity of your focus, is directly proportionate to the clarity of your vision.

Integrity: The Creation Principle

The Creation Principle of Integrity states that all of creation follows a simple and powerful pattern: You think it, you speak it, you act it, it happens.

Positive Ways to Strengthen Your Word

  • Inventing Possibility. What changes do you want to bring about in your life? Start small, and as you gain confidence, you can make bigger and bigger verbal commitments.
  • Expressing Gratitude.
  • Compliments.
  • Seeing People for Who They Can Become
  • Holding People Accountable.

Negative Ways to Weaken Your Word

  • Breaking Our Promises.
  • Uncontrolled Language. Are you considerate of how your words are affecting the people around you?
  • Tearing Others Down.
  • Creating Back Doors. Undisciplined people are often afraid to make commitments. They are afraid to say "I will" or "I do" to most things. Because they don’t have confidence that they will be able to follow through on their word, they create "back doors" or verbal and mental escape hatches so that they can abandon their commitments and still save face when they become inconvenient.
  • Gossip.
  • Using Too Many Words.
  • Intellectual Dishonesty. Intellectual dishonesty is simply allowing someone to believe something that you know is not true. Intellectual dishonesty is tricky to spot because it’s not something that you say; it’s what you don’t say.

Schedule: The Harvest Principle

The law of the harvest says: Focused effort is amplified by appropriate timing and regimented routine.

Balance shouldn’t mean equal time spent on equal activities. Balance should mean appropriate time spent on critical priorities.

The biggest problem with the notion of balance is that it causes us to ask the wrong questions. Instead of asking, "Am I spending enough time on this activity?" we should really be asking, "When is the best time to be focused on this activity?"

Instead of asking ourselves, "How can I fit more in?" we should be asking, "What season(s) is my life in right now, when is the right time to be completing its associated activities, and what are the right things I need to do to maximize my harvest of this season?" Focused effort is amplified by appropriate timing and regimented routine.

Double-Time Part Time for Full-Time Free Time

A healthy approach to time management in the twenty-first century is one that asks, "Is what I’m doing right now the best use of my time at this moment? Am I accomplishing the most important item at the most opportune time?" Instead of trying to do a lot of things equally at once for the sake of doing a little bit of everything, it is better to be selecting one or a few of the most critical priorities and effectively imbalancing your life in the direction of the most timely. Of course, what is timely and what is most important are constantly shuffling and changing according to each of the areas of our daily lives.

Don’t allow yourself the indulgence of saying, "I’m too busy." The moment you tell yourself you’re too busy is the moment you stop thinking creatively about how to get other potentially important items into your schedule and your routine.

Get relentless about putting your self-esteem into your work habits instead of your results.

Action: The Pendulum Principle

You are much more likely to act your way into healthy thinking than to think your way into healthy acting. — Roger Seip

Any resolution that is made today must again be made tomorrow. — Albert Gray

We consistently find that people who are struggling with inaction or procrastination invariably have one of the following three deep-rooted attitudes: Fear: "I’m scared to do it." Entitlement: "I shouldn’t have to do it." Perfectionism: "I won’t try to do it if I can’t do it right."

  • FEAR. Action is the cure for fear. It’s okay to be scared — do it scared. It’s okay to be unsure — do it unsure. It’s okay to be uncomfortable — do it uncomfortable. Just get started where you are. That is the attitude of the most disciplined and successful people on the planet.

  • ENTITLEMENT. The exact moment entitlement engages is the same moment our self-discipline disengages. Entitlement is the end of achievement. Reject it.

  • PERFECTIONISM. Instead of working, we wait. We wait for the perfect plan, the perfect time, and the perfect resources. The problem is, the perfect circumstances never show up. What was once a harmless decision of opting for safety soon becomes a limiting, even debilitating lifestyle of inaction. Cultivate the habit of action in your life by being relentless about making progress, while letting go of the demand for perfection. You overcome perfectionism by insisting not on stellar results, but on stellar effort.