1. Eliminate anything that doesn’t support you.
Whether it’s food that makes you feel sick, people whose attitudes are toxic, nonsense on television or the internet, gossip at work, or whatever, if it’s not a positive influence, then the best thing to do is to simply cut it out of your life. Keep only the positive stuff: the things that cultivate good, productive emotions and actions.
2. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want.
This bit of advice is extremely important in interpersonal relationships, which is of course paramount to Cook’s line of work. However, as any good entrepreneur knows, it’s also a crucial element of success in any field. When you’re interacting with another person, don’t focus on the negative, such as if the other person may not like you, or if they’ll say no to something you might ask them. Instead, focus on the positive potential outcomes of your encounter, like a possible partnership or excellent working relationship. As Cook puts it, you want to punch through the wall, not at the wall.
3. Make the commitment to be great.
It’s easy to let rough patches or excruciatingly challenging situations get the best of you, and it’s easy to just quit when things get tough. However, if you make the commitment to be great, if you can push through and make it to the other side of a difficult time, then you’re conditioned to do it over and over again. When you can do it once, it makes the next time less strenuous and sets you up to achieve whatever you want and excel at a higher level. Cook encourages people to look at challenges as a potential advantage: they give you a leg up on people who have never had to go through a difficult situation, they build your resilience, they strengthen your willpower, and they improve your drive to succeed.
4. Complaining is wasted energy.
Life is short, Cook insists, and complaining is about the least productive thing you can do with your time on Earth. Yes, less than desireable things will happen every now and then, but instead of complaining about them, understand that difficult situations make you stronger. Also, if you can take it one step further, use difficult situations as opportunities to make improvements. Instead of complaining about something that happened or bitching about the way things are, take steps to make those things better so no one else will see them as negatives.
5. Have a goal, and work toward it.
This rule is similar to an old Zig Ziglar line: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Cook encourages people to walk a path to success knowing what’s at the end. The journey is important, yes, but you’ve got to have a destination and a picture in your head of what success looks like. Calibrate your internal compass, and don’t veer from the road that you’re supposed to be on.
6. If you want something, take action.
No one owes you anything, and no one is going to do anything for you. According to Cook, you need to make things work for you, and that means taking action and doing it yourself. He points out that help and offers of assistance are monsters that feed themselves. In other words, if you never do anything for yourself, people are less drawn to you, and it will be really hard to call on others for favors. On the other hand, if you establish yourself as a person who gets things done, you attract a lot of people who want to help you out and do things for you. Simply put, you need to do things for yourself if you want to bring others in and have them work with you. And, it’s important to start taking action early on.
7. You’ve got to earn success and work to keep it.
Success isn’t easy to get. It’s a privilege, not a right, and it’s fleeting; if you don’t take that concept seriously, you won’t have success for very long. Cook believes that mediocrity is the baseline, and success needs to be earned by daily hard work and perseverance. He’s not saying that you shouldn’t take a break from time to time, but you need to almost always be working hard if you want to maintain success.
8. Establish clear boundaries.
You are the captain of your own ship — you get to decide who spends time with you, what you spend your time on, and how your days play out. To that end, you need to take control of your life and set clear boundaries for what you will and won’t do, who you will and won’t see, and so on. Stay true to those boundaries, and you’ll have a much easier time achieving success.
9. Remember that self improvement is a positive thing.
Cook points out that sometimes, in the process of learning new things and trying to become better versions of ourselves, we can get bogged down in the idea that we’ve been lacking and not living up to our potential. He says that the very act of self improvement (in whatever form it takes in your life) can magnify those negative feelings. However, we should resist the urge to feel that way! Instead, it’s important to appreciate and enjoy the journey you’re on, and remember that you’re working toward the best you that you can be. Frame self improvement as a positive, and you’ll be better set up to be successful.
10. Be the wolf, not the sheep.
Cook explains that there are two types of people in the world. There are the sheep, who want to be told what to do, and who look for a resolution in all things. They’re tired and scared, and just need to feel like they’re a part of a bigger hierarchy and know that everything is going to be OK. Then, there are the wolves, who aren’t afraid of making big decisions, who go after what they want and become exactly the person they want to become. The wolves understand that life is ambiguous, and that there’s no great resolution waiting for them, and they aim for success in spite of those things. If you’re going to be successful, you can’t be a sheep. You have to be a wolf.