Conditioning Yourself To Succeed

'Conditioning Yourself To Succeed' by Richard Shrapnel

Success is not something that just happens overnight. It requires focus, hard work and perseverance. And to succeed on an enduring basis requires a lot more than just that, it requires personal conditioning and the building of your Achiever Trait.


Does Success Only Come To A Few?

We all understand elite athletes, even those who we would consider naturally gifted, train long and hard to succeed. It takes early mornings every day and years of rigorous disciplined training to reach the pinnacles of success.

There are many who will try. There are some who will be recognised as ‘good’ and a few who will be seen as ‘the best’ in their field.  And then, there will be the outstanding exceptions, those athletes who we consider the ‘greats’ of their sports. These are the athletes that set the records that others chase, but they do it not just once but again and again and again. And they do it over succeeding years. Their lives seem to be ones of outstanding achievements, setting new records and taking themselves to new heights time and time again.

These great athletes have not just had a moment of success but they have achieved it continually over many years. They have been able to condition their lives so that they achieve enduring success.

We admire these great athletes for their achievements, but we do not expect or apply these same standards to ourselves as business leaders, nor our achievements. But we can and we should.

As business leaders, enduring success is within our grasp if we just discipline ourselves to continuously grow those personal traits that seed success. And this opportunity is available to all of us, not just a select few.


Entrepreneurship & Business Leadership Is A ‘Living Hell’

Hampus Jakobsson in his recent article, ‘The Hells of Being a Founder’, published on Medium, describes the life of a founder as horrible. ‘We are supposed to be visionaries and rebels, while being pragmatic and concrete, while being good leaders. Those features don’t fit one body, who isn’t about to explode.’

Hampus goes on to say that being a founder can be the ‘trip of a lifetime’ but you need to know how to grow up quickly and ease into the inevitable blows. He provides six tips to surviving this trip:

  1. Don’t fool yourself. Set your ambitions clearly for what you, as an individual, want to achieve.
  2. Do one thing well. Do not panic, lose focus or the sense of urgency to deliver on that one direction.
  3. Build your team. Push your ego to the side and recognise that everyone has to be heard to perform.
  4. Make and treat your investors as your colleagues, ensuring that they help out.
  5. The company and you are not one in the same person. Grit and fight but it is not life and death; if the start-up fails, you move on.
  6. Creating something new is hard. Dare greatly and never criticise those who try.

Many an athlete would probably also describe their training regiments as a ‘living hell’ but they still get up each morning because their commitment to succeed overcomes the pains and disappointments of training and competing. The life of an entrepreneur or business leader can be very similar.


I Have The Faith!

Success doesn’t come overnight and certainly enduring success requires a lifetime’s work. You don’t keep fit and healthy by having exercised once, and you don’t create a life of enduring success by having achieved one thing once.

You could say that success requires endurance – but I think it goes much deeper than a sense of endurance. Lasting the distance in achieving anything requires a passion for the outcome sought and a faith in oneself.

Gerard Adams in an article on titled, ‘How To Stay Focused When You Feel Like Giving Up’, notes that the one true obstacle that all entrepreneurs face is overcoming fear and keeping the faith. And he believes it starts with our thoughts: ‘The key is not letting your thoughts get in the way of where you want to go. The key is staying so motivated that nothing can sway you – including the prospect of failure.’

He continues, ‘We’ll all face down failure at one point or another. We might also face down exhaustion, confusion, curve balls, and many moments where stopping seems tempting. However, if there is one muscle that is absolutely imperative to strength, no matter who you are or what you’re doing, it’s your faith in yourself.’

Gerry provides four suggestions as to how you can reconnect yourself with what is really important to you:

  1. Recognise how far you have come and give yourself credit for your achievements.
  2. Be grateful and appreciate everything you have, rather than just complaining.
  3. Take breaks regularly with a change of scenery and give yourself some R&R.
  4. Guard your thoughts, as thoughts become reality and what you think is what you will experience.
  5. Keep moving forward, small steps, toward what you really want.

Creating a life of enduring success is all about you, and who you are and what you want. You must build the ‘you’ that is capable of delivering day after day, and have faith in yourself. That requires that you build things in the right order and have the right focus.


The Cart Before The Horse

‘There’s a prevalent attitude among entrepreneurs that the business, whatever that business is, comes first. It is the high priority that trumps everything else, including family, friends and especially health.’ This is the opening line in an article, ‘Why Exercising Is a Higher Priority Than My Career’, by Joshua Steimle, published in Time Business.

Joshua’s article is focused on the importance of health first in leading a business but the points he makes in supporting this argument have a wider relevance. He notes, entrepreneurs often sacrifice their entire lives in the pursuit of their businesses, not for profit but because they are building something great. And that provides them with excuses to push other things to the side. But he believes they are wrong in making the business their no. 1 priority.

