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10 Ways How Successful Leaders Think

how successful leaders think

If you want to be a leader, you will have to think like a leader. The easiest way for us to mimic and replicate the success of all the great people out there is by learning and adopting their thinking.

When we think like they do, we would be able to do things like they do, and thus, produce the results like them. Of course, you don’t really have to copy exactly the same, you are not Bill Gates and highly likely it is impossible for you to start another Microsoft.

All you need to learn is how they think and adopt what is useful to you. You may never want to operate a software company, but you can always learn their mindset and understand the principle behind how they run their business.

Most people are not successful because they are not thinking like successful people. What we think we become. So start to think differently from now on if you seriously want to produce outstanding success in your life.

In this article, I have chosen 10 successful leaders which I think most people know about them and love to create the amazing result like they do in life.

Remember, you don’t have to copy them, you just need to learn how they think and adopt what is right for you.

And here are the 10 ways how successful leaders think…

1. Steve Jobs – Find The Passion In Your Work

Steve Jobs is definitely one of the most successful businessman in the world in creating Apple and building up Pixar. There are so many principles about life that I would love to share with you about Jobs. And I strongly encourage you to watch and listen carefully to this video, where Jobs gave a speech in Stanford back in 2005…

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Steve Jobs was someone who truly motivated by his work. He believed that the only way to get satisfied and truly feel the happiness deep within is through doing great work. And in order to create great work, you need to love what you do and have a strong passion for it.

He said that creating success is so difficult that if you don’t have the passion, you will just quit and give up. Most people don’t have the strong burning passion, so whenever they face setbacks, they got frustrated and feel tired about it. Eventually they will quit.

Therefore, if you really want to build a successful business and live a great life, you must first love what you do. Inject passion into your work.

Do you know that successful people love their work so much that they treat it as play and they can’t wait to do it?

This is the kind of drive that you need to have so that you will have the energy and faith to do the extra mile, do better than ordinary people and overcome setbacks.

Success will never come easy. You need to find out what is the price and pay the price. If success is easy, everyone would be successful.

The truth is that most people are just ordinary and that is why many of them are searching for the secrets to succeed in life.

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs

2. Bill Gates – Learn From Your Mistakes and Failures

Are you ready to learn from the world’s richest man? Well, Bill Gates is the richest man in the world at this point of writing. Do you think that there is something that you can learn from him? Of course!

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”

Gates believe that success will never teach you much. The real lesson comes when you made mistakes and got failures in your life. And he is truly someone who learned a lot of his past mistakes and failures.

Most people never learn from their mistakes and failures. There are 3 groups of people how they respond to failures.

The first group will do nothing and quit. When they face with failure, they will chicken out and feel that things are tough. They give up and they quit.

The second group of people are those who receive the failure but never do anything about it and thought that they are not working hard enough. They put in even more effort into taking action and hope for a different result, which usually never happen.

If you took a lot of action and fail to achieve the result you want, you might want to look at your strategies and improve on them.

This is the third group of people who they will react to failure. They look at failure as feedback. When they did not receive the results that they want, they will review their strategies and check out what went wrong. They improve their strategies and they keep on learning.

This is why successful people are able to produce more and better results than normal people. In fact, the more failure you receive in life, the more likely you are going to be successful. Look at Thomas Edison, he tried more than 10,000 ways before he finally found the right way to invent the light bulb.

In other word, it is saying that Thomas Edison failed at least 10,000 times. Like what Michael Jordan has to say, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

bill gates quotes

3. Warren Buffett – Learn To Take Calculated Risk

Again, this is the second richest man in the world. We’re learning from 2 of the richest man in the world, don’t you think this is great? 🙂

“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”

Warren Buffett is the successful investor that tons of people wanted to learn from. He is well-known for his business and investment mindset.

He started out his investment as early as at age of 11. Can you imagine that? Investing in stocks at the age of 11.

What were you doing when you are at 11? Playing games? Well, we can’t change the past, so let’s just focus in the future and do what we can now.

Regardless of whether you are running your own business or are trying to do investment, risk involved. And you need to make the decision to handle risk. Most people think that risk only appear in business and investment. Wrong.

In fact, risk is everywhere. When you drive on the road you risk your life of an accident. When you walk on the street you have a risk of getting a car running into you. When you work for a fixed salary you have the risk of getting fired. Even when you eat you have the risk of eating poisonous food that make you sick.

However, because the probability of these risks are very much lower, we don’t think and care about them at all. What about in business and investing? Is the risk high?

