Written by Chatri Sityodtong
A few weeks ago, I was in Europe where I was invited to teach Entrepreneurship at Vienna University of Technology in Austria. Throughout my business career, I have had the good fortune of teaching as a guest lecturer or speaker at some of the world’s best universities such as Harvard University, INSEAD (where I am an Entrepreneur-in-Residence), Singapore Management University, and others. Students often ask me what the key to success in life is. To tell you the truth, I am still figuring things out just like everyone else is. I do have some guiding values and principles that I follow, but I cannot sit here and tell you that I know everything. I am far from perfect. I make tons of mistakes. I have good days and bad days just like everyone else does. That being said, I firmly believe in my guiding life principles and do my best always to adhere to them.
- Live with integrity. Live in such a way that would make your mom proud, even if she knew all of your worst moments in life. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. We all fall down. However, we should always strive to do the right thing and to do our best to live with integrity. For me, integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.
- Do what it is that ignites your soul. If there is one thing that I have learned about life, it is that the world has it wrong. Success does not create happiness. Happiness creates success. We are happiest when we follow what is in our hearts. When we are at our happiest, we are most alive and naturally willing to give 100% to every minute of every day. When we give 100% to every minute of every day, extraordinary things can happen. Dreams can turn into realities. Do what it is that ignites your soul. The funny thing is that we don’t choose who or what we love in life. Our hearts want what our hearts want, irrespective of logic or reasoning. When you feel a strong attraction to someone or something, it is a sign. Embrace it (as long it is not harming anyone or making you do anything illegal or immoral). The world does not need more people who blindly chase material things. No, the world needs more people who are alive – truly alive – to make it a better place for all. Ultimately, I would rather be a failure at something I love than be a success at something I hate.
- Find mentors and role models. Success leaves clues. Find mentors and role models who have already achieved in life what you would like to achieve in life. If you want true love, study what the happiest couples do. If your dream is to be the best doctor in your country, study what the best doctors in your city or country did to achieve their accomplishments and reputation. If you want to be a World Champion, study the lives of World Champions and learn how they did it. If you want to be a millionaire, find millionaire role models who you would like to be someday. If you want to be an entrepreneur, find a few entrepreneurs who inspire you and study how they achieved what they did. History is a great teacher of what to do and what not to do.
- Grow 1% every day. We are all works-in-progress. No one is perfect. The most important thing is to keep learning, growing, and evolving every day. The power of compounding is one of the most powerful forces in life. If you grow something by 1% every day, it will double in value after only 70 days. Of course, it is impossible to know if you are really growing yourself 1% a day or 0.1% a day or 5% a day or not at all. My point is simply that we should all strive to learn, grow, and evolve every day. It is a daily attitude. It is an every day mindset. It is a life philosophy. Do your best to learn from experiences, books, lectures, videos, conferences, history, and any other medium. Every day is a golden opportunity to become a better father, son, brother, mother, daughter, sister, doctor, engineer, fighter, entrepreneur, student, or whatever.
- Surround yourself with greatness to unleash your greatness. We are all simply the average of the 5 people with whom we spend the most time. If you surround yourself with dreamers and achievers, you will become a dreamer and achiever. If you surround yourself with haters and doubters, you will become a hater and doubter. In every facet of my life, I try my best to surround myself with those who inspire me to dream more, do more, and be more in life. From my experience in the martial arts industry, I can tell you that World Champions are only made when they have a great team of people around them: training partners, coaches, family, business leaders, etc. It takes an entire army to build a World Champion in martial arts. The same goes for every other job. No one succeeds alone. There is an African proverb that I love. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
- Embrace failure. Failures are simply stepping stones on your path to greatness. Embrace them as wonderful opportunities to learn, grow, and evolve. I have failed many times in every area of my life. However, my failures in life have often laid the groundwork for my biggest successes in life. I have never met a successful person from any field who has never failed. In fact, the most successful people in the world often have stories and stories of failure before they achieved success. Failure is your key to success.
- Give more than you take. I always try my best to create win-win situations with everyone, but I also try to give more than I take for all of my relationships – be it in my personal or professional life. It isn’t necessarily altruistic, but rather simply a long-term approach to relationships. When you create win-win situations and leave some value for the other side, you will always find yourself in good situations. If you do the reverse, you will always find yourself in bad situations. Gratitude is a natural magnet. Greed is a natural repellent. The average man seeks what he can receive from the world. The extraordinary man seeks what he can give to the world. I firmly believe in this saying, and I try my best to live it.
- Eliminate the bad apples. I believe in surrounding myself with good people with positive energy. People always ask me why I am slow to hire and quick to fire for my companies. I hire very slowly because I believe the culture of a company is its fuel for extraordinary achievement. A broken culture leads to low morale and poor performance. Every single hire is a critical component to the culture of a company. I fire quickly because nothing is worse than a bad apple who damages the happiness of others or brings the team down or does not exemplify the shared values of the team. Likewise, in life, nothing is worse than negative, selfish, entitled people in your life. It takes strength and courage to eliminate the bad apples from your life, but it is necessary so that you can unleash your potential. Think of those people as deadweight bricks. Cut out the deadweight bricks from your life, and watch your life soar.
- Choose light over dark. There is a battle in each of us every day. Don’t succumb to anger, greed, sloth, jealousy, hatred, revenge, arrogance, entitlement or any other form of negative energy. I truly believe that negative energy begets negative energy. If you live with negativity, you will soon be a magnet for complainers, whiners, doubters, and naysayers. Do your best to choose positive energy such as gratitude, humility, patience, courage, happiness, hard work, charity, and kindness. It doesn’t mean that we must all live in the light every moment of every day with positive energy; no, it would be impossible because we are all human after all. However, I do try my best every day to choose light over dark. Goodness and positivity are choices just as evil and negativity are. Be careful what you feed every day. You will become what you feed.
- Live with a warrior spirit. Be unbreakable. Bad things will happen to all of us. It is just a part of life. Life is not fair. Some of us will lose a loved one too early. Some of us will experience heath problems. Some of us will encounter poverty. Some of us will be the recipient of bad luck. No matter what happens in your life, promise yourself that you will always do your best and fight the good fight. Be a warrior. It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down in life as long as you always get back up to fight for your dreams.
This list is simply a reflection of my personal thoughts, experiences, and values in life; and it may or may not be valid for you. It is by no means an exhaustive list. That being said, these 10 guiding principles and values have helped me tremendously in my life and I hope that a few of them will help you too. Do good. Live what you love. And never give up. May your journey of unleashing your greatness in life be a happy and fulfilling one!
Chatri Sityodtong is a self-made Harvard MBA entrepreneur. His rags-to-riches life story has been profiled on TV around the world on Bloomberg TV’s High Flyers, CNBC’s Entrepreneur Asia, and other media. He is currently the Founder and Chairman of ONE Championship, Asia’s largest sports media property with with a global broadcast to over 1 billion homes around the world. Sityodtong’s business holdings include companies in sports, media, technology, beverages, and real estate industries. His businesses have been featured across the globe on CNN, Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Forbes, Bloomberg TV, Reuters News, Fortune, Yahoo!, Fox Sports, ESPN StarSports, Channel NewsAsia, New York Times, and many other media. He is also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at INSEAD, Europe’s top business school.