In 1916, J.D. Rockefeller became the world’s first billionaire. Today, over 100 years later, the principles which allowed him to achieve such greatness are still as relevent as when he made his fortune. Today, Ignitia examines the three steps to achieving greatness according to J.D. Rockefeller.

1. Focus

“Singleness of purpose is one of the chief essentials for success in life, no matter what one’s aim.” -J.D. Rockefeller

Aristotle once said, “Nothing improves aim like a target.” In business, as in life, the first step toward achieving our goals is setting them. This may sound exceptionally obvious, but it’s amazing how many companies close because they failed to establish their specific goals. To be successful it is not enough to simply set the goal of ‘being successful’, instead we must define in concrete terms exactly what success means for us so we can gauge how close we are to hitting our personal bull’s eyes.

2. Perseverance

“I do not think there is a quality so essential to success as the quality of perseverance.” – J.D. Rockefeller

In business, as in any area of life, success is defined by achieving the goals we set for ourselves. However, once we set those goals, obstacles will always arise to block the path between our current position and where we want to be. Once we fix our determination on a steadfast goal and resolve to reach this goal no matter what the attribute which most allows us to overcome these obstacles is perseverance. Rockefeller understood this, and employed it time and again on his way to becoming the wealthiest person on the planet.

3. Ambition

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” -J.D. Rockefeller

Finally, if we want to become great we must not stop until we reach greatness. When we are on the course to become great, at some point we will inevitably become good. When this level of achievement is reached, many give in to sitting on their laurels and enjoying this level of success. In order to be great however, we must keep striving always to be better. We must push past good, in order to become great.

When M. Night Shyamalan was writing The Sixth Sense, his goal was to write a great screenplay. Ten drafts in, what he had was a very good screenplay. But he was not striving for good, he was striving for greatness. So he kept writing and on his eleventh draft (spoiler alert) he discovered his story would be immensely better if his main character was a ghost the whole time. Thus, by not settling for simply being good, and by continuing to push past it, M. Night Shyamalan created one of the greatest movie endings of all time.

By defining our goals, by remaining steadfast and committed to overcoming obstacles, and by not settling for anything less than greatness, perhaps someday we too will enjoy a level of success similar to J.D. Rockefeller’s.