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What’s “the one thing” you need to be successful?

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Recently, when I attended the Results University Fitness Business Conference, at one point Alwyn Cosgrove said that he gets asked this question all the time:

“What’s ‘the one thing’ that I need to do to be successful in the fitness industry?”

His answer: Just be awesome.

It is obviously impossible to narrow down all of the pieces of success into “one single thing” and so what else can you say except, just be friggin’ awesome? :) I loved it. It’s absolutely true–in the fitness industry and in, well, just life in general.

But, how to be awesome in life?

I have actually been mulling this post over in my head for a few weeks now, because, who am I to say what makes someone awesome? I wanted to find a way to create a useful blog post out of this idea, but it would take time to find the right angle or tone. After brainstorming a bit, I figured I would just tell you, based on my experiences and the research that I’ve done (“research in awesome”?) what my personal opinion is on the subject. Here is my list of awesome qualities and ways to cultivate them to magnify success. I certainly don’t possess them all, and many times have a hard time even practicing the ones I do have. I wanted to post this as a reminder for what I personally want to strive for, and if you like it, hopefully it can help you too :) Here we go:

Humility. In Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great” he sites humility as one of the defining characteristics of a Level 5 Leader–someone who effectively leads but allows their subordinates to shine too. This quality is all about understanding that you could not have gotten to where you are without people who helped you along the way, and recognizing that gratitude is a key component in any endeavor. Be humble, acknowledge others and realize that everyone else has a right to the same importance you do.

Generosity. “It is the giving that we receive.” When you practicing generosity towards others, you are able to deepen your own personal sense of fulfillment. This can be anything from traditional avenues like charity and volunteerism to using the internet to help others achieve their goals in fitness. If you are running a business online, I feel it is your duty to be generous. Giving freely with your information and expertise is how you build trust. And how will potential clients know what you are about without seeing the good first? There is no downside to giving.

Relatedness (and empathy). Jade and I talk about this often, especially since we often give lectures and are often in a place of teaching. It is easy to come off as “better than” and pretend like the things that our clients are going through are not troublesome for us too. But that’s just a bunch of crap because no one is better than anyone else and we all share the same struggles. I hope that if you read JillFit, you feel that from me. It’s certainly a balance I strive for (relatedness but also inspiring). Ultimately, people want to be related to. We want to know that someone has been where we have been and understands us. This is the reason before & after photos are so powerful. It’s important to establish and admit, as a coach or “expert” that you do not have it all figured out all the time. There’s nothing inspired about perfection–it simply moves you further away from those you help.

Unshakeable positive attitude. If you have been reading JillFit, you know that we talk about positivity a lot. Not to be negative, but we hate negativity :) I think John C. Maxwell said it best in his book “Today Matters”: “The bottom line on attitude is that a good one helps to increase your possibilities. Pessimists usually get what they expect. So do optimists. Believing in yourself increases your chances of success. Looking for the positive in every situation helps you see opportunities that you would otherwise miss. Being positive with people prompts them to be positive with you–and individuals who interact well with others have a leg up on people who don’t. I can’t think of one legitimate criticism of positive thinking. It’s all good.” Indeed :)

Resilience. This is one of the toughest traits to cultivate, simply because obstacles suck. When they come up, we can easily take them to mean we are a failure, or we are not meant to be doing what we are doing. However, the opportunity for resilience is always available to us in those moments. They are simply a choice of perspective. Do we resign ourselves to the fate that we suck? Or do we CHOOSE to perceive obstacles and mess-ups as feedback and opportunities for growth. Almost every book on entrepreneurship cites resilience as one of the top characteristics of successful people. In fact, the more failures you endure, learning and getting back up after each one, the more likely you are to be successful. “If you want to be successful, double your failure rate.” –Thomas J. Watson

Don’t take things personally. This is one of my personal challenges and something I work on everyday. Taking things personally is the norm. We all do it, by nature. Someone says something, we automatically assume we did something wrong or we are to blame. Not the case. You are fine. They are fine. It’s all good :) There is exceptional personal freedom to be had in “letting things go,” not in the sense that they get brushed under the rug, but in the sense that anything anyone says or does is because of them, not you. My personal practice is this: People will always do what they do. <—That is the only expectation I allow myself to have for others and it allows me to be free. There’s no judgment.

Give people the benefit of the doubt. Building on the above quality, giving people the benefit of the doubt is extremely powerful. It is an amazing gift because it allows others to feel safe, and it allows for you to be happy. Why not? What use is there to not allowing people to be themselves? People are who they are, they do what they do. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is an amazing gift–it’s something that we cherish when we receive it, and something for which others are grateful when we grant it. There’s no downside.

Non-judgmental. This could be the hardest thing to practice on this list. Certainly I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t judge. BUT, the key here is this: Allow people to be themselves. My personal practice is this: I understand that people are different than me, and there is no “good” or “bad” about it. How can I know what’s best for someone else, really? How can I apply my personal “rules” to someone else? There is nothing more liberating than the feeling that you are not being judged, that you can be yourself. It is a gift you can give to others, and a gift to receive it.

Open-minded. Similar to the above. Being open to outcomes, and not attached to them is liberating. It changes your perspective on life. It allows for you to not have expectations of how thing should be or how people should act. Open-mindedness never back-fires–it makes us more empathic, allows us to experience more, broadens our perspectives and ultimately increases our chances of realizing success.

Gratitude. Nothing changes your outlook like adopting an “attitude of gratitude.” You can be grateful for your successes and your failures because you know you get a chance to learn at every turn. Never withhold praise for others. Why would you, unless you had an insecurity around it? If you find you are stingy with your thank-yous, than ask yourself what is holding you back. What insecurity does it exploit for you? When you genuinely and freely compliment others, it does not take away from you or lessen your contributions in any way. In fact, it empowers you! And them!

So, in the interest of relatedness and gratitude, I want to take a second to say a big THANK YOU to all who read and participate in this blog. It is an incredible gift for me to be able to share with you–one for which I am constantly appreciative. I also hope that you feel a sense of relatedness and empathy from me in the posts. I want you to know that everything written in the blogs is from my own personal experience, struggles, obstacles, neuroses :) and all the ups and downs along the way to self-improvement and optimal health. It’s been a long trek, and I am grateful to you for joining me!  oxox Jill

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