Four ways to raise your performance, productivity and success levels

I published a guest article on today called “3 Traits of the Super Successful.” It’s by Sandra Martini.

Even though her title suggests that she is telling us about three traits: having passion for your work, avoiding perfectionism in favor of good quality, and having a sense of urgency that keeps you moving and producing — she really talks about four traits.

In her introduction to the three traits she focuses on, she talks about the value of having a “happy” mindset. The way she maintains such a mind set is by relentlessly exercising her choice of what people and experiences she will allow into her life. She does all she can to root out the negative factors.

She concentrates on positive, self-empowering information, action and experience. She controls her environment in such a way that she is set for feeling good, maintaining excellent productivity and achieving high level performance. How can she not be successful?

See if you agree that her introductory matter about mindset is as important as the three other traits she outlines. Read the article.

“Good Old Books” download: “The Optimistic Life” and “Every Man a King”

The New Thought Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries had a great impact on self-help and personal achievement writers and speakers throughout the 20th century. If you study New Age writers, you’ll find its influence there. Furthermore, if you pay attention, you’ll find plenty of early 21st century writers on success and achievement espousing New Thought ideas.

Start with nothing and pull yourself up by your bootstraps? New Thought. Positive attitude wins the day? New Thought. Change your life with affirmations? New Thought. Find your passion to find your best work? New Thought. Reiterations of “sound mind in a sound body?” New Thought. Why not? These are also much older ideas and ideals. New Thought added new spiritual twists on them. But that was the culture of the day.

So, if you read the original New Thought writers, you might think them a little preachy. You might think them a little naïve. Yet, you’ll find the roots of much of our current self-help and entrepreneurial success literature in them.

I’ve been reading some of New Thought writer Orison Swett Marden, in search of a good “old book download” for you. He was the founder of the publication “Success Magazine,” and seemed to be a logical choice.

While I find a lot of his writing too much like following the mind of someone with ADHD, I have found a couple of his books that I think most people can benefit from.

“The Optimistic Life, Or in the Cheering Up Business” is a bit on the Pollyanna-ish side, but is a good demonstration of early works in positive thinking and in the idea of “laughter as the best medicine.” Not to mention that it does have many ideas that have been validated by later science. Even if it does have comments that are a bit too “cute.” I think you’ll find it a lot more cheerful that watching the current news on TV.

“Every Man a King; or, Might in Mind-Mastery,” is one of Marden’s more straight-forward and practical behavior-oriented books. The advance of science since his time has shown that what he wrote is considerably more complicated than his simple descriptions. Nevertheless, a great deal of his thinking can still be found in current self-help, success and personal achievement literature.

As you read, remember that he was a self-made success who worked his way through Harvard(!) to earn an M.D. degree as well as a degree in law. He also studied public speaking and theology. You can see the influences of his studies in his various writings.

If you want more books by Marden, go search on

10 Timeless Ideas About Success

If you look back and see what good thinkers have had to say over past years, you’ll find that most of the ideas on what makes success are timeless. Even Aristotle held forth on success: “All men seek one goal : success or happiness. The only way to achieve true success is to express yourself completely in service to society. First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal — a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”

Here are some more thoughts, albeit a bit more recent than Aristotle.

1. “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.” (David Brinkley)

One of the first lessons successful people learn is that they have to constantly overcome the psychological obstacles of doubters, naysayers, critics and nasty competitors. All while they are working hard at what they’re really trying to accomplish.

2. “Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.” (Dale Carnegie)

I love Dale Carnegie quotes. They don’t usually require an explanation.

3. “I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.” (Jonathan Winters)

Success requires patience. It isn’t instant. It’s a continual process. And sometimes it’s a cumulative process. You can’t wait for the final success of each of your projects before starting the next. If you did, just think how long it would take to know your success if you planted a peach tree and waited for the fruit before planting the next.

4. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.” (W. C. Fields)

Fields may have been making a funny crack, but he was right. You need to know when persistence becomes perseveration. Develop a sense of what’s probable and improbable. Or, to quote Kenny Rogers, “know when to hold ’em; know when to fold ’em.”

5. “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” (Bill Cosby)

Whether you’re employed or in your own business, you can’t be all things to all people. Working at something is a necessity, but over-working and trying too hard will just wear you down. And trying to achieve other people’s values instead of your own is guaranteed to depress you and disappoint them.

6. “Formula for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil.” (J. Paul Getty)

Realize that no matter how hard you work, how smart you are or how many opportunities you have, you can’t beat just plain luck.

7. “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” (Albert Einstein)

Who do you think is going to be remembered best by family, friends and, later, history: the guy who spent all his time trying to get rich and richer, or the guy who discovered how to make people’s lives better.

8. “Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” ( Mark Victor Hansen)

Now, that’s a longer explanation of Nike’s slogan: Just Do It.

9. “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Stop once in a while and examine if what you are doing is worthwhile. What value are you accomplishing? You only get one life. Are you defining success as how much you have in material things? Or in what you can point to in pride as having contributed to a better life for those you love. What are your most cherished values anyway?

10. “You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” (Albert Einstein)

Yes, I know I gave you two quotes from Einstein. But after all, sometimes I think his ideas are worth twice as much as most other top thinkers. In this quote, he reminds us that you have to know what you’re doing in depth. Then you have to work and practice hard enough to outdo the competition. It may be true, as other’s have said, that having passion for your endeavors makes them easier and more likely to be successful. Nevertheless, you’d better have a good underlying structure of knowledge and action.