Now more than ever, success is about embracing the new normal, breaking rules, and doing what feels right and is right even if it goes against conventional wisdom. Experts shared what they believe is key for success in this new era.
With phones constantly pinging to alert us to texts, group chats, e-mails and social media feeds, people tend to confuse activity with progress.
“Entrepreneurs will need to develop skills that allow them to hyperfocus on their priorities rather than reacting to all the overwhelming inputs,” says Jeff Bussgang, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and former entrepreneur-turned venture capitalist.
The best tip for hyperfocusing, he explains, is to “distill your annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly objectives to three bullets each on a single printed page which you put on your desk. Remind yourself of that page every day.”
2. Be ‘constructively insecure’
If this article were accompanied by music, this is the part when the record would scratch to a halt.
Any form of insecurity has no place in personal or business life, right? Wrong.
“To survive and thrive in the new era as a leader, you need to have ‘constructive insecurity,’” says Peter Lacy, a managing director for Growth, Strategy and Sustainability in Accenture. “The old adage goes that only the paranoid survive—but they also burn out and create toxic work environments. However, those who constantly challenge themselves and their teams to go above and beyond are becoming ever-more successful given the speed and complexity of doing business in the modern world.”
Lacy also points out that there are those who “no matter how much praise or how proud they are of an outcome, don’t believe their own press. They still have a healthy doubt that makes them ask the question ‘What could we do better next time?”
While we have always been exhorted otherwise, it seems that not believing in yourself one hundred percent may be the humble, counterintuitive way to success.
3. Get grit
According to Angela Duckworth, PhD, psychologist and best-selling author, the most important habit for people to cultivate in 2017 is grit: “The capacity to sustain commitment and effort to a long-term goal.”
It’s about combining passion with perseverance.
“Accomplishing anything worthwhile,” says Dr. Duckworth, “is almost by definition to attempt what is difficult. Otherwise, someone else would have done it by now!”
Grit is what happens when hard work collides with hard knocks— the friction keeps you going but also polishes you up along the way.
4. Consider your haters a sign of success
Trolls on social media took online savagery to otherworldly levels this past year—which reminds of a social media personality who has found extraordinary success with his ‘over the top’ approach to engagement on social media—Josh ‘The Fat Jew’ Ostrovsky.
Ostrovsky’s solution for dealing with haters is, ‘Never read the comments’.
He continues, “Or do, but don’t take them seriously. People are trolling so hard, a teen will write something like ‘you look like Shrek with [too offensive to publish] and you’re not funny, you turd sandwich!!’ and sometimes when I’m stoned I’ll actually go to their page and be like, ‘Now you’re gonna get trolled, you little b****’ and he’ll be like, ‘OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU RESPONDED, THIS IS SO KILLER!!!”
There’s a point in all this.
“The point is, most people don’t even believe the hate they are spewing at you,” explains Ostrovsky. “They just want to be heard. Also, if they are real haters, that’s a good thing. It’s a status symbol.”
These days, online abuse isn’t only directed at celebrities since most people maintain public profiles on social media. There are always going to be people who ‘low key’ hate that you’re doing better than they are. Sometimes they’re even close to home: Colleagues, family or friends. If you want staggering success, if you want to be loved or respected for what you do, you must become comfortable with the idea that some people won’t like you for it. Perhaps that’s when you know you’re on to something.
5. Be your authentic self – especially on social media
Ostrovsky, who has over nine million followers on Instagram, says success on social media is attributed to two crucial factors: “Having a unique voice that is entirely your own, while simultaneously pandering to mainstream sensibilities and subject matter that the internet traditionally gravitates toward.”
In this era, what’s considered more offensive than just being offensive is inauthentic self-promotion, which venture capitalist Bussgang says is far more ‘crass’ and worse, is ‘dismissed’. “Entrepreneurs need to watch this carefully or they will get filtered out.”
Bussgang believes that self-promotion is fool’s gold. “Investors,” he warns, “avoid backing self-promoters. Articulate visionaries, yes. Savvy social marketers, yes. Magnetic thought leaders, yes. But not self-promoters.”
6. Get more ‘street’
There’s a new trend brewing called EMO-nomics which sees emotion as the new currency. Faith Popcorn, the renowned futurist and best-selling author, weighs in: “Look at Trump’s win and his behaviour as President-elect. It tells the whole story.”
To succeed in this era, being logical and book smart isn’t enough. “We are in the midst of a seismic shift away from corporate structure toward start-ups; away from traditional education toward online skills learning. And a shift from playing by the rules to being more emotion-driven,” she explains.
Popcorn describes street smarts as “quick thinking, raw ambition, tenacity, negotiation—jumping in wherever you see an opportunity and barrelling ahead.”
7. Bring the soft skills from your personal life into your business life
Daniel Levine is one of the world’s best-known trends experts. He believes that “in 2017, business trends and personal trends are merging in such a way that managers are distinguishing less between the two. In other words, the same traits that underpin success in our personal lives are crucial for success in the business realm.”
Among these is being mindful, which he describes as “the ability to step outside oneself, look at the big picture, and stay conscious of what you are doing and why.” The message here is that mindfulness shouldn’t just happen on a meditation cushion or in yoga class, but in meeting rooms and Skype calls with clients. This is key: People are all too aware of the need to be mindful, what with all the memes and mantras shared, but it’s applying this knowledge effectively to their work life that they miss.
Levine also cites expressing gratitude as still being a biggie in 2017. “There is a growing consciousness that focusing on the positive and expressing gratitude is an integral part of being happy.”
In your journey to success, gratitude helps you become more resilient— and when you’re more resilient, things like hurdles and haters are less likely to trip you up. If you maintain a dedication to excellence, take it from the experts: these six habits will widen your lead in 2017.