On a recent episode of The Truth About Success podcast, I sat down with producer, director, and author Nick Nanton. Nick has authored more than two dozen best-selling books, including the Wall Street Journal bestseller Story Selling. He has produced and directed more than 60 documentaries, earning him 43 Emmy nominations and 22 wins. With us, he shared his insights on accepting responsibility for your success, finding your unique abilities, and focusing on your “why.”
Success Requires Continual Progress
Success is all about continuing to learn and grow along the way. “If you aren’t growing and learning,” Nick told me, “you aren’t progressing. I learned how to be an entrepreneur at a young age. My parents taught me that I could have anything I wanted in life, but they couldn’t give it to me; they could only support me. I quickly learned I was responsible for my own success.”
I’ve noticed in my own life that successful people accept that responsibility: If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me. Unsuccessful people blame everyone else — the government, their family, etc. They never accept responsibility, and they’re constantly making excuses.
“This is also Chapter One of Jack Canfield’s Success Principles for a reason,” Nick said. “Act as if you’re responsible in all things, even when you’re not.”
Finding Your Unique Ability
I asked Nick how he finds the time to get it all done. The key, he said, is finding a way to operate within your unique ability.
“The more you dig into your unique abilities, the more you’ll be able to identify the one thing you do well, and ideally, that’s all that you do. You never get burned out, and you can constantly provide more value to the world and your client base.”
Nick’s unique ability, he says, is having impactful conversations that lead to produced outcomes. In other words, he refers to having conversations that inspire and facilitate teamwork.
A lot of people might be wondering how to find their unique ability. They say 72% of people who work today hate their jobs and only do it because it pays the bills. I’ve always said, once you love what you do, that’s the day you stop working and you start enjoying life. But how do you find that? What do you look for?
Nick suggests taking a quarterly approach. As you go through each day, pay attention to the things you enjoy and the things causing you friction. Write down the things you don’t like doing, and try to remove two or three of them from your list of responsibilities every 90 days. Eventually, you’ll get rid of all the things that cause you friction. It will take time to define and refine your unique ability, but like everything else, it’s a journey.
Many people stumble into their unique abilities. I was a shy introvert—which surprises a lot of people now—but I stumbled into sales by being desperate and needing to find something I was good at.
Focusing on your “why” is one way to start making a living at the things you enjoy doing, as I explain in my first book, Have You Got the Why Factor? I’ve always said, if you have a big enough why, you’ll figure out how.
Do Three Things
Finally, I asked Nick what advice he would give to someone who is just starting. “Be as strict with yourself as you can,” he replied. Depending on where you are in life, this may be more difficult. “We’ve all seen people who have built a financial prison for themselves. But if you’re in a position where you don’t have overhead and financial responsibilities, stick with your why, and bend as little as possible.”
Identify three impactful things you want to accomplish every day — things in harmony with your goals and where you want to go in life. Schedule those three things into your day. At the end of the week, you’ll have accomplished 15 things that will help you move forward and make progress in life. As Nick points out, achieving 15 impactful things a week means you’re doing way more than a lot of people.