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The 5 Stages of Success That All Level-10 Leaders Master Logan Stout unlocks a plan that levels up your leadership skills, allowing you to push through adversity and achieve your goals.

By Logan Stout Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Andrii Yalanskyi | Shutterstock

What if you knew the exact stages required to become a successful entrepreneur? If you knew ahead of time what you were going to face and what you'd need to do to stay focused to make it to your end goal versus quitting when things got rough?

In my experience, there is a simple road map that actually does just that. Knowing (or not knowing) about this journey ahead of time is one of the primary reasons I see people either succeed or give up. Look, being an entrepreneur isn't easy which is the reason that the percentage of successful entrepreneurs is very low. I see a lot of people get all excited about the possibilities of their business ideas, but they're unaware of the road map required to reach them. Thus, they typically get frustrated and quit.

Related: Sometimes 'Staying Positive' Isn't Enough — How Critical Thinking Helped Me Quickly Recover From Any Emotional Setback

Launching a new business is kind of like making your favorite meal. You cannot wait to dig in, but the problem is, someone has to do the cooking. It takes work. And if you don't have the right ingredients ready to make the perfect meal, you'll be compromising, skipping steps and it probably won't ever taste like what you were so excited about.

In business, this means you failed. No one wants to fail, and I truly feel that you won't fail if you level up your expectations of what you're about to face. Entrepreneurship is probably going to be a lot harder than you expect, but if you embrace the oncoming adversity and understand the five stages all leaders need to deal with, those high expectations for struggle will result in a higher ceiling of success.

Join my webinar on Tuesday, September 19th at 3:00 pm ET to dig deeper into Level-10 leadership.

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Stage 1: Honeymoon Stage

We've all been in the honeymoon stage. It's like dating that perfect someone before you realize they aren't perfect. (No one is.) You stay up until crazy hours talking about God only knows what. You call each other Pookie and other pet names. Then the day comes when they don't put the toilet paper roll on the right way, they don't put the toilet seat down or even flush, and a wide array of other nuisances that bring the highlight reel of the "perfect person" to a screeching halt. It's at that moment the honeymoon stage slowly fades, and your relationship hits a little adversity. Perhaps you face these problems head-on and work through them, or perhaps you decide to call it quits. Entrepreneurship is the same way. On day one, everything is exciting and there's nothing you cannot accomplish! Then the day comes — it always does — when adversity hits. The problems could be anything from cash limitations, a disagreement with your business partner, a delay in shipments, accounting errors, and more!

Related: Building Solutions In-House or Finding a Partner: Which Is Better? Here's What Leaders Need to Know.

Problems are going to occur, and they create critical moments where you decide if you can push through. For example, years ago I was traveling on business for IDLife, a personalized health and wellness company I founded in 2013, when the phone rings from my General Council. We had a problem. At IDLife, we pride ourselves on having the highest-quality ingredients and we pay money to have 3rd party testing done to validate what is in our products. We had just launched and were growing rapidly, and any backorder would cost us millions of dollars and customers. But during the testing, we found that the amount of protein in the products wasn't right. I had a decision to make and had to make it fast, and so I made a painful call: we rejected the order from the raw materials manufacturer. No one would have ever known the protein shakes weren't right, but we did. And our core value is to put people first and the right thing is always the right thing to do. So our company's momentum came to a screeching halt. It took us months to recover. Rejecting that order would have possibly bankrupted most startups. But thankfully, we not only survived, but we actually earned a deep level of respect from our customers. The great thing about adversity is you can simply go through it, or learn and grow from it. We chose to grow!

Stage 2: Adversity

Remember that any worthy business endeavor will cost more, take longer and be more stressful than you imagined…and that's how you know it's worth it! Great entrepreneurs and marriages, ALL OF THEM, survived adversity. You either go through the storm or you grow through the storm. Level 10 leaders know the storms will come and view adversity as a growth opportunity. Level 10 leaders get better in these moments while Level 1 leaders simply get bitter. Stage 2 is the first fork in the road for your business. Most people choose to quit. Others choose to keep going.

Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Shaquille O'Neal were sitting in my office. Anytime I'm around greatness, I love to ask questions. I asked Shaq about his toughest moment of extreme adversity. He said, "I got cut from my high school basketball team." That blew my mind. I asked how tall he was at that time. He said, "I was tall and terrible!" Shaq said he was lucky enough to connect with a coach and mentor named Ford McMurtry who helped him overcome his self-described clumsiness and helped develop his personal game and made him one of the most successful NBA players in history.

Related: The 5 Pillars of Thriving Teams and Extraordinary Workplace Cultures

Troy Aikman also experienced a fork in the road when he was young. He was recruited to play quarterback at Oklahoma but learned that the team's game plan would not take advantage of his throwing abilities — or help him get better. He transferred to UCLA and went on to have an amazing college career.

