By: Michael Korda

Six Simple Steps to Success

These basic but highly effective techniques— known to successful people everywhere––can Help you organize your days and get things done.
(Condensed from book)

Step One: Cultivate Energy

The first rule of success is to have energy.

It is important to know how to concentrate it, how to husband it, how to focus it.

But first you have to have it—and a surprising number of people don’t.

Energy is an active, positive quality, a desire to get things done and done correctly, to move from one point to another, to rise to a specific goal, to advance to a new position, to accomplish a given job. Some people are born with it; but they put their hearts and souls into everything they do, and they invariably succeed. Others work hard enough when they want to or have to, but it’s uphill all the way.

Perhaps the best way to develop energy is this:

  • Split your day into the smallest possible segments of time.
  • Treat each segment as independent and worthwhile in itself.
Once you have broken your work down into components, you can launch yourself into one thing, get it done, then go on to the next task. This will give you a change of pace and a renewed sense of accomplishment.

For years I began workdays in a state of anxiety and rage.

The desk was already a sea of messages and mail when I arrived.

Phones were ringing, and people were lined up to see me. By 11 a.m. I was frazzled and over-wrought, resentful that I had worked two hours without having completed one single tash.

Finally, I decided it was important to begin the day by accomplishing something, however trivial it might be. I decided to spend the first hour answering mail.

I would take no telephone calls. see no one I treated the mail as a separate block of work, important but finite. When I had read it, answered it, taken the necessary action where action was called for and got rid of it all, I had a cup of coffee—my “reward”for a task completed—and took a walk around the office.

It wasn’t long before I began to look forward to my first hour; it gave me a sense of achievement and purpose. I could apply my energy to a limited task, instead of letting it dissipate early in the day by not being focused on anything.

Step Two: Control Laziness

Too many of us fail because we delay tackling the difficult jobs that would win us recognition. We are held back by simple laziness, which produces a kind of permanent inertia if allowed to fester. The trick is to use it, to transform a negative quality into a positive reinforcement.

Say you have a big project, one that will take several hours .Tell yourself that when it’s done you can be lazy again, that the only thing preventing you from enjoying your laziness is the project. Then attack it as if it were the enemy, get it out of the way, and give yourself a spell of earned laziness.

Once you have developed a capacity for turning yourself on and utilizing your full energy briefly, you can go on to use it for longer periods. The trick is to put yourself in touch with it in the first place. Once it’s been tapped, you soon discover it is an inexhaustible resource.

And remember: When you set out to do something, complete it!

Energy thrives on achievement and declines as things drag on. If you start your morning indecisively, or with a failure, you are likely to continue the day on the same note, with a consequent ebb in energy.

Step Three: Be Natural

Many people spend their days locked in mortal combat with their natural habits and behavior patterns. Nothing could be more counter-productive. If you’re not a morning person, don’t overload yourself with major tasks in the early part of the day. But if you like to go to bed early and rise early, put your hardest tasks first.

If you thrive on routine, devise one you can live with and enjoy. But be sure it is variable enough to give you an occasional change of pace. Naturally, you will have to make compromises from time to time. But keep in mind that the more energy you spend fighting your inclinations, the less you will have to put to work for you.

Step Four: Boycott Boredom

Boredom saps one’s energy like nothing else.

If you’re falling into patterns of boredom that reduce your energy, try the following:

  • Bet yourself that you can get done what you have to get done before the end of the day, and reward yourself when you do.
  • Give yourself one major goal a day. Then achieve it, whatever else you may have to drop.
  • Make one day a week a “catch-up” day, so on other days you can afford to put most small irritating things aside.
  • Give yourself a time limit for each task. Most people concentrate best with a deadline in front of them.
  • Don’t regard each day as an extension of the preceding one, so that what doesn’t get done can be put off until tomorrow

Successful people plan their lives for successful days, of specific accomplishment, and this urgency leads naturally to an intensified power of concentration. So learn to think of the day as a vital, independent unit of time, and judge your performance by what you have done today----not yesterday, not tomorrow.

Step Five: Motivate Memory

If you want to succeed you can’t afford to forget things. Yet it is a waste of memory ability to remember what you could just as easily write down. So become a list maker. Many successful people are compulsive about written lists.

Another trick to help you remember things is to care about them. If successful people have phenomenal memories, it’s because they are totally wrapped up in what they are doing. It’s no problem for them to remember facts, figures, and names related to their primary interests. But since it’s not essential to remember everything, your first task must be to find out what is important to you, and decide on your priorities.

Step Six: Dream Dreams

We are told it is a mistake to dwell on the past.

But, in fact, successful people are usually those who have thought about their mistakes and learned from them. When something goes, face up to the consequences, do what you can to put things right, then think about how it happened—and how it might be prevented in the future.

Many successful people also acknowledge that they daydream frequently, and that these daydreams inspire them towards a given goal. So allow yourself time for this purpose. Cultivate your daydreams, enjoy them, make them constructive by linking them to your goals. The more you dream of doing, the more you can do.

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