The Five Pillars of Success

From the Book The Perfect Day Formula by Craig Ballantyne

When you study success, you will notice that successful people follow a similar pattern to achieve a goal. We’re going to analyze that pattern by looking at the five pillars of success. If one or more of these pillars is missing, it will significantly decrease your chances of success.

Start and end with your personal responsibility – recognize that you and ONLY YOU are responsible for exactly where you are in life. Train yourself to bookend your day with good habits in the morning and evening.

Having the 5 pillars in your life provides you with behaviors to “conquer the chaos” in your life. The following list is a recipe that, when executed with discipline and determination, can help drive you to the top!

  1. Planning and Preparation
    • Before you start any task, prepare everything first (tools, set up rituals, etc)
    • Everything you do sets you up for success, or creates another obstacle
    • Eliminate the temptations that stand in your way
    • Attack early in the morning (fewest external distractions) and highest willpower
    • Identify and remove temptation, especially in the morning (different for each person, ex: office drama, negative news, naps)
    • Recognize what gets between you and your goals. What can you do to eliminate the distractions?
      • Happy hours after work? Create obligations after work so you aren’t tempted to go out.
      • Not fitting in a work out? Bring your clothes with you and don’t go home until you stop by the gym.
    • Tips:
      • Don’t check your e-mail until after the first hour of your day, or longer, until your most important tasks are complete.
      • Planning on the front end, saves you time on the back end (meeting prep, meal prep, errand prep)
      • Planning sometimes requires more elimination than preparation – (not taking phone calls during designated times, social media boundaries, etc.)
  2. Professional Accountability
    • Everyone needs the power of a pro
    • We all need a coach – even the best at the pinnacle of performance in sports or the arts
    • Make sure they are experts in what you are asking them to coach you through – don’t hire a chubby trainer!
    • A professional mentor/coach/instructor teaches us what to do and holds us accountable
    • Expert feedback creates better decision-making skills and leads to better habits
    • Transformation requires habit formation
    • You show character and commitment through action
    • You can become the teacher for others in your circle of influence
    • When you instruct by example, it forces you to live by example
      • Demands that you get better at what you’re teaching
      • While we teach we learn and gain a greater understanding when we explain it to someone else.
      • Demands integrity from us that we practice what we preach – practice what you preach, and then practice preaching
      • “Can’t brighten another’s path without first brightening your own”
      • When you’re down, you become the helping hand to someone else and you feel better
  3. Social Support
    • Harness the power of other people – positive people!
    • Your positive social circle can help you win the war and even heal your scars
    • Create your circle – seek them out, build your network, develop a mastermind group
    • You are the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most
    • As you go through your day, pretend these people are counting on you and watching you – this will help take the eyes off yourself
    • How you use your time and who you spend it with are the most important
    • Remember, you can’t sore with eagles if you keep hanging around turkeys!
  4. Incentive
    • Treat yourself to big victories
    • Celebrate success, feel the full pain of failure
    • Release the power of delayed gratification – delay the good for the great
      • Example of delayed gratification: not going on a trip when you have debt, or want to hold out for a better one
    • Pay first, play second; otherwise you will play first and pay second, but you will pay with interest
    • Delayed gratification is a muscle and essential for success
  5. A Big Deadline
    • Learn to accelerate your progress by reminding yourself of the limited time you have to achieve your goals
    • Realization that we are all running out of time
    • Without big deadlines, we procrastinate. We must have deadlines – harsh, honest, and unforgiving
    • Attach this power to your daily routine – everyone is productive before vacation – most people get done in a day what they could get done in a week
    • Set limits
      • Example: Set limits on your workday – create a “cutoff time.” This challenges you to get done what you need to get done in a certain amount of time.
    • Without deadlines, tasks last longer than needed without proper planning
    • Develop an end date for each goal – a good starting point would be ideally 90 days or less
    • Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for it’s completion.”
    • Emotional deadlines: What do you want to achieve while your parents are still alive? What experiences do you want to have while you are still young?

“Every successful person, no matter whether they realize it or not, has put the 5 Pillars of Success to work for them. They Plan and Prepare properly, they have Professional Accountability and Social Support, they have chosen an Incentive to inspire them, and they have given themselves a Big Deadline.”

Craig Ballantyne, Author of The Perfect Day Formula