It is customary as the year begins to wish everyone a “prosperous” New Year. Why so? Why is being “prosperous” more important than being just “happy”; and why will “wishing” it make it happen?
So I thought I would kick off 2013 with something more tangible: a guide to what might make genuine riches come your way this year.
My first exhortation: come alive! Most of us are not truly alive at all; we are merely sleepwalking through life. We are going through the motions, putting up appearances, parroting all the right stuff. But are we alive? No. We are in a dream. So before you do anything else, wake up and ignite yourself. Without zest, no true success can come for you. Get to the place where you’ll be awake and fully engaged.
Second: Now that you’re awake, give everything your best shot. Not your not-bad shot, or your pretty-good shot; your best shot. Don’t save your energy; expend it fully in what you’re doing. Go for it, don’t hold back. Plunge in. Half-interested is fully wasted. If you think it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing at full-tilt. Make a mistake, start over. But don’t stand dithering on the starting line.
My third entreaty: don’t be alone. Results only come through others. You need people. Even if you’re highly individualistic by nature or occupation, you will only matter through the collective. Connect and engage with the people around you. Infect them with your passion. Understand them as humans. Get them to do their best work, and your own best work will also emerge.
Fourth clarion call: focus the beam. It is very tempting to flash the torch everywhere and to start chasing after every interesting shadow out there. This is the single most effective way not to be successful. Find your spot. Find the place where you can combine great enthusiasm with genuine distinctive capability. Stay on that spot. Make your performance on that spot the best you can possibly make it. Don’t keep flashing and flitting. You can be the best at something, but only mediocre at everything.
And lastly: create value for others. The thing to remember is this: success for you is generally a direct function of value for others. Create something that gives something. Sell something worth buying. Shout a message worth following. Give unrivalled utility to your customers; incomparable careers to your employees; inimitable responsibility to your employer; secure returns to your investors. What pays off for the world, pays off for you. You don’t generate prosperity in a vacuum; you do it in an ecosystem. So extract yourself from yourself, and dedicate yourself to giving value out. Then watch it come back to you, multiplied.
These five exhortations are not a nice bit of theory; a meaningless seasonal greeting; a vibrant-but-vapid message. I live by them, and they guided the writing of this very column you are reading. So test them out for yourself. The proof will come if a pudding is created – and enjoyed by many.
A word before you go: if your ambition is merely to make money, you may ignore my five messages entirely. If personal gain is all you want, you’ve just wasted precious minutes reading this article. Become a drug dealer; a pimp; a peddler of patronage; a parasite. Those ways are way quicker, and will help you build the fat bank account you crave.
If, however, you are here to make an altogether bigger deal of your life; if you want meaning more than you want mammon; if you want to leave a mark on this planet – then please do try out my five guides to prosperity. Make a start in 2013, and create something bigger than yourself. It may become your life’s signature achievement.
Now go. The bell is ringing.