Before our son was born, my wife and I used to spend a ton of time boating and wakeboarding on the lake near
I bought my boat about two years after I paid off my student loans and quit my teaching job to blog full time. I wasn’t rich and was still working my way to success, so getting close to those millionaires felt like I was joining a secret mastermind group where everyone had 100 times more experience and business savvy than I did.
Now that I’m in the process of selling my boat, I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic about my time on the lake and what I learned. Honestly, those lessons have had a profound impact as I build my business, optimize my time and money, and improve my overall mindset, and I’m excited to share them with you today.
Lesson #1: They Are Willing to Take Risks
More than just
I think a lot about risk and reward in terms of when I quit teaching. My site had earned hardly anything, and I had just taken this massive leap by quitting my job. Because blogging is a slow business model, I quickly learned that I needed an alternative source of income and taught myself how to run Facebook ads for some local businesses. The incredible thing is that in about six months, I was out-earning what I made as a teacher and ultimately parlayed my digital marketing skills into a wildly successful digital marketing course and second business that I built with my good friend Mike Yanda.
That’s the short version, and it took a ton of hustle to make things work. But I think I’m a smarter and more successful person because of that.
After that decision, I realized that success and failure aren’t the only options when you take a risk — you can also learn something new about yourself, discover a new skill, and end up where you’re meant to be.
The point is that successful people understand that the potential for reward is far better than doing nothing at all.
Lesson #2: They Know Money Can Buy Happiness
Several years ago, I was hanging out on my good friend’s Sea-Ray 460 (think: big, expensive boat), and I mentioned that money doesn’t buy happiness. His response changed my view on that completely. He said, “Money by itself can’t buy happiness, but it can buy or produce things that make you happy.”
He meant that money can lead to early retirement, a sweet boat, a nice house, vacations, financial security, etc.
What’s more interesting is that research shows that money certainly does lead to happiness for many people. New research from Matthew Killingsworth, Daniel Kahneman, and Barbara Mellers shows that larger incomes provide a greater sense of happiness for most people.
Since that conversation with my friend, my income has grown significantly, and I can attest that I do feel more overall satisfaction with my life. I know my family has what they need. We can go on some pretty awesome vacations, and I don’t feel stressed out about sudden expenses.
Money isn’t everything, but it sure helps!
Lesson #3: They Shamelessly Self-Promote
There is nothing wrong with being humble. It’s actually a wonderful trait, but if you’re humble to the point that nobody knows what you’re capable of, then you’re doing yourself a disservice.
One thing I’ve noticed about successful people is that it doesn’t take too long to figure out what makes them great at what they do. Either they will talk about it, or the people they know will do it for them.
If you struggle with talking about yourself, think about it this way: there’s probably someone out there who could benefit from knowing more about what you do. Maybe your story will motivate someone else to take a leap, or you can offer guidance to a friend. It’s also an excellent way to build a network of like-minded people.
Lesson #4: They Know How To Sell
The reality is that if you want to make money, you generally need to learn how to sell products or your own skills to progress in your career. For example, I’m terrible at selling in the “traditional” way. Maybe it’s because I’ve always preferred a blunt approach to the style of sales-talk that comes off as misleading or fake, and I’m definitely not extroverted or high energy enough to be a salesperson.
However, learning how to sell on my site was imperative. The same went for learning how to sell my marketing services. I just found a way to do it that I enjoy.
If you aren’t an entrepreneur, you still have to learn how to sell your skillset and show why you’re a producer at your company instead of a consumer.
Lesson #5: They Don’t Rely On Luck
There are a lot of stories online about people who make $1 million plus a year and only work five hours a week. To the casual browser, these stories appear fake or like the person is simply lucky.
The truth is that I know people who have found financial success and work far less than the average person. But they got to that point by working over 80 hours a week, working multiple side hustles, taking massive risks, etc. Because most people can’t fathom that reality, it’s easier to assume that luck is responsible for someone’s wealth or success.
The problem with that assumption is that you limit your own potential. You’re telling yourself that you have to catch a break to make it, and I truly believe that anyone can build the life they want.
Sure, some people have an advantage when they start, but if you want to be wealthy, be your own boss, and reach the kind of success you want, you have to accept that it takes a considerable amount of work to achieve it.
Lesson #6 They Surround Themselves With Successful People
If there’s a skill you want to get better at, spending time with people who excel at that skill is one of the best ways to advance yourself. And I believe that’s true for more than just golf, pickleball, or any other hobby or sport.
Being near successful people naturally happens as you become successful, but you can take advantage of conferences and networking events in the beginning. And don’t forget about podcasts, articles, and books! It’s about steeping yourself in that world, and the reason this works is that you’re learning the jargon, getting insider tips, understanding the mindset, and learning practical steps to become the person you want to be.
Finding a mentor or a friend who’s accomplished what you want is even better. This gives you the chance to be around successful people as often as possible and listen closely, ask questions, and learn.
In my opinion, there are a ton of factors that go into making someone a “success.” And we all have our own versions on what success means. It can be debt freedom, starting a business, reaching $1 million in investments, or something entirely different.
What I have tried to do is very closely observe how these people act and then apply it to my own projects and life. I feel pretty confident that my online business will be successful because of it (and some could argue that it already is).