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Are You Successful or Unsuccessful?

The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone

Are you successful or unsuccessful? Sometimes there are degrees and shades of gray when trying to answer this question as a music educator. In this post we talk about what it means to be truly successful based on Grant Cardone’s book “The 10X Rule, The Only Difference Between Success and Failure.” Although this book was not originally created for music educators, it makes some tremendously motivating points that can certainly aid in growth oriented teachers, students and really anyone.

I discovered Mr. Cardone’s book “The10X Rule” just before the pandemic began and loved it so much I bought the physical book, audio book and searched for his other books to learn more. Although we are only going to touch on a sliver of how the information found in this book can help music educators grow professionally, I highly recommend checking it out.

What is the 10X Rule?

If you made it this far in this post you are probably asking yourself, “What exactly is the 10X Rule” and how does it pertain to me as a music educator? The simple answer is it is a strategy to get you the greatest amount of whatever you desire for your music program, professional growth or personal interests. This includes but is not limited to general success, growth, and recognition for your band, orchestra, choir or any music program you direct.

Seems too good to be true, right? Well consider this… Grant Cardone’s 10X Rule is based on the conceptual understanding of how much effort and thought are required to get anything done successfully. Think about this, we all want to be successful. But have you ever underestimated what sort of effort it truly took to be labeled undeniably successful? Now take this moment to dare yourself to dream at levels you currently consider unimaginable. Now lets begin…

Put Simply

Put simply, the concept of the 10X Rule shines when you put in 10 times the effort at the same task that everyone else in your field does? Now ask yourself, when was the last time you put 10 times the effort in recruiting, score study, lesson planning, classroom aesthetics, or even relationship building than your fellow music educator?

The 10X Rule can be achieved by every music educator new and experienced. Is it a lot of work? Absolutely. It is a mindset that requires you, the music educator, to think and act avidly different than you had before. You need an open-mind, greater educational acceleration and lots of passionate and actionable horsepower.

Mistakes People Make

There are a series of mistakes that Grant Cardone says that people make when trying to make a 10X commitment to their programs, craft and professional execution. These include:

  1. Mistargeting: This is scenario of setting musical objectives that are too low. As a result, they don’t allow for enough optimal motivation and potential.
  2. Severe Underestimation: As you may have guessed, this is when you inadequately plan for resources, actions, energy or even money in what you want to accomplish.
  3. Too much time competing and not enough time dominating: This is often done as a result of not making the 10 times more effort required to accomplish a task.
  4. Underestimating the amount of adversity people will need to overcome: This adversity should be expected when expecting to achieve results that are 10 times greater than the societal standard. 

Remember the music educator who limits his or her success will limit what he or she will do to create it and keep it.

Making Mistakes

Why 10X Effort is Vital

It is absolutely necessary that to occupy a reputation of success and domination if you want to keep it. This is where 10X effort comes in. As you continue to give 10X effort to your program you must increase your efforts, not your excuses.

When people treat success as as being “optional” they often don’t create it. As a result, this also the reason why so many people don’t live to their full potential. Remember that you must consider it your duty to live up to your potential, otherwise you won’t.

Successful or Unsuccessful?

What are factors that lead to a successful career or even an unsuccessful one? Sometimes people view dominating professionals in their field as being “lucky.” However, if you really research what makes these people successful you will learn that more than likely you will find that the harder these people work, the luckier they get. This success stems from earlier actions no matter how insignificant the action seems.
The following are traits that successful 10X music educators have: 

1. Have a “Can Do” Attitude

This is the attitude that no matter what, it can be done. Perform at a national conference. It can be done. Build your program membership into the triple digits. It can be done. Publish a professional music education article or book. It can be done. People that maintain this “can do” attitude can accomplish the seemingly impossible. 
Consider helping your staff, co-workers or musical community by drilling this mentality into them. Make this the norm and excuses will start to dissipate.

2. Believe That “I Will Figure It Out”

Similarly to the “Can Do” attitude, the “I Will Figure It Out” attitude revolves around the individual professional. In this situation, the music educator is looking to be responsible by solving problems. This mentality works out particularly well when you, the problem solver, don’t know how to solve the problem right out the gate. However, you have the confidence that you will figure it out with your massive efforts.
Be sure to communicate with yourself and others that you are willing to do whatever is necessary to solve the problem. Research and extra effort is required however, rest assured that you are being honest with others and solution will be reached.