Well, this is a very subjective question. It all depends on who you are. Whether you have the knowledge and the skills in it.

Let me give you an example. If you have no experience in mountaineering, and you decided to climb Mount Everest without preparation, do you think the risk is high? Yes.

Now, if you are a season mountain climber and you have done countless of mountain climbing expedition before, do you think that the risk is lower? Of course!

What if I tell you that you are fully prepared, physically and mentally trained for the trip, do you have more confident and lesser risk? Yes.

Therefore, risk is contextual. If you have no business knowledge and no skills in running a business, you will face higher risk.

Same goes for everything you do in life. If you want to build be professional tennis player, you will have to reduce the risk of losing by practicing and training.

Successful people like Warren Buffett will only take calculated risk. They learn the skills and the acquire as much knowledge as possible before they make the decision to go into it. You have to be the same.

Everyone can be successful and create outstanding results in their life. As long as they learn, they master the game, improve their knowledge and skills and keep taking action toward what they desire.

warren buffett quotes

4. Walt Disney – If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It

Walt Disney is truly an amazing successful leader that we all look up on. His creation of cartoon animation such as Mickey Mouse, Bambi, Pinnochio, etc, changed the entire entertainment industry. Since then, it has never been the same again.

When Walt Disney was young, he loved to draw and has intense passion for arts and cartoon. And you imagine that from a cartoonist, he created his own envisioned theme park. It is mesmerizing to think about what human can possibly achieve, only if they dared to dream.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Like most successful people out there, Disney started with visions and dreams. Do you know that after the death of Walt Disney, Epcot theme park in Walt Disney World opened and a reporter told Walt’s wife, “Too bad that Walt Disney wasn’t there to see how everything had turned out.”

Did you know how Lilian Disney (Walt’s wife) replied? She looked at the reporter and said, “Oh, he saw it, and long before we ever did.” It is because Walt Disney has vision and dreamed about it, that it finally became a reality even after his death.

This is how being visionary should be. We may not have the power to predict the future, but we do have the power to imagine our dream and dream our dream.

We can dream about what we wanted to accomplish in our life and hold that vision strong in ourselves.

You have to have a vision or a dream before you can start your journey to achieve it. Visualization is a very powerful tool that almost every successful leader make use of it. One of the world’s top golfer, Jack Nicklaus, said that he always play and practice golf in his mind.

Here’s what Jack Nicklaus told us about his imagination in his own words:

“I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of it in my head. First I see the ball where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting up high on the bright green grass.”

“Then the scene quickly changes, and I see the ball going there; its path, trajectory, and shape, even its behavior on landing. Then there is a sort of fade-out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality.”

Visualization is important. It is secret training weapon that had helped the Russian to win so many Olympic gold medals in the past. We all know that everything starts from our mind, if we can dream it, we can do it.

walt disney quote

5. Larry Page – It’s More Than Just Money

Like most other successful people, Larry Page did not started Google for money. He and the team have a bigger vision and purpose than making money. This is what he said:

If we were motivated by money, we would have sold the company a long time ago and ended up on a beach.”

You see, most of the successful people you know about like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Walt Disney never really started their business to make money.

Yes it is true that money is important, but their main purpose is not the money.

Page said it himself, “If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning.”

Most of the business leaders out there started out with a strong passion and wanted to solve a problem. And eventually the event led them to start a company and make a lot of money from their work.

If you started a company because of money, once you have made some money, you will lose the motivation to go for more. You will lose yourself in your comfort zone and never wanted to grow.

Since you have already made the money, why would you want to change and improve, right?

This is why those who started their business for the sole reason of making money usually did only manage to grow their business to a certain level.

When they hit an income level that they are happy with, they stop to grow and this is where they started to fall.

Just like what Larry Page said, if money is the main motivation, he is already a billionaire, why would he still choose to work, to innovate and to create more revolutionary products and to keep on improving Google?

It is more than money. It is the passion and the purpose that drive them. If you started out a blog, a website or a business to make money, usually you won’t succeed. This is because a business takes time to grow and usually you will lose money in the first few years.

Most people give up and quit, because they are working for the money, not the passion and not for the reason of creating value for the rest. So what is the purpose that you are working on today?

larry page

6. Mark Zuckerberg – Do What Matters Most To You

The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, had became one of the youngest billionaires in the world when Facebook filed for IPO back in 2012. Mark believes that in order to succeed, you need to do what matters most to you.

He once said that, “A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” He did not started Facebook as a company.

