Nine Pillars of Success

Posted on May 6, 2013 by

A civic group asked if I would speak to its members about success. After being in “the game” for nearly 40 years and achieving much success – along with experiencing a ton of failures – I’ve whittled my list of attributes needed for success down to nine.

First, let’s acknowledge that each person’s definition of “success” is different. More importantly, it’s a mistake to make my definition your definition. You must decide what success means to you!

Sadly, lots of folks never take the time or make the effort to write down what success means to them. This is like getting in the car to go on vacation without having a destination in mind. How will you know if you’re on the right road, or whether you ever arrived?

Here are my Nine Pillars of Success: Action, Persistence, Sacrifice, Belief, Integrity, Associations, Life-long Learning, Loving What You Do and Giving Back. Let’s briefly look at each attribute.

The most important pillar is Action. Nothing happens until you do something. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, DO SOMETHING! Mistakes can be fixed and obstacles overcome. If your goal is to be a successful real estate investor, then go meet with some sellers today. If your goal is to lose weight, then begin exercising more and eating less today. Get at it – whatever “it” is – TODAY!

Persistence is number two and goes hand in hand with action. It’s one thing to start something, but quite another to keep at it. We all make goals; that’s the easy part. Working day after day to achieve our goals is much, much harder. Nothing takes the place of persistence!

My buddy Houston Long pointed out a critical attribute that I hadn’t thought of: Sacrifice. He said, “One thing that’s been a huge factor on our journey to success is SACRIFICE – mentally, physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. You have to be willing to sacrifice certain things to attain success: family time, leisure time, spending on wants and creature comforts, etc. Everything has a price or trade off, including success.”

Belief certainly belongs on this list. You gotta believe! When Kim and I got into real estate investing, we joined our local real estate investors group. This gave us the opportunity to meet with successful been-there-and-done-that investors. Though we knew zero about real estate investing, we believed that if “these guys” could make it, then so could we.

Integrity is about treating people right – not because the law or a contract says so, but because your soul says it’s the right thing to do. Remember: Your reputation gets to a meeting long before you do!

Associations: Don’t waste your time hanging out with negative people. Rarely will you bring them up and often they’ll bring you down! Associate yourself with positive, like-minded people.

Change is one of life’s constants – the cheese is always being moved! For example, the way Kim and I invested in real estate in 2009 looks NOTHING like what we are doing today. Almost everything is different. To stay ahead of the game, it’s critical to realize that learning doesn’t end when we get our sheepskin (for you young folks, this means “diploma,” not an actual sheepskin). Graduation is just one step in our life-long journey of learning.

Next: You either need to love what you’re doing or love why you’re doing it. We have friends, Joe and Ashley English, who love to sing. For them, singing is always a pleasure. On the other hand, my mother sold Electrolux vacuums door-to-door for 28 years. In the beginning she didn’t like it – but she loved what her commissions did for our family.

The final pillar is giving back. It’s hard to give back – be it time, knowledge or money – while you’re growing your business. But once you’ve achieved success, most folks have an incredibly strong need to give back…to help others on their journey up. It’s a way of telling God, “Thanks, I’m grateful for all the gifts you’ve given me!” (Note: We believe in tithing no matter what. It’s not a case of us giving 10%. Rather it’s a case of us getting to keep 90%.)

Last thing: Did you notice that genius, talent, social circumstances and luck are not on this list? Think about that for a bit. When Kim read this paragraph she said, “It’s not where you came from, it’s where you’re going that’s important.”

Hope this list helps you build your own Pillars of Success.

Bill & Kim CookBill & Kim Cook are a husband and wife real estate investing team. They live in Adairsville, Georgia and have been investing in real estate since 1995. They specialize in buying single-family homes, mobile homes and mobile home parks. They also run North Georgia REIA and teach folks how to successfully invest in real estate.

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