05/20/2014 06:22 pm ET Updated Jul 20, 2014

5 Rules for Success I Wish I Learned 10 Years Ago

There's no rulebook for success. Everybody's story is different, but there are some things that are universal. Throughout the past ten years I've read dozens of books on self-help, leadership, personal development, entrepreneurship and business biographies. There are a few key characteristics I've noticed in everyone's story as well as my own story. I feel privileged to share the 5 rules for success I wish I learned 10 years ago.

Purpose Over Paper:

How many of us are guilty of chasing a job, career or business opportunity because of the perceived financial reward? I know I sure am. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It means that on some level you're highly motivated for success. However, what you do for a living should align with your aptitude vs. the financial reward. Every year millions of college graduates enter the workforce in high salary career fields such as law, medicine or business and quit once they realize they're not cut out for it. What is your purpose for life? The answer to this question is based on your aptitude. What are your natural gifts and talents? I know that this is easier said than done, but a career change may be in order for those who have found themselves in a career or business opportunity that doesn't align with their aptitude. I've made this mistake numerous times in the last ten years. I've started businesses and took jobs based on the financial reward without measuring how these businesses or jobs aligned with my aptitude. It wasn't until a year ago that I finally realized that my natural gift was communication. I figured this out after looking back on my entire life and focused on the things I was always good at. All signs pointed to writing and speaking. In the past year I've taken this new found discovery and have run with it, and because I'm doing what I love I have no problem working early mornings, nights and weekends establishing this new path. I hope this resonates with those who are looking to make a career change or life change but still have full-time commitments. I'm living proof that it's possible, but it takes dedication and focus.

Lend a Helping Hand:

I'll admit that this almost sounds borderline corny, but when you focus on helping other people and putting their needs and interests before yours, amazing things happen. In business I've found this approach particularly useful in how I approach writing and content creation. My first focus is always about how I can help people solve their problems. This has allowed me to create more engaging content and it's provided a tremendous amount of self-fulfillment. In your career or your business, always put your audience first. Instead of telling people what you want them to hear, tell them what they want to hear.

Endurance Wins the Race:

There are so many times when I want to quit and throw in the towel. Despite some of the success and validation I've received from others, there's not a day that goes by where I don't doubt myself, my business and what I spend my time on. It can be particularly discouraging when you're working hard towards achieving a goal and results aren't hitting your deadline. You're faced with a fork in the road. Do you slow down, pause, quit or keep going? Seth Godin would call this The Dip. In our fast-paced society so many successful people seem to have achieved success over-night. When you dig deeper you find that these people have endured a long and treacherous battle. Rather you slow down, pause, quit or keep going is dependent on your unique circumstances, but one thing that we should all understand is that life, business and everything else in-between is a marathon, not a sprint. Get ready for a long-haul.

Seek Validation:

When you start something and it's not working out the way you anticipated what do you do? What do you do when your career isn't taking off the way you hoped it would? What do you do when sales aren't going so good? Could it be you? It could be. This is why I've found that validation by unbiased 3rd parties is the best way to determine if you should course correct a particular path in your life. When I wrote my first book, I struggled with rather or not the content was good enough and after I published it, there were moments I wanted to give up when sales weren't rolling in as I expected. I lost confidence, but then I remembered the people who endorsed my book. Barbara Corcoran, Winn Claybaugh, Andrew Warner and Ryan Allis. These were major business leaders. This constant reminder and validation lets me know that I've created something remarkable. It allows and justifies my reason for continuing the race. Think about influencers in your life that can help validate what you do. This can be managers, mentors or industry leaders.

Quitting Can be Good:

I'm not a gambler, but I do know when to remove myself from the table. In other words, I know when it's time to throw in the towel. There are some people who hang on to one business idea or dream and it never pans out. They think that if they just keep at it that one day it will all work out. Then next thing they know, decades of their life has passed and they've spent thousands of dollars pursuing something that will never work out. My answer to this issue is very simple. Seek validation. I just mentioned this, but it's worth cross-referencing here with an additional point of view. If you've been working towards something that has taken longer than you planned and longer to accomplish than most others, find leaders within your field and ask them to help you evaluate what has gone wrong. It may just be time to quit, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Quitting something that was never going to work out allows you to move onto the next thing that might.