In fact, Mark said that the reason he started Facebook was because he wanted to create something that can connect most people and so that those people could share more openly with their own community.

And Facebook has since then grew into the largest social network in the world. Today, billions of people are on Facebook. Here’s what we would like to talk about from Mark Zuckerberg…

“The question I ask myself like almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?'”

Identify what is important to you and do that. Most people never do. They do things that are urgent, but not important. Things that are important usually has less effect in the short-term, but over the long-term, it will change your life.

Unfortunately, most people focus in doing things that are urgent, which has less effect on the long-term. You have to understand that going to the gym once will has not much effect on your weight and your body.

However, if you could do that every single day for a year, you will end up having a slim (or macho for guys) and healthy body.

This is why you need to do exactly what Mark has done. Ask yourself every day, “Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing today?”

If you want to build a successful business, watching movie will not help, but yet a lot of people do that. Thus, you have to understand what is important to you.

Doing something that will move to toward your goals or doing something that will just give you the instant pleasure? You got to choose.

That is why it is so crucial to review your goals every morning. You have to constantly remind yourself about what is your purpose and what you want to accomplish in your life. And take action on them.

mark zuckerberg quote

7. Jack Ma – Extreme Persistent

Jack Ma is obviously one of my favorite teacher in business and life. He founded Alibaba and became one of the richest man in China. And not only that, he used to be a teacher before he started his own business.

And today, after he had built a successful e-commerce website, he started to travel around, places like Hong Kong, Korea, Germany, etc to give speech and share his views about business and life.

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be beautiful.”

It may seem easy and things are smooth for Alibaba, but if you know the story behind, you will understand how many setbacks and obstacles Jack has overcome in his journey.

Did you know that he learned his English not from formal education in school, but rather, from strangers who wanted to take a tour in Hangzhou?

Jack would jogged in the morning and when he saw white people, he would approached them and asked them whether they could teach him English. And in return, he would take them for a tour in West Lake, Hangzhou.

In his early days when he first started, he applied for jobs in KFC. 24 of the applicants went for the post, 23 of them got the job and he was the only one that got left behind.

During the time when he founded Alibaba, most people in China don’t know what is internet, and needless to say, they don’t even know about buying and selling stuffs online.

It was a difficult and challenging journey, however, he persisted until he succeeds. When everyone rejects his idea about starting an e-commerce site in China, most people never supported him.

Even when he got to America to raise capital, most people rejected him and told him that his idea will never work.

He and his team are the only ones that believed that their idea were good.

They themselves are the ones that believed in their dreams and persisted and moved on. Eventually, Jack and his team succeeded.

In 2014, last year, Jack Ma and his Alibaba team made a record-breaking IPO in the entire US history. He became the richest man in China almost “overnight”. And his “overnight” success turns out that he has been struggling to build Alibaba from scratch, when no one believes in them, for over 15 years. Such was an “overnight” success.

No matter who you are today, you can be successful if you wanted to. First, you must believe in your dreams, because if you don’t, no one would. And next, you have to have extreme persistence in making things work.

You will face a lot of rejections, a lot of setbacks, a lot of failures, and a lot of disappointments along the journey. Like what Jack has to say, “Today is difficult, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be beautiful.”

jack ma quote

8. Phil Knight – Just Do It

You just need to do it! Nike’s world famous tagline, “Just do it.” Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, definitely is someone who we wanted to learn from about business and success.

Did you know that Nike is not really a company selling shoes? In fact, Nike is a marketing company that focuses in marketing it’s products. If you look at how Nike promote and market their products, you will understand how Nike look at marketing differently than most companies out there.

Nike took marketing into a totally different level. Here’s what Phil Knight from Nike has to say…

“Play by the rules, but be ferocious.”

If you have a product to sell today, how are you going to promote your product and convince your customers within 60 seconds? Chances are, it will be very difficult to convince your customers about how good your product is going to be within such a short time frame.

What would Nike do? Ask Michael Jordan to market their products. Phil Knight once told the press, “You can’t explain much in 60 seconds, but when you show Michael Jordan, you don’t have to. It’s that simple.”

This is how Nike rise and grow to become one of the top brands in the world, they play by the rules, but they are ferocious! And they follow their tagline, just do it!

If you truly wanted to be successful, just do it. You will never know if your ideas will work, you have to just do it. You will never know if your business will grow, you have to just do it. You will never know until you do it. So just do it and you will get the answer.

There’s no use to have a thousand ideas in your head. You need to take action and actually do something to make your dreams come true. Don’t just talk about becoming rich and successful, let your action do the talking.

