I moved to this great country as a 19-year-old with 92 dollars in my pocket, and now I’m a wealthy businessman. I’m the classic American rags-to-riches story. But I haven’t just acquired material wealth since I came here. I also possess a priceless internal fulfillment that no amount of money could buy.
Why have I succeeded when people who are born and raised here haven’t? I believe I have the Emigrant Edge — a special mix of seven qualities and traits that have given me a head start over native-born Americans. My promise to you is that, no matter where you’re from, you, too, can adopt these traits in your own life and attain success beyond your wildest dreams.
These traits, although generations old, are still as applicable and relevant in today’s world as they were in our forefathers’ time. They will resonate with you at a deep level, too, because somewhere in your DNA and bloodline is someone who exhibited some or all of these traits. Imitate them in your own life, and you will be equipped to thrive and succeed.
The seven traits that will help anyone to achieve the American dream are:
1. A voracious openness to learn
People who flourish enjoy new experiences. You should go out of your way to meet others, have new experiences, and learn about different aspects of life. You must have a constant drive to learn more.
Be aware of what you “feed your brain” — limit trash TV and social media; pursue professional development; and find partners and mentors who will hold you accountable.
2. A “do-whatever-it-takes” mind-set
Be willing to get out of your comfort zone, do things you don’t necessarily want to do, take risks, and make difficult decisions.
This means having a “never-say-die” attitude — no matter what the odds are against you. You must also develop a solid action plan based on a set of written goals to get you where you want to go.
3. A willingness to outwork others
An up-at-dawn, down-at-dusk mentality is critical. You’ve got to put a lot of seeds in the ground and be 100 percent committed to reaching your goal.
But outworking others also means having the discipline to be consistent in dealings with customers and clients, and the ambition to become “exceptional” – wowing others by going above and beyond.
4. A heartfelt spirit of gratitude
Concentrating on what you have, instead of what you lack, colors everything you do. Not only should you be grateful for the blessings in our lives, but also for the setbacks because that’s how you’ll learn the most.
Gratitude is transformational. It has the power to change your focus from eternal pessimism to all that’s great and possible. Remember appreciate those closest to you. It’s not enough to just say thanks – you have to really mean it.
5. A boldness to invest
You can’t play with one chip or two; you must put in everything you have. This means investing in yourself, in your vocation, and in other people.
You can sow the seeds of self-development by committing to continuous growth and learning. Remember that not all progress is visible and have faith that your investment will pay off.
6. A commitment to delay gratification
Worthwhile accomplishments require time, and you must think long term. Delayed gratification is the discipline required to ultimately have your goals and dreams come to pass.
You must be willing to sacrifice — to say no to easy credit, and to save and reinvest, rather than spend on immediate desires. Slow and steady wins the race.
7. An appreciation of where they came from
Remembering where you came from gives you perspective, reminds you to be grateful, and keeps you humble. This means knowing your family’s history as well as your own.
Keep a journal to track your thoughts and activities, get to know yourself better, and be able to appreciate your own progress.
Adapted from The Emigrant Edge: How To Make It Big In America (Howard Books) by Brian Buffini. Copyright (c) 2017 by Brian Buffini. All rights reserved. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.
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