[Updated] The Six Pillars of Lasting Success

the pillars of success

Every week I receive dozens of emails from my readers, asking the same question. 

“Craig,” they say, “How are you able to run multiple businesses, travel the world, write best-selling books, and sell out events so consistently…What are your ‘secrets’ for success?” 

The truth is there isn’t any secrets.

I haven’t discovered anything that Mark Ford already didn’t know – or teach – already at Early To Rise before me.

Sure I might say them in a different way, and I might be more militant upon some – such as working on your most important task as soon as possible within waking up (as I’m doing now at 5:45am in the city of Tbilsi, Georgia before I go off on another hike to yet another monastery) – while Mark is more of a supporter of not checking your email until 5 pm.

What matters are not the minute details, but the principles. We believe in spending more time working in Eisenhower’s NUI quadrant (non-urgent, important) than in the UI (urgent, important).

This is how the magic happens. 

But people want to believe that there’s a secret they somehow missed. A weird trick or strategy to help them magically double their income, lose inches off their waist, and have a turn around their unhappy marriage. 

Magic entertains us, gives us false hope, and relieves us of our humanity. “It’s not our fault we aren’t rich, we just don’t have the magic beans!”

This is human nature. We want to believe success is complicated because this gives us an excuse for why we aren’t where we want to be. 

But the truth is: success is simple…once you accept how hard it is. 

There are no secrets. Only proven, timeless, and difficult principles that must be followed. 

This fact was perfectly illustrated when I received a marketing email from Brendon Burchard. 

For those of you aren’t familiar with him, Brendon is one of the most successful coaches on the planet. He’s written multiple NYT best-selling books, appeared alongside Larry King and Oprah, regularly sells out massive events, and runs one of the biggest coaching companies in the world. 

While I’ve met Brendon many years ago and read most of his books, to the best of my knowledge he’s never read any of my work.

Yet, inside of his email, he shared his six habits of highly successful people. Six habits that were almost identical to the five pillars of success I’ve been teaching for nearly a decade.

And if you spend enough time around other successful people you will notice something funny. All of them, almost without exception, credit their success to the same foundational strategies and habits. 

No matter how they describe them or what clever names they give them, these principles are incredibly consistent across every industry, time period, and highly successful person.  

And today, I want to share those principles with you. 

No matter where you are today or where you want to be, if you will follow these six timeless habits of high-performers, you can achieve your perfect life and achieve the success you desire.  

1. Cultivate Desire and Get Hungry 

At the end of the day, success or failure always comes down to one thing. 


Some people simply want success more than others. And for the highest achievers in the world, success isn’t a preference; it’s a necessity. 

Does this mean that people who don’t currently crave success at the highest levels are doomed to a life of mediocrity? 

Not at all. 

Desire is a skill. And like any other skill, it can be cultivated and developed over time. 

The key to becoming hungrier and increasing your desire for success is simple. 

You must first become uncomfortable and dissatisfied with the life you are living today, and then become obsessed with bringing a better future into reality. 

Right now, make a list of all the ways that your life is not working. 

Maybe you’re stuck at a job you don’t like, working too many hours in your business, buried in debt, on the brink of divorce, or so out of shape you can’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. 

Whatever it is, write it down. Get all of the gory and uncomfortable details out of your head and onto paper. Write down the specific things in your life that are causing you pain and all of the reasons you must make a change. 

A great example of this principle in action is my friend and mentor Ed Mylett (one of the world’s 50 richest under 50).

In his early 40’s, Ed was struggling to get his health under control. He was overweight, out of shape, and frankly, treating his body like crap. 

When he went to the doctor for a routine checkup, he was told that, “Your health is so bad that if you don’t make a change, another man will be walking your daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.” 

And almost overnight, Ed became obsessed with his health and fitness. 

The pain of missing out on one of the most important moments in his life cranked up Ed’s “desire factor” and, as a result, he became one of the healthiest people you’ll ever meet (seriously, he looks like someone off the cover of Muscle & Fitness – at nearly 50 years old!) 

To cultivate desire and hunger, the first step is to embrace the discomfort you are feeling today. 

Find the pain point and press until you can’t stand it any longer. Use the pain to find an inspiring “why” that will drive your decisions and push you toward greatness. 

And once you’ve identified this “why” you must turn it into tangible goals and action steps then review them every day. 

As I like to say, “Your Values and Vision Drive Every Decision.” 

When you have a desire, and a vision for your future, then you can channel that desire and vision into building powerful, unbreakable daily habits that make success almost automatic.

Meditate on them. Visualize them coming into reality. Dream 10X bigger than you are right now. 

Become obsessed with solving the root causes of your pain and frustration. 

If you will do this, success is inevitable. 

2. Build Momentum Through Consistent Practice 

The difference between exceptional and mediocre people rarely comes down to raw talent or luck. The real difference is simply that high-performers practice 10X more than their peers.

There’s no way around it. 

They do the work more consistently, frequently, and intensely than their peers. 

They are intentional about constantly improving their skills, mindsets, and behaviors and discovering the hidden levers that will catapult them to the life they desire. 

Yes, they rest, recover, and recharge (and do so more intentionally than average performers). But they are always in motion. Getting better. Paying attention. Measuring progress. And searching for that “slight edge” that will get them where they want to go. 

To create lasting success in your life and business, you must do the same thing. 

Commit to what Tony Robbins calls CANI or “Constant and Never-ending Improvement”. 

Practice your craft every day.

Seek out coaches, mentors, and information that will allow you to improve yourself and your respective skills. Continually test new strategies and habits until you find what works for you. 