3. Focus on Opportunity

Successful people see all situations as opportunities. When you focus on opportunity you will see the benefits of all situations rather than the difficulties and the annoyances of exercising the extra effort. Say for instance you have a beginning trumpet player that has tried time and time again to play third space “C” and still fails. Consider having him play treble clef baritone. You may find that the student plays with a beautiful sound on the baritone and has no immediate range issues. It is a win-win situation because now you have just lifted up the child’s confidence and you have just added to your small low brass section.
Remember the success is measured here by overcoming challenges. If you continue to learn to utilize hidden opportunities, you’ll continually come out on top.
Hidden Opportunities

4. Love Challenges

Many people shy away from challenges. Someone who lives and breathes the 10X mentality loves challenges. In fact highly successful individuals are invigorated by challenges. When people get overwhelmed, Grant Cardone believes that it is the result of never taking enough action to generate a winning result.
Challenges sharpen the skills of successful music educators and inadvertently gets passed on, in one form or an other, to students and staff. Unfortunately, those that don’t embrace challenges tend to treat them as loss in their minds. In contrast, those that practice the approach of loving challenges often get excited when new ones are presented.

5. Seek to Solve Problems

A highly motivated music educator will find pleasure in the pursuit of solving problems. This is because these people know that every problem is universal in some way. Consider this idea, businesses will seek out problems that products that they sell can solve. Thus greater financial success. For music educators, or really anyone, try to seek out a problem and then solve the problem. As a result of solution you will be rewarded in some form or an other. Ultimately, the greater number people the solution helps the greater the success will be for you.
Problem Solving

6. Persist Until Successful

Having the skill to persist when all is gloomy and unpromising is a trait common to those that are successful. This trait is absolutely necessary to make unimaginable dreams come true. Music educators that have this grit and sense of persistence know that they will confront resistance. 
Persistence is a great way to multiple the success of any individual or music program. Competitors will eventually give up and you and your program will be viewed on a short list of the most successful. As a result of this 10X concept many times the resistance, that served as a roadblock, will start to dissipate and eventually fail to exist. 

7. Take Risks

Many of us are taught to play it safe and there is some wisdom behind that. However, when you always play it safe you will always achieve safe results – never “extra” ordinary results. If you are truly going to live with your commitment to meet your full potential as a music educator you must occasionally take risks. I am not saying to do anything illegal or not professional but rather push your music program to make a big splash.
Put it all out there. Rather than maintaining a safe status quo, push to make your success extraordinary. It can be scary to take on risks alone so get your students, families, administration and community on board. Take the risk together to create a successful musical program dynasty.
Take risks

8. Be Unreasonable

It took me a moment to totally digest this concept of what it means to be truly successful. Grant Cardone refers to “being unreasonable” as the act without rational consideration and not in accordance with practical realities. 
My interpretation of this concept means that successful people must act, even without reason at times. To reach true success you cannot base all actions on certain realities or norms because they create barriers. Ultimately, these barriers will make it “impossible” to reach certain levels of success. Sometimes you have to be “unreasonable” to make a positive change and break through these barriers.

9. Be Dangerous

As young people we have often found that our parents try to keep us safe. In essence “Be Careful” is the theme to our younger years. However consider that the last time you were hurt, someone probably someone told you to be careful. This was probably never communicated at the 10X level. 
In a world that requires 10X levels of massive action you must move caution to the side. I am not ever saying to put children or adults in harmful situations rather take risks that expand the success potential of your program. And understand that rejection, miscues and embarrassment are all possible and likely in some form or an other. Get past this. Be dangerous. Be victorious.
Be Victorious

10. Create Wealth

In education we generally don’t consider financial wealth as a major concern unless you are fundraising to meet an educational opportunity. Rather, in this case, consider creating wealth through the generation of new ideas, musical products, services and solutions. Those that are truly wealthy realize they are not bound by shortages. Share this wealth and success with your students, families, school and community to motivate growth to greater heights.

11. Readily Take Action

By this point you may have noticed the message that Grant Cardone is trying to make is to take unbelievable amounts of action. Actionable items can be planning, mentoring, purposeful interactions, practicing and so much more. Ultimately successful people understand that their future achievements rely on investible actions that will pay off in the future – usually not in the immediate present time. 
Massive action takes personal toughness and can tell you a lot about a person’s character. This habit and skill is not something that someone naturally has but rather it is a trait that must be developed. Think about it as the opposite of “laziness.” Laziness is a word that I continue to work to remove from my vocabulary and seek to replace it with purposeful action.

