What does success mean to you?

A message from our CEO & Founder, Joseph Chou.

My definition of success has changed a lot over the years.

Initially, success for me meant having a great job and career, and this is why I became a diplomat.

When I decided to quit this profession and migrate to Australia – with little money and no job – I wanted to achieve financial success. By earning a good income, I hoped to validate my decision to leave China and make my parents proud of me again. I also wanted to be able provide for my family.

Once I started to earn a reasonable income, my next definition of success was to be able to have a little extra – to have more choices in life and the ability to give more to my family, friends and to charity.

Today, the way I define success has changed again. Now I believe that success is having the ability to do what I love to do; know that what I do gives value to a lot of other people; and be able to share my happiness with friends and family and continue to share my success with others.

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Success is being able to share not just money, but also time, knowledge and expertise for the benefit of others. Sometimes even just your presence or endorsement can have a great impact.

Recently, I found out that an old school friend in China was suffering internal bleeding in his brain and required emergency surgery. His wife was dying of cancer as well, so his daughter set up a crowdfunding page to raise the 300,000RMB needed for his treatment.

When I found out about it and saw there wasn’t a lot of money being donated – and time was of the essence – I contacted my friend Michael Yu, a billionaire and household name in China. I told him “this is real, and this is happening to the school captain of my old high school. I’ve donated 100,000RMB and have shared the post in my own social circle. You don’t need to contribute anything, but could you please share it in your circle?”

Michael responded saying he’d pledged 50,000RMB and had also shared the link. Our acquaintances, including Ironfish colleagues, also chipped in and the money was raised successfully.

Success can be defined in many different ways. Some people may define success purely in financial terms, or getting into a global 500 company, or progressing to a management position. For others it may mean getting a PhD or having influence in the community.

But what I’ve learned is that success is a journey, not a destination or a point. Success is constantly challenging ourselves in pursuit of our next dream.

I also know that success can be achieved by anyone and everyone, and while our pursuits may differ, the process we each have to go through is the same and can be roughly broken down into 6 steps.

Success in 6 steps

1. Desire/Deadline

Most people have good intentions, they have the skills or the potential to develop those skills, but most people are not definite about what they want. If you’re not definite, you’ll negotiate with yourself or with circumstances.

Identify what you want to achieve. You may have an ultimate goal you’re aiming for, but work out what’s the next step towards that goal – what’s your next level of success? Then, put a deadline to it. When you put a deadline to a dream, that’s when it becomes a goal, as opposed to just wishful thinking.

2. Mindset

Know your desired goal is possible to achieve. If someone else has done it before, then you know it’s possible. People who embrace possibility thinking are much more likely to be able to do the impossible.

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3. Find a coach or mentor

Many people overlook this step, but it’s an important one: learn from someone you respect and who’s done it before. Most successful people are willing to share their insights, because they know there’s no point taking it with them to the grave. But they’re only willing to share with the right people.

When I talk about this at my courses, I often have people who are very excited and ask to buy me a coffee afterwards. But when I say, “Sure, how about next time I come to town?” many give up because they didn’t get what they wanted immediately. To me, this shows they’re not really serious about it. If you truly feel this person can help you at the current stage of your life, then you’ll keep at it.

4. Put a team around you

It’s hard to do it alone. Work with as many people as possible who can help you achieve success.

In your early stages, when you’re pursuing your next level of success, the people you associate with will also have a huge impact on your mindset. I know people who never smoked, but when they started associating with cigar smokers, before long they were smoking cigars themselves. You become who you associate with!

5. Plan and take action

Your mentor or coach will help you put a plan of action into place and then it’s time to get to work!

Whatever level of success you’re aiming for, you will need to match it with equal levels of effort, learning and growth. If you’re not willing to pay the required price, you may need to compromise on the level of success you can achieve. As they say in investment: ‘higher risk, higher return.’

You will likely need to take some time building up some personal skills as well: people skills, leadership skills, communications and sales skills. I believe everyone needs sales skills; you will need to be able to convey how you can benefit others.

6. Persist!

Why did the African tribe’s rain dances always work? Because they would keep dancing until it rained.

The difference between truly successful people and those who fade away are those who persist. It may take some people longer to get there, or be much harder for some compared to others, but it’s possible. And the view from the top will be just as spectacular, whichever road you took to get there.

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Failing your way to success

I love the saying: “don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better,” because success doesn’t come easily. Obstacles and challenges are part of the game, and you will need to overcome many of them along the way.

But if you can stay focussed on your goal, rather than your obstacles, and keep the faith, you will be able to keep going even when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the people who stay till the end. Success takes time.

Keep the attitude, keep your dream alive, keep learning and growing, and listening to the right people, and working hard. And keep at it! If you can guarantee those things, then I can guarantee you success.

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Your best self

When you think about human lives; every day we have a routine. We wake up, eat breakfast, take the kids to school, go to work, sit on the train, do some reading, watch TV, go to bed, wake up and do it again.

If you don’t have anything more exciting to look forward to, then life becomes a simple repetition of what you did before. And it can become pretty boring. Or if the most exciting thing you have to look forward to is a holiday or perhaps just a weekend, then you’ll find yourself depressed come Sunday evening or Monday morning.

Not everyone aspires to become a millionaire or a CEO or develop a cure for cancer. But at the very least, we all want to become the best possible versions of ourselves and achieve our own next level of success. We all hope to live a life that has benefited others in some way.

Ultimately, I think, success comes when you wake up in the morning knowing that people’s lives are better because of the kind of person you are or because of what you do.

When you can be safe in the knowledge that you are leaving a legacy or have made an impact, and then you know that it has all been worth it.

Ironfish seminars

Joseph Chou presents regularly at a variety of events, workshops and property investment seminars across the country. Many of our own seminars are free to attend. Find out where Joseph is speaking next in your city and book your seat today.


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