This is part of my first Pillar of Success: Better Planning and Preparation are required for you to reach your goals. When you plan to improve and get 1% better every day, again, success becomes almost guaranteed. 

Remember, the game of personal development never ends. There is always another level and you must always seek to reach it. 

3. Build a Better Better Strategy Through Expert Coaching and Accountability

I was recently read an interview between Tim Ferriss and Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google. 

During the interview, Eric stated, in no uncertain terms, that one of the most important pillars of success is to have a coach. 

Even (read: especially) if you’re the best in the world at what you do. 

As he put it, “The coach doesn’t have to play the game as well as you. They have to watch you and coach you to be your best.” 

Think about it. If you’re a sports fan, look at Wayne Gretzky, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Usain Bolt. All of them had coaches. Today athletes like LeBron James have multiple coaches – from sports psychologists to nutritionists to strength coaches to shooting coaches to “regular” head coaches. 

Funny enough I’m even starting to coach a few pro athletes about personal productivity and discipline – fulfilling my childhood goal of being a coach in the pro’s (although I originally started out with the goal of being a Strength & Conditioning Coach). 

I cannot stress enough the need for a coach.

And I take my own advice. I have a speaking coach, a writing coach, a coaching coach, and a couple of business coaches. Each has helped turn me from poor, struggling farm boy into an entrepreneur who helped over 13 million people around the world.

Successful people get coaches. They invest in outside eyes because they are humble enough to acknowledge that they can’t figure out how to bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be (if they could, they’d already be there). 

I learned a long time ago that coaching is the fastest way to get the life you want because it allows you to have an objective third party–who has already achieved what you want to achieve–helping you identify the exact steps you need to take to live the life you want to live. 

High performers invest in coaches because they want the edge, they want confidence knowing they’re striving intelligently, they want to cut their learning curve, they want to know they’re not making dumb mistakes, they want perspective so they can anticipate what’s ahead and avoid nasty surprises, and they want accountability and smarter ways of living. 

If you want to succeed, get a coach. Commit to the process. Become radically accountable to someone you deeply do not want to disappoint. And trust that you can achieve any goal faster and easier when you have someone in your corner who has already done it. 

4. Leverage Social Support to Move Faster 

Successful people surround themselves with successful people. Period.

We’ve all heard the old quote, “You are the average of the five people you spend time with most.” 

But what most people don’t know is that this quote is actually backed by a mountain of research. 

Studies have shown that if you regularly assosciate with someone who is obese, divorced, addicted to cigarettes, or unemployed, your chances of adopting those same patterns and behaviors increases by 50% or more (and the same is true of positive habits). 

The people with whom you surround yourself matter. And successful people know this. 

It’s why successful people spend time with other successful people who are positive, happy, and generous. They don’t sit alone in their basements hoping they magically “find” a better peer group. 

They get out there in the community and make an effort to find people who will challenge them and force them to grow. 

They connect daily with positive people who want to talk about what’s right with this world, what’s possible, what’s exciting. 

And if you want to create exceptional results in your life, you must do the same thing. 

5. Proper Planning and Preparation Trump Everything 

Benjamin Franklin, the first American millionaire and arguably one of the most successful men in the nation’s history said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” 

Franklin knew the power of proper planning and preparation and as a result he became a best-selling author, millionaire entrepreneur, prolific inventor, and wildly successful political activist in a time before life coaches, transformational seminars, and self-help books. 

To become a high-performer and achieve the success you desire, you can’t leave anything to chance. 

If you begin your day, week, or month without a plan you’ve already lost. You must have crystal clear clarity on exactly what needs to be done, by when, and why. 

And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. 

By investing 1 day every month, 1-2 hours every Sunday morning, and 15 minutes at the end of each day to strategically plan your future and get clarity on your most important tasks, success will become more automatic. 

If you want to learn more about the specific strategies I recommend to plan your days, weeks, and months, you can click here to check out my best article on the topic.

6. Urgency (aka The BIG Deadline)

As I’ve mentioned on almost every one of the 300 podcast interviews I’ve done, this is often the most important pillar of them all. Without an incentive to act now, we wait, hesitate and procrastinate. This delay kills dreams.

But if you study successful people, you find they act with a sense of urgency.

They know that life is beautiful, rare, special and not guaranteed to continue. 

They know that any day could be their last and right now, in this very moment, they have a duty and obligation to perform at their best and share their gifts with the world. 

When you realize that life is short, it’s easier to get your act together. 

You learn to appreciate each moment and, as a result treat each moment with a sense of urgency and importance. 

You realize that you aren’t “just” goofing off on Facebook, scrolling through Instagram, or procrastinating on an important project. You are wasting your finite time and energy on something that offers no real value. You are giving away the most precious resource that you possess and you can never get it back. 

Show me someone so comfortable they no longer prioritize personal development, excellence and giving, and I’ll show you someone taking life for granted. I don’t say it to judge, I say it because I’ve faced my own death enough, and I’ve been with people at their end.

You want to win at life? Then realize you are blessed to have one.

Stop looking for secrets. Starting turning proven principles into power.


Want to achieve your 12 month goals in the next 12 weeks and start building lasting success?

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Craig Ballantyne

If you want to double your income, work less, and become the ambitious millionaire you've always wanted to be... Craig Ballantyne is the coach who will help you do it. With more than 20-years of experience as an entrepreneur and five 7-figure businesses under his belt, he specializes in helping "struckling" entrepreneurs get out of the mud and build the business of their dreams. To see if you qualify for Craig's "Millionaire Coaching Program" send an email to support@earlytorise.com with the subject line "Millionaire".