His point is not to put the cart before the horse. If you allow your health to fail then you will be unable to run your business to deliver maximum performance and your goal will be undermined.

I would express the argument that the success of the business is the outcome you are seeking and there are many things that need to be put in place to allow this outcome to be achieved.

In chasing the outcome you must ensure that you focus on the catalysts and enablers that allow you to deliver that outcome best. If you are obsessed with the outcome, it is unlikely you will achieve it.

Lanny Bassham makes his living coaching Olympians, elite athletes and business leaders on mental management, that is, getting your head in the right place to win. A key message that Lanny delivers is that winning is not about focusing on the win, but rather on what it takes to win. At these elite levels, skills are a given but what cannot be taken for granted is the individual’s ability to keep the right focus; the mental discipline to stay focused on what it takes to win rather than the prize.

Winning is about disciplined focus, a continual practice and reinforcement of all the things that will allow you to win. It’s about building capability, and then being able to deliver that capability. A win or a loss will be the outcome that you cannot completely control but what will be certain is that you performed at your very best.

In building a life of enduring success, first, build the capability to be successful and then success will flow.


The Achiever Trait

The starting point to achieving success in your business and your life is to recognise and then build those personal traits that will allow you to be more successful. You don’t just become successful, you must condition yourself so you can be successful.

If you want to be healthy, then do the right exercises, eat well, rest well, manage your emotions, keep your head right and have good relationships. These are things that we all know and struggle to do consistently. What many of us don’t recognise is that to be successful on a continuing basis there is also a set of exercises, regiments, practices, habits (call them what you wish) that will significantly support our capability to be successful.

I explore this in my guide, ‘Achieve – Creating A Life Of Enduring Success’, an extract of which is included below.

'The Achiever Trait' by Richard Shrapnel
‘The Achiever Trait’ by Richard Shrapnel


‘I believe there is a series of traits that allow a person to be ‘naturally’ far more successful than those who do not possess these traits. If you are aware and looking for them, you can readily recognise the traits, but, more importantly, you can develop these traits within yourself. In combination, I call them the Achiever Trait, and some would say they represent the secret formula to success.

The Achiever Trait describes the combination of characteristics that collectively represent the engine that underpins and drives the ability of any individual to be successful. Build the engine, strengthen its components and keep them well tuned and success will be your daily reward. And a life of enduring success will become effortless.

The Achiever Trait consists of the core, the triad and the cloud.’



In summary, the elements that make up the Achiever Trait are:

  • Humility. The core of enduring success. It is a virtuous strength that allows you to place someone else before you, to uplift and invest in them. Humility allows you to learn, to not take yourself too seriously, to seek continual improvement and to work with the best, at their best.
  • Gratitude. An ‘attitude of gratitude’, which allows you to commence every day seeing the opportunities and possibilities. To be a giver and to engender a positive view of life to all around you.
  • Body. Your physical, mental and emotional health are vital for your enduring success. Clarity of mind and focus cannot come if your ‘health’ is not always a priority and being improved.
  • Beliefs. What you believe of yourself, both consciously and sub-consciously, will determine how you view the world around you, and how you respond to events and opportunities.
  • Words. The power of words, spoken and thought, should never be underestimated. Words create reality and what you think of yourself and say about others has a profound effect.
  • The Cloud. This represents your dreams, passions, imagination and the freedom you allow yourself to play with what is possible. It’s really the ‘juice’ that allows it all to come to life.

A discipline of building the muscle of these traits is a continuing work. As the muscle becomes strong, so will your ability to be successful in what you chose. Achievement and success will become a recognised trait of who you are as a person.

A quote that captures this well is that of philosopher José Ortegay Gasset: ‘Among his various possible beings each man always finds one which is his genuine and authentic being. The voice which calls him to that authentic being of what we call ‘vocation’. But the majority of men devote themselves to silencing that voice of the vocation and refusing to hear it. They manage to make a noise within themselves… to distract their own attention in order not to hear it; and they defraud themselves by substituting for their genuine selves a false course of life.’

Success starts with you being willing to make the commitment to being successful, to not accept anything less, and to invest yourself in growing your personal capability.



Active Knowledge Questions:

  • Do you want to be more successful in your life?
  • Are you really serious or just making noises instead of taking action?
  • If you are serious, then have you invested in building your success muscles?
  • Are you committed to building your Achiever Trait?



Act Now:

Not sure how to become an Achiever, someone who has a life of enduring success? Then read Achieve – Creating A Life of Enduring Success.

Need to lift the leadership performance in your business? Learn how in C88 – Leadership Performance Guide and Journal.

Want to become part of the Entrepreneurs+ community? Sign up for my eNewsletter, and join the conversation by sending me a question via Ask Richard.


All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel