Guideline #1: Define your value—do not let others determine your significance.
How you view yourself can make a huge difference in how you approach and handle both opportunities and obstacles. The self-made Super Rich often have very high opinions of themselves. These perceptions might not completely match reality, of course, but their powerful positive attitudes—their high levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy (one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed)—can help tremendously in getting things done. That, I quickly translate into economic gains.
Important: When defining your value, you might have to push back on the limitations other people place on you. It’s not uncommon for others to try to bring you down. At these times, you need to ensure they do not define you. You, not the people around you, decide the value you bring to the table. When we asked some of the self-made Super Rich about the value they deliver in different situations, they usually came up with specific answers.
For example, they help put together deals, make introductions that lead to more business for all parties involved, and track down hard-to-find information by tapping into their networks of experts. Ask yourself what you are extremely good at that makes a difference in your professional life. It can be your expertise in a particular area, your exceptional interpersonal skills, your analytic abilities or something else entirely. Whatever it is, think through the value you are bringing in different scenarios because of those capabilities you possess.
Guideline #2: Work your agenda—do not just be responsive to someone else’s.
To excel, most people need high-level goals and a plan—an agenda—to achieve those goals. If instead you simply react to events and lack direction about how you plan to become wealthy, you will very likely not create a personal fortune of any appreciable size. Take this step: Write your own story in which you are a major character. You need to be in control of your professional life and determine the path you are going to follow. Very likely you will need to make refinements, and possibly dramatic changes, to your agenda to be responsive to what is going on around you. But at every step, you—not someone else—are the person making the decisions. It is far too easy to get sidetracked when focusing on helping someone else achieve their agenda. There is nothing wrong with being supportive, of course.
The law of reciprocity suggests that support you give will come back to you someday . It’s when being supportive becomes detrimental to your success that there likely is something wrong.
Guideline #3: Help other people succeed. Do not miss opportunities to create greater success for those around you.
Working your own agenda does not mean ignoring others or being selfish with your time and energy. By and large, the self-made Super Rich see success as unlimited. Financial accomplishments are not zero sum: Someone does not have to lose for them to win. Quite the opposite, in fact. Generally speaking, they regularly strive for everyone to achieve more.
Some of the self-made Super Rich have this perspective because they see it as the right thing to do. They habitually are looking beyond themselves and are interested in ways of making the world better. They help others succeed in many ways, from mentoring to investing to philanthropy.
Some of the self-made Super Rich have adopted this perspective for a host of professional reasons. For example, helping others excel creates a plethora of business opportunities for them. And in being valuable to other people, the self-made Super Rich are collecting favors that could prove quite beneficial down the road.
Guideline #4: Surround yourself with talented people. Do not settle for those who are second rate.
The people you deal with and surround yourself with can have a major impact on how successful you ultimately become. There are a lot of unquestionably toxic people who clearly should be avoided. There are even more second-rate individuals who can potentially, and unintentionally, crash your agenda.
Your goal is to work with extremely talented, first-rate people. The professionals you engage, for example, can make an enormous difference in your financial success. In the world of wealth management, for instance, there are relatively few consummate professionals. So many advisors today are pretenders—people who want to do a good job but lack the knowledge and skills to do so. What’s more, pretenders typically do not recognize how limited their skills and capabilities are. They are second-rate but don’t know it—which means it’s up to you to critically evaluate those people around you and cut them lose if they don’t measure up.
You want to surround yourself with people who regularly exceed your expectations of them. They consistently do more than you envision, and they do it on their own initiative, not because you have to pester them.
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