3 Unconventional Ways to Success

The bottom line is simple. The road to success is seldom conventional, without inconsistency or moments of "un-success." Here, then, are three unconventional ways, ironically, to success.
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This young businessman is using his competitive skills to race to the front of the pack. Winning.
This young businessman is using his competitive skills to race to the front of the pack. Winning.

Success can be elusive. So can people who succeed. It is easy to assume successful folks have always been accomplished or successful. They often have an allure, and it sometimes seems as though they walk on water or that gold dust sparkles around them as string music plays in the background. They can seem mystical, infallible, or above failure. The fact is that this is an illusion.

What seldom goes noted is that most successful people have not gained success with ease, facility, or "unsuccessful" moments. Take for instance Michael Jordan, one of the all-time greatest NBA players who, while a college athlete, was not even a starter initially. Yet, he not only went on to set incomparable records but, even years after his retirement, he still dominates. His uber-successful Air Jordan shoe line is a reflection of his athletic skill, basketball and business giftedness, and mega-success--not to mention he's the first NBA billionaire. Likewise, Steve Jobs, now a household name (and his landmark products), rose to even greater prominence after being forced from the very company he co-founded. But, did that stop him? An empathetic "no." Instead, Jobs came back with a technological vengeance and masterminded technologies--the iMac, iTunes, iPod and iPad, among other digital and revolutionary innovations--that populate our homes and forever changed our world.

The bottom line is simple. The road to success is seldom conventional, without inconsistency or moments of "un-success." Here, then, are three unconventional ways, ironically, to success.

1. Failure

We live in a society that not only elevates winning, but suggests it is the only option: that to lose is to fail. In this scheme, we overlook and misconstrue failure and the very nature (and power) of it. Failure is not a permanent condition but a momentary circumstance. It serves as groundwork and rehearsal, active practice, for success. Ironically, failure can be positive. It is instructive. It teaches us what does not work and, in turn, we learn from it--fine-tune and recalibrate--in ways that lead and redirect us to our goals. Plus, it allows us to exercise how to maneuver and better navigate our way to success because failure conditions us--building our stamina and thresholds--so that when we do succeed, we can also deal with the trials and tribulations that inevitably accompany success. In short, failure enables and teaches us to also appreciate when things work out and we succeed, while simultaneously motivating us to strive for and maintain success.

2. Sleep

That's right. Sleep can be a significant criterion for success. But, let's be clear: inordinate amounts of sleep without hard work will get you absolutely nowhere. If and when exercised right, sleep can be important to success in that it achieves several things. Sleep helps recharge the body, stimulate and "reboot" the mind. In fact, while I was writing my first book, I deliberately took a power nap around lunchtime when we usually experience a natural lull. Sleep strategically offered my tired, overworked brain reprieve, downtime, and rejuvenation, after which I would rise refreshed with drive and a clear-cut sense of what I needed to write and how to accomplish it.

Sleep can also reinvigorate and enable you to produce faster and more effectively. Think about it. Most of us have had those moments when we needed to produce work, only to find ourselves staring at a blank screen for hours or contemplating how to get it done. Mental fatigue and distraction get you nowhere. In fact, you end up wasting even more time (than the duration of a short nap). This can exacerbate or make the situation worse because your lack of productivity could, then, discourage and make you feel guilty or like a loser for not getting the job done. The right dose of sleep can save us time and angst by creating structure and efficiency, stimulating productivity, and allowing us to -- in essence -- "work smarter, not harder." After all, who can afford wasted time?

3. Celebration

"Rome wasn't built overnight," as the saying goes. Neither is success. It is not immediate. And, the wait and grind can be a real challenge. There are several moments of delayed gratification, which is natural since the nature of success is that it takes time to develop and fully manifest. It is crucial, then, during the process to acknowledge and celebrate individual achievements--the small steps, milestones, and breakthroughs--that, combined, lead to your overall success.

Celebrating is vital, too, because it keeps us motivated. It reminds us of and reaffirms our goals. It allows us to champion ourselves (when others may not always see the potential or share our vision). Plus, celebrating can be soothing, even cathartic, providing us renewed energy, determination, and focus that also allow us to assess, acknowledge, and enjoy our hard work and payoffs.

What are your strategies for success? Have they been working? How can you create an unconventional path to success?