I get emails and comments all the time asking me how I do what I do. To people on the outside, it can look like something magical.
I’m one of the top writers on Medium and make a fair share of my income from writing here. Then there’s my coaching business, which has been thriving and growing since my big viral break on TikTok last year. People who desire these jobs or this lifestyle want to know how to get them. They want me to sell them the blueprint and make it possible for them to do what I make look effortless.
But it’s not that easy…
The people whose success you admire? They didn’t get there by accident. It was a long hard climb. There was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. More importantly, there were major sacrifices made.
You don’t see any of that, but that’s what truly makes successful people successful —the commitment to a vision. Every single person who has gotten where you want to get got there not by talent, not by skill. Those things played a part, but they weren’t the reason they were able to conquer the odds.
So how did they do it? There’s one central trait that every successful person has. Want to make the money they did? Publish the books? Get the notoriety? Then you have to cultivate this single trait above and beyond anything else.
Most people aren’t self-starters.
It’s important to set out with the right perspective. The x-factor that makes the top writers? The top CEOs? The top inventors and influencers? It’s something that comes naturally to some, but not to most. Most people are conditioned by their bonds to this world, and that can create narratives that make it hard to take action toward success.
Most people aren’t “doers”. They are “be told what to doers”. They expect to be told what they do, they want to have their hands held. Many people expect the people around them and those in charge to hand them the keys and a how-to guide — but that’s not how life works.
Your self-determination. Your willpower. Your belief in who you are. All these things have the power to make or break this journey for you.
This is the single greatest personal flaw that holds most people back from getting the money and the success that they crave. Taking that extra step of true defining action. Even the hard-working ones rarely cross the line of true radical self-determination. It’s too scary. To be truly self-determined means figuring out what you need and then figuring out how to get it…at all costs.
Face it. Most people don’t have that gumption. They’re not willing to make that kind of sacrifice or make that kind of bet on themselves. They’re not self-starters who get up, hit a wall, and then say to themselves, “Better look around for another door.”
No. The majority of people give up when they hit big obstacles, or when they’re asked to learn a big new skill or perspective. It’s the single biggest determining factor between who “gets there” and who doesn’t. If you want that big dream life, then you have to learn this x-factor, too. And yes, you can learn it with commitment and courage.
The one skill that will make you more successful than everyone else.
Most will be assuming that this one undeniable trait is confidence or bravery, but it’s not. The most successful people in the world aren’t always the most confident person in the room, nor are they the bravest. They are simply the people who cultivate the trait which allows them to push beyond their fears, insecurities, and hesitations.
What’s the one skill that will make you more successful than everyone else? Being radically self-determined. Taking the initiative and giving yourself what you want — no matter what you have to learn or shoulder to get there.
Look at any definition you may have of success. Analyze the most successful people in that sphere. Their talent alone didn’t set them apart. Their looks, their skills, and no single individual element can be the sole reason behind their success. That’s because a million other people have those looks, have those skills, have those talents. Not all of them will become successful.
What sets the “winners” apart is their insatiable need to win. They won’t let themselves stop, even when they’re insecure, even when they’re uncertain of the future. They keep going because they are self-determined. There is a clear vision for their lives in their heads, and they will do whatever it takes to give that to themselves. They’re not waiting for others to hand it to them.
A truly self-determined person doesn’t follow the plan someone else hands them and expects to conquer. Life is way more complex than that and they know it. Unexpected failures and challenges will always happen. Doors will always be slammed in their face. So how do they get to the next level?
They keep going. These are the people who will stay up all night learning new languages or teaching themselves how to code apps and websites. It’s the writers who don’t expect editors to do for them what The Elements of Style and a few boring editing sessions could.
Truly self-determined people take the answer “no” from only one person: themselves. By holding themselves to high standards until they reach the finish line, they become the most successful people in any room they’re in.
How to become radically self-determined.
If you’re someone who’s been sitting on their hands, waiting for life to offer up the answers, then this all probably seems like a pretty scary concept. To be radically self-determined, you have to be radically responsible for yourself. Win or lose, it all comes down to you. It’s not a path for the faint of heart, but it is one that we can teach ourselves to tread toward success.
