Shaun T's 10 Commandments for Success

Here's a lesson I've learned in my life: It isn't that I made a bunch of friends who furthered my career. That's not it. But here's what's shaped me.

October 31, 2017
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Adapted from Shaun T's new book, T Is for Transformation: A 7-Step Program for Digging Deeper, Feeling Stronger, and Living Smarter

Here's a lesson I've learned in my life: It isn't that I made a bunch of friends who furthered my career. Rather, it's that you have the ability to look past the limitations of your current circle, especially if it's so small that it's squeezing you into an uncomfortable space, or holding you back from rising higher.

Make connections, and give people reasons to connect with you. The stronger you are, the stronger your circle is, and the more you can all accomplish. Together.

More: Shaun T's 7 Exercises That'll Transform Your Life

Appearing on stage in Los Angeles in the musical The Ten Commandments was the culmination of all the hard work I'd done as a dancer, and it introduced me to an amazing group of friends and mentors. But, it also started me thinking about my own rules for living. Ten is a good number! With apologies to my grandfather, Pop-Pop, let me take a couple of tablets from God's own playbook, and hand down my own Ten TransformaShaun Commandments on how to go biblical with your own success.

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Commandment #1: Thou shalt forget about "instant success"

Calling successes instant anything ignores the million individual steps required along the way. If you miss even one of those steps, you might trip coming through the doorway, or more likely, not make it there at all. When you're looking for your breakthrough, remember that it will be a product of a long investment of time (remember the 10,000 hours?), skills (uniquely yours), and effort (see Commandment #2). Better start now.

More: 21 Ways to Be a Happier Person Every Day of Your Life

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Commandment #2: Thou shalt honor thy passions

If you're going to be in it for the long haul, you better have a hot fire in your engine. Passion, fascination, curiosity, commitment is your fire. What fuels yours? Each of us has a unique gift that we can develop with the right care and attention. Start by asking yourself: What is it that you do not because it's next on your to-do list, but because nobody could stop you from doing it if they tried? Building a world-class skill takes world-class effort. Start with what you're willing to work hard at, and see where that can take you.

More: Symptoms of the Itch: Signs You Need a Side Hustle

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Commandment #3: Thou shalt build thy foundation

Your passion won't mean a thing if you don't practice the skills that will help you translate it into action. Let your passion lead you through a deep exploration of the subject and all the ways it's expressed in the world. It means that you'll be learning new skills, and need to practice, practice, and practice them some more. If it's truly your passion, the fire will burn through rounds of confusion and discomfort until you can develop your expertise in a way that's uniquely yours.

More: 10 Key Questions To Clarify Your Purpose

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Commandment #4: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's success

Here's a big pitfall. Looking around too much at what others have done can cause you to miss what you're meant to do. You can learn a lot by looking side to side to see what others are up to, but not if you let it divert you off your own path. Develop who you are and what you can do.

More: 7 Reasons You Should Run With a Partner

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Commandment #5: Thou shalt carefully recruit thy posse

Dale, the guy who questioned the energy I gave to my students at Equinox, was probably right—and you can learn more about it in my book, T Is for Transformation. I didn't need to be so friendly. And yet, my people skills helped me get many of my biggest breaks. By taking a genuine interest in people, I was able to make real connections that led to them wanting to help me. Jobs are a mix of the personal and the professional, and you'll be judged on both of them. So, work hard at both.

More: 5 Friends Every Badass Babe Should Have in Her #GirlSquad

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Commandment #6: Thou shalt not expect perfection

You'll hear me bashing the pursuit of perfection a lot in my new book book. In fact, your desire to get things exactly right could keep you from moving forward at all. Perfectionists tend to be super-self-critical, and they can get hung up on small details that don't matter in the long run. I'm not saying that details aren't important, but they're not the only thing that matters. Cut yourself some slack on perfection, and keep your eyes on the bigger prize, whatever it may be. Perfection happens for a moment, but change is constant. Open yourself up to change, and master that.

More: How the Pursuit of Perfection Hinders Your Hustle

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Commandment #7: Thou shalt honor thy small successes

I'll say it again: Fit is just a number. The milestones that are important are the ones where you realize that you feel better, or are getting better, or are surprising yourself with how deep you can dig. And, those are the moments that you should celebrate—every day, if possible! It just reminds me that our journeys in life aren't usually made up of giant leaps. They're an accumulation of small steps in the right direction. Even small steps in the wrong direction teach you something. If we really want to make progress in life, we need to celebrate each of those small steps, because they're what get you places. If you have a long way to go, stop looking at the horizon. Start looking at an achievable distance nearby, and do everything you can to get there. Then, celebrate (briefly)!

More: 6 Ways to Make Your Resolution Stick

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Commandment #8: Thou shalt put the haters in their place

This is the flip side of Commandment #5, where you gather your posse. Because, just as surely as you need goals to keep your life moving forward, you'll attract people who will delight in telling you that you'll never get there. But there's a difference between people who tell you you're hopeless, and people who help you strategize the steps along a difficult journey. Figure out who's merely pointing out hurdles, and who's helping you develop the stride to jump over them.

More: 9 Best Celeb Responses to Fat-Shaming Haters

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Commandment #9: Thou shalt reset the GPS when you need to

It's okay for your goal to change. That's the thrill of the journey, right? You'll have a different perspective 3 miles down the road than you do when you're just starting out, and that's a good thing. If you set your sights on traveling from Jersey to L.A., and find out that Kansas City is where you were meant to be, that's an amazing result. Plus, the barbecue is really good there. You may never reach your original destination, but that's not the point, anyway. You're constantly moving, and you'll often surprise yourself with the arrival point. "Recalculating" just might be the most thrilling words you can hear from your internal GPS.

More: 8 Guidelines for Successful Goal Setting

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Commandment #10: Thou shalt be willing to leave thy old life behind

I put this last, but maybe it should have been first. Really, it's a kind of subtext to every commandment here. We so often prefer where we are—no matter how difficult or annoying or just plain boring it is—to the unknown ahead. But sometimes, the devil you know literally is a devil. In order to move on, you need to believe in a better place and trust yourself to reach it. At the start, it takes imagination, but soon you can fill it up with the details and skills that make it your new reality. And that devil? He's shrinking in the rearview mirror.

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