Far too many people don’t work on their dreams and their goals. Two people can attend the same workshop to lose weight, but not both are going to get the result of a slim body.

The reason is because whatever you have learned will just be a potential power within you. If you did not apply what your knowledge, you will never change a thing.

Things will only started to change and moved when you took action and do something about them. So stop being a dreamer, take the necessary action today and make your dreams a reality. Just do it!

phil knight quote

9. Richard Branson – You Have To Have Fun

Richard Branson probably is the businessman who portrait that business can be fun. If you read his autobiography, Losing My Virginity, you will see how much fun he had. Branson just don’t care. He believed in this…

“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.”

And far too many people think that business must be serious. Living a successful life must be serious. Often, it is not. It is the time when you enjoy and have fun, you will do a great work. Just like what Steve Jobs has to say, passion is crucial in building a successful business and life.

Sir Richard Branson has tried all sort of crazy things in business. He drove a tank in Fifth Avenue in New York when launching Virgin Cola. He jumped off the roof of Palms Hotel and Casino to celebrate the first Virgin America flight to Las Vegas. He dressed as air stewardess after losing bet for his Formula One racing team to AirAsia owner, Tony Fernandes.

See how much joy and fun he had in business and life? You have to do the same. Yes, have fun in life and enjoy every moment running your business.

Even when I’m writing this, I’m can imagine how much fun Sir Branson had. 🙂

You don’t have to be too rigid in everything. Sometimes having fun can spur your creativity and make you free from stress. Building a multi-million dollar business is heavy, so why not have some fun?

Well, here is something that I recommend you to read about how Richard Branson look at marketing his business. I wrote this post some time ago and I think it is a very powerful strategy to mix fun and marketing together, How Richard Branson Do His Marketing In Business.

richard branson quote

10. Howard Schultz – Starbucks Is More Than Just Coffee

Howard Schultz, the American businessman who changed the way we drink coffee, has revolutionized the food industry. Here’s what the CEO and the chairman of Starbucks has to share with us…

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”

McDonald’s did sell coffees, and we can even make our own coffees at home. However, Starbucks has something more to offer.

It is a place like none other that provides a great environment and status. To me, Starbucks is more than just coffee. It is brand, it is a status and it provide a great environment for coffees.

Howard Schultz believed that in order to succeed, you need to be surround yourself with the right environment. The most important is the people who you mixed with. Successful people will only mixed with other successful people.

This is simply because they know that if they mixed with negative people, the negative thoughts will drag them down. So who are you mixed with most of the time?

Let me ask you, if you go to country clubs, look at those rich and successful people, what do they talk about most of the time? They talk about business, stocks, politics, economy etc.

They would talk about who invested how much and profited from the stock market, which business is worth to do, how’s the economy doing, etc.

Now, if you mixed with ordinary people, what do they talk about? Most of the time, they would talk about where to eat, who got married, who got divorce, how their boss treated them, which is the latest and best place to hang out, which movie to watch, etc.

Different groups of people would talk about different topics, because both are with different mindset. This is why it is so important to mixed around with positive and other successful people.

Can you imagine that if Michael Jordan was to mixed with other normal players whom are just playing basketball for fun, would Michael Jordan improves his skills? Not a chance.

Successful athletes who wanted to go for the Olympic level will never mixed with those who don’t even have dream to become a professional players. They simply cannot blend in and can’t be mixed.

I’m not saying that you should abandon all your friends who are not on par with you or who are not successful. You have to understand that you have to keep improving and keep learning in order to move forward. Mixing with the right people will help.

Of course, you can choose who to mix and network with. This is your life and it is your choice. Birds of the same feather will always fly together. If you mix around with winners, you will eventually become a winner. As simple as that.

howard schultz quotes

The Conclusion

These are the 10 ways how successful leaders think. If you want to be a successful leader, think like one. Starting from now on.

Being successful and creating outstanding success is simple, but it may not be easy. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of pain, you have to overcome a lot of setbacks, need a lot of drive and take a lot of action in order to produce the outstanding results that you desire.

Start by adopting these 10 ways how these great business leaders think. And soon enough, you will act like them and are able to produce the same amazing result like they did.

Let me know what you think about this post. Share your thoughts with me in the comment section below.

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About Shawn Lim

I'm a blogger, writer, and also an internet entrepreneur. If you want to learn more about me, kindly go to the About page. By the way, have you downloaded your FREE copy of Active Goal Setting? Don't forget to do so. :)

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