17 May 2015

Is everybody capable of achieving success? Of course they are. But how do we help people achieve great heights?  It’s a question that’s fascinated me for a long time and with the increasing number of start-ups in the UK, it’s a conundrum that affects everyone in business.

Making the move from being an employee at someone else’s company to starting up your own requires a leap of faith, and there’s no reason why your business should fail if you follow a formula. Yet so many do especially in the early years.

So why are some businesses more successful than others? I think the answer is simple: their founders just dream bigger.

Any single person can create anything. Everything in your life starts off as a solitary thought, so success is relative to your own imagination. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take over an industry or revolutionise the world, however, there seems to be a belief in many that we should dumb down our ambitions or set “modest” goals so as not to offend. This is the wrong way to approach growing your business and developing yourself and you should never feel guilty for wanting to achieve greater things.

So how do you harness the power of your mind to support you on your journey. The answer is goal setting.


Talking Success and the ‘Secret Diary of an Entrepreneur’ event last week at Hale Grill

The concept of goal-setting and its relationship to higher levels of success was illustrated in 1953 when the graduates of Yale University were asked where they’d be in twenty years’ time. It turned out that 3% of the graduates had already written down their goals and were happy to share them.

In 1973, the researchers visited with the surviving classmates to complete their research.

Whilst it’s difficult to measure people’s energy or levels or dynamism, one thing we can all measure easily is financial success. It transpired that same 3% who had written their down their goals back in 1953 were worth more financially than the other 97% put together. This research went on to form the basis of sports psychology and helped the Americans beat the rest of the world in their sporting achievements.

It’s worth mentioning that Gail and I actually set goals way beyond our own personal ambitions. We talk about other people’s goals, whether that’s our steam mates or our kids. Little people don’t stay little for long, so it’s important that we give them as much encouragement and self-belief as possible from a young age. I encourage my girls write down their goals too.


It’s up to us to instill self-belief in the younger generation

I was asked a question by a young lady at an event recently “what advice can I offer to young people who feel like their ideas are being belittled or if they are worried they’re too radical.” My answer was to give them the courage to pursue their entrepreneurial goals and that failure was a necessary part of learning.

Ideas of young people today are no more radical and no more belittled than they have always been in every generation. I would argue that we need a shift in mind-set when it comes to education so that every child from every walk of life truly believes they can achieve anything.

Tony Robbins, when he talks about goal-setting, describes how children are incredibly good at it, as they don’t limit their own imaginations. As a father of three, I’ve seen this myself. Where as an adult you might dream of having a swimming pool, a kid will say: “I want three swimming pools! I want one for you, and you, and all of my friends!”

As we grow up, we get this beaten out of us from school teachers and parents with reasoning and logic. Year after year we lower our expectations as probability and realisation set in. Just think how much lower we set our own ambitions when we are continually reminded not to expect too much, an argument backed up to prevent us getting disappointed.


It’s also worth mentioning that there’s really no age limit on success. I was in my thirties before I created the kind of business I’d always dreamed of creating, one that supports people and makes their life easier.

You could argue that people who have tried and failed at achieving something should focus their energies elsewhere, but isn’t that also a huge risk to take? When do we give up trying to teach our kids to walk? They fall down plenty of times, but we don’t just say, “Oh, they’re obviously not very good at this. Let’s move onto something else.” When you believe something is possible, you continue with it and never give up.

There’s a quote from Winston Churchill that I feel really sums this up and it reads: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” If more of us embraced this attitude and really believed in our abilities to achieve goals, no matter how big or seemingly ridiculous, can you imagine the impact it would have across the country?

It is not the things people have done that they regret most when they’re on their deathbed, but the things they haven’t. I’ve been there myself and in many ways it gives me a privileged outlook. It was a terrifying awakening, and it makes me view time in a very different way.

Up at dawn in the Maldives to set some goals

Up at dawn in the Maldives to set some goals

Ultimately, success is a formula; a balance of goals and time. How you make the most of your time, how not to waste it. Whilst everyones formula will look different, one things remains true, all success has to start somewhere. That somewhere is a dream. Imagine what life could be like if everything you tried just happened to the letter.

This is how simple success can be. That dream is one step away from becoming a reality and your job is to make it happen.  Anyone can achieve success, whether that’s creating a multi-million pound organisation or becoming the best parent or partner you can possibly be. Whatever you believe in you, you will achieve.

Goals are like maps. If you know where you are going you are much more likely to end up at the right destination.

The only thing that can ever stand between you and your goals is you!

So get dreaming and get a pen and paper out and start writing and don’t stop until you have literally emptied your mind of every possible wonderful scenario you can imagine. What are you waiting for?

Dream BIG and have fun on your journey.


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