When I talk to people about success and what it takes to be successful, I use the analogy of a set of scales, on the one hand there is money, rewards, happiness, or whatever you define as ‘success’. On the other, a secret ingredient that you need to put in to be successful. When asked, most people would say that this is hard work, this doesn’t work though. I can think of lots of people who work hard, but are not successful. What about being well qualified? Likewise, I can think of many people who have university degrees who would not class themselves as having achieved success.

So, what could this ‘secret ingredient’ be? I have thought about this for many years, and I call it ‘value to others’ or in simple terms ‘doing things for other people’. Imagine you have a person in your life who is the most important in the world person to you. What could you do for them that they would value greatly? Do you do this for them every day? If not, why not? If you’re honest it’s usually because they don’t do it for you. But with this attitude, you’re missing the point, I’ve found that the more I do for others, the higher my self-worth. And the higher my self-worth, the better I feel about myself, the less I self-sabotage, and so the more successful I am.

Self-sabotage is like talking yourself out of success, ‘I can’t do that because of x, y. or z’ often ingrained in you from other people over many years, telling you that you can’t do something. When your self-worth increases because you have delivered value to others you avoid self-sabotage.

The key to value to others is the multiplier factor. When I put something good in, I find it comes back to me 10 times over. But the catch is, this is no road to short term gratification, because building your self-worth may take many years. Think of it like a bank account, whenever you do something good for others it adds to your balance.

Here’s a good example, take mothers, they give and give selflessly initially and eventually rewards come back to them in the form of love from their family, seeing their children grow and thrive and maybe even some grandchildren down the track.

The concept of value to others can also be applied to business, and in fact it is (the most important) one of Mindshop’s core values. When we make day-to-day decisions, we always err on the side of the customer, and the result has been a loyal client base who lives our ‘value to others’ philosophy and are active advocates of our business.

What can you do today to ensure your success in the future?

  1. Make a list of all the key people in your life – family, friends, customers and colleagues.
  2. Think about each person, and next to each name, write one thing he or she would find of value. It may be a family member for instance, and the thing you could do for him is to share more quality time.
  3. Develop a simple action plan you could do today to make it happen for three people on your list. Pick another three for tomorrow, and so on. Make this a habit. Your reward in the short term is a warm feeling for doing the right thing; in the long term, you will achieve personal and business success.

Read more in my latest book: Value to Others: 52 Insights into business and personal success.

Good luck!