Both Hall of Fame athletes, both faced extreme adversity. And they both used adversity to fuel them. It made them hungrier not bitter. I cannot help but think of how many kids get cut from a team and never try again.

Always remember, adversity is going to come and that it's a requirement for success. You must see adversity as something you will overcome. It's when we are forced outside of our comfort zones we grow and get better. Embrace it!

Stage 3: Progress

It's been said that the number one key to happiness is progress. Getting better a little bit each day fuels us, gives us hope and helps us remember why we started in the first place. The key to progress is to keep going! If you fail long enough, you will succeed.

Walt Disney was turned down over 300 times before Mickey Mouse became a success. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, authors of the famous book Chicken Soup for the Soul, were turned down over 100 times. They failed long enough until they finally got a yes! A "no" means "not yet" if you keep going.

Like stage 1 (Honeymoon), stage 3 is a lot of fun. All of your hard work is finally paying off. You survived stage 2 (Adversity) and are now winning! The issue with winning is how one handles it. You either stay humble and hungry or you become complacent. And quite honestly, all of us have had moments of complacency.

Over the years, I have had the honor to meet and talk to some of the most successful people in the world. I have found that there are 15 common attributes they share, which wrote about in my latest book, Grit Factor, but a primary commonality is they are never satisfied. They may celebrate a big win for a moment, but they are back focused on how to be better. Think of Steve Jobs and Apple. The second the company launches a new phone, the next one is already in the works. If they operate like that, someone will beat them to the next best thing. That's how champions think! Remember, whatever you've done, the best is yet to come!

Stage 4: Management Mode

This is the stage where most potential goes to die. Entrepreneurs take a much-needed breath, but sometimes it's a never-ending breath. It reminds me of what I tell the baseball players I coach on the Dallas Patriots: "It's called a water break, not a water vacation. Let's go!"

The journey is hard and when we have some progress it's easy to stop growing and start managing; it's easy to stop leading and start monitoring. I've seen it thousands of times as I mentor leaders, athletes, business owners, and executive teams. This can make people feel stuck. They are in cruise control. They feel like something is missing and they can't quite put their finger on it. Most people are accidentally existing through life versus intentionally designing their lives.

I'm an investor on the show Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch. One of the other investors is Marc Randolf, the co-founder of Netflix. Blockbuster had a chance to own Netflix, but they laughed at the concept. Where's Blockbuster today? I always say that IDLife is the "Netflix of the vitamin world" while most other companies are like Blockbuster. Those other companies are one-size-fits-all, not customized and use outdated ingredients. Great companies are never comfortable or satisfied with where they are and what they offer. They know change is inevitable. You are either getting better or becoming irrelevant. And I sure don't miss getting late fees from Blockbuster!

Growth doesn't happen when we manage things. Growth requires leading! And when we lead well, we will eventually reach stage 5: success.

Related: Why Owning Your Decisions Is Critical to Your Success As An Entrepreneur

Step 5: Success

Success has many definitions, but to me, it's really about reaching your full potential. Success is a byproduct of doing the right things repeatedly over an extended period of time, with excellence! Most never get out of stage 4 (Management Mode) because they do not realize what got you there won't take you further. You have to grow you! Commit to becoming a Level 10 leader. When you grow, everything around you grows. And growth requires us to stop managing our lives and choose to lead our lives. Greatness lies outside of our comfort zones. We must expand our thinking so we can expand our actions. These new actions become habits and create our results, which translate to success.

Companies and organizations hire me to give keynote speeches, 1-on-1 mentoring, and full-day intensive events for their department heads. One of the primary issues with teams of all types is the personalities all have their own opinions. And, of course, humans are selfish by nature. Any organization that is not utilizing third-party mentorship is limiting its success. Why? Because for a team to function optimally, everyone has to be on the same page. It takes fresh eyes and intentional thought exercises in order to do so. When a group thinks about something the same way, they start acting as one. This leads to the right habits and results. Everyone wins. If this doesn't take place, you won't have a team. You have a bunch of individuals complaining about how they think something should be done. Division is created and success is limited. Look no further than sports. You have these "dream teams" created with a bunch of overpaid superstars. Yet, they rarely win the championship. It's not the collection of talent that matters. It's how the collection of talent operates as a team. The right thoughts, actions, and habits have to be in place and the results will follow.

It's been said the dream is free but the journey isn't. The journey takes time, goes through cycles of ups and downs, and it's completely worth it when done right. Expect these 5 stages and you will be fully prepared when they come because our expectations plus our tolerations lead to our destinations!

For more advice on how you can master the 5 stages of success, join my webinar on Tuesday, September 19th at 3:00 pm ET.

Register Today
Logan Stout

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Keynote Speaker and Author

Logan Stout is a serial entrepreneur, the bestselling author of Grit Factor: 15 Attributes to Doing Life Better, a keynote speaker and mentor. His businesses have generated billions of dollars in revenue and his wisdom and advice have been endorsed by the likes of Troy Aikman, Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John. Connect with Logan at

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