1. Figure out where you’re going
Radically self-determined people are filled with an energy that’s palpable. This isn’t necessarily kinetic energy. It’s a lot deeper than that. It’s an energy of total clarity. They project themselves as people who know exactly what they want. That’s the power. Radically self-determined people have a clarity of vision that fuels them to get things done on their own terms.
Until you know exactly where you need to go, you can’t plan out the action to get there.
Creating this type of energy or drive is a necessary first step in learning to be radically self-determined. If you desire to take consistent action toward your goals, you need to know — with absolute certainty — what those goals are (not their outcomes) and why they are important to you.
Figure out where you’re going before you start taking grand action to get there. Dig deep. You’ve got to weed out every single outside influence and know that what you’re choosing is entirely aligned with what you need for self-fulfillment. Who do you want to be? How do you want to feel? Who do you want to be surrounded by?
Getting to the bottom of these questions will shine a light on the things you need to align yourself with in order to confidently (and successfully) achieve a radical sense of self-determination.
2. Get beyond your biggest fears
For the person who can’t self-start, fear is the biggest obstacle. They’re scared of what people will think of them if they go after what they want, with no excuses. They’re scared they’ll be made fun of, or that they will fail. Most of all, they are scared of being absolutely and fully responsible for their lives. That means the good and the bad. There’s no one to blame when you get it wrong or fall on your face.
Why are you giving your fears more power over your life than yourself? You are the one who determines your destiny.
The biggest fears must be transcended if you want to be radically self-determined. The most successful people who you envy? Who do you idolize? They are scared every single day. They’re not superhuman. The difference is that they act despite their fear. Total commitment to the vision.
It’s a pattern you have to take on for yourself if you want to be successful. Even if you’re scared, even if you’re convinced it will be a disaster, start taking small steps toward the things that you want. Speak up. Do things that make you feel out of your element. Each day, look for one small thing you can do that scares you (in a good way).
Fear can be a powerful motivator when all other options are missing. So, if you’re scared, use it. See that path as the one with the greatest potential for action and for success.
3. Take action in the face of big odds
Everyone on the road to success reaches a crossroads at some point. They get in the pattern of flow, but all of a sudden that flow stops. They look up and realize they’re at the final hurdle and they’re facing insurmountable odds. It seems impossible. Maybe they don’t have the right notoriety, the right credentials, or something else that makes them think, “Is this really going to work?”
This is the defining moment that separates the radically self-determined from those who settle in life. Despite those impossible odds, that major challenge, the radically self-determined person pushes on. They climb the mountain. Why? Because they know what’s on the other side.
You are who you make yourself out to be. You can choose to become the ideal version of yourself, or you can choose to give up and let life pass you by.
You must learn to do exactly this. Do. Do. Do. Do what you want, when you want. Do what needs to be done to get you the future that will allow you to be fully who you are (and at peace).
Stop allowing the opinions of others to shape what you know is your fundamental truth. Stop allowing “concrete” expectations and rules to prevent you from finding a way into the circles of success you desire most. If you need to get to Point A to get to Point B — then do it. No more excuses.
Do what has to be done, learn what has to be learned, and figure it out no matter how creative you have to get on Google or in the local library. If you have to reach out and ask questions, pick up the frickin phone. Make it happen. Get the credential. Go back to school. Start the business. Do and make no apologies for that doing.
Radical self-determination will change your life if you have the courage to open the door to it. It will move you beyond your fear and lead you to a fierce belief in your ability to learn anything, to do anything, to climb any mountain. That belief in your vision is most of the battle. You must create a tangibly attainable future that you have no choice but to act in the name of.
Wake up every day and start telling yourself, today is the day it happens. Today is the day I take one more step. Today is the day I commit.
Commit to that vision of the future and the knowledge that you deserve it. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to have all the answers — you have to be determined to thrive on your terms. Act now, and act in the name of your highest self. Time is running out. Become radically determined to be the architect of your life.
© E.B. Johnson 2023