12. Always Say “Yes”

As an experienced music educator I have had challenges with the topic of saying yes and balancing a family life. If you eagerly want to achieve success, you must always say yes. This is because to engage in massive action and take advantage of opportunities, you must commit to every opportunity you can. 
Don’t get me wrong my family comes first and I make the time with them in meaningful and purposeful ways. However, as a professional music educator with the drive to make the most with my professional time, I will say yes to everything I can as long as it makes professional sense.
Say Yes

13. Habitually Commit

Unsuccessful music educators rarely commit. Truly successful ones are “all in.” Sadly, the idea of commitment falls short with far too many people. Truly devoting yourself to a program, an audition or event committee means that there is no backing out. It is like when you are in mid air as you dive into a  pool of water. Once you are there, there is no backing out!
When working with student leadership I often prefer students who fully commit to a task, or project, rather than one that may have certain credentials. The reason being is that the committed person is pledging him or herself to a position, action or issue.

14. Go All The Way

“Going all the way” refers to being able to see something through to the end and experience the rewards that the workplace has to offer. Only till all the work and action items are complete can the task actually be considered done. Successful professionals don’t create excuses and don’t settle for anything less.
Going all the way

15. Focus on “Now”

The only two times that you can impact are now and later. There is no going back in time to the past. The unsuccessful tend to spend their time reflecting on the past too much and procrastinate often. Those individuals that take action “now” influence their future successes.
The idea of the “10X Rule” requires people to take immediate and massive action by creating goals and putting systems into place to meet those goals. If you want to be successful every second of action is precious. Don’t over analyze and worry, these are wasted moments rather you should take action and find solutions “now.”

16. Demonstrate Courage

Courage is the state of mind that people experience when they face a situation of danger despite the fear associated with it. Courage requires some sort of hardship. Every profession requires a level of courage to be successful. 
Often the more a music educator, or other professional, faces something that is scary and “hard-to-do” the fear factor becomes less. Onlookers observe this “courage” and become more gracious and appreciative of your efforts. As a result, you become more confident as a professional. And who doesn’t want to be part of an organization that has confident leader?

17. Embrace Change

Successful people are not afraid to embrace change. This is generally the opposite for those who are unsuccessful. Please note that if a technique or process works for you, then continue to use it. However, more importantly, if something isn’t working for you then embrace change and transform your scenario into one that is successful.
Successful music educators look at how the world of the music landscape is changing. Look toward these shifts in the profession and apply how they might help your operations and use them to help grow your program to your advantage.

18. Determine and Take The Right Approach

The unsuccessful focus more on the “hard work” aspect of the profession. In contrast the successful quantify and scale the approaches that work to meet their goals. Despite both perspectives of the job requiring hard work the successful determine how to work “smart.” By doing this they can handle situations by using the right methodology until they succeed. In contrast the unsuccessful never take the effort or time to improve the approach to improve their current scenario.

19. Break Traditional Ideas

The most successful people and programs in the world break the traditional norms and redefine what it is to be successful in a discipline. Examples of this can be found in companies such as Facebook, Apple, and Google. 
Music programs across the world have just this. The music educators who design the future with forward thinking are called “thought leaders.” These individuals are able to function using traditional frameworks however, manage to push beyond traditional results using unconventional means.

20. Be Goal Oriented

You hear leaders say have a goal. This is a desirable objective which is something that is yet to be achieved. Great leaders maintain a focus on the goal target rather than the program. It is also important understand that if you don’t stay focused on your goals then you may inadvertently achieve the goals of someone else. 
Goals are incredibly important however, they must be paired with systems and processes that focus on meeting your goals.  Without the right system, the goal is but an unachievable fantasy.

21. Be On a Mission

The unsuccessful want to get from point A to point B. Often they think about what is needed to get a job. Once the job is obtained it is more of a process of meeting a standard to get paid. In contrast, the successful approach their activities as more of a mission. Successful people certainly get paid but their vision goes far beyond the “job” requirements.
These successful people are innovators that want to improve things so that they are bigger and better. There is always a massive target goals that require massive amounts of action. Only by adopting this attitude will you successfully achieve your unimaginable dream.

22. Have a High Level of Motivation

Practicing motivational strategies with students is a common practice for successful music educators. This is the act, or state, of being stimulated toward taking action. To meet lofty goals you and your students need to be motivated. this means that you need to be stimulated, excited and driven to take action.
The unsuccessful often lack motivation and can be found wandering with a lack of clarity or purpose. You may ask, How do I keep myself or students motivated?” The best way to do this is to continue to create reasons to keep showing up. Consider looking for things that are just out of reach. These could be material or immaterial things in nature such as things that other people in the profession have achieved or accomplished. Having a high level of motivation gives you drive into a positively progressive direction.

23. Be Interested in Results

Everyone loves winning. The successful value the end results more than anything. In contrast, the unsuccessful value the time needed to spend at work to get results from their attempts. Unless you become obsessed with the end results of your goals you will always fall short. Positive end results are always what successful musicians strive to achieve regardless of their problems and challenges. 
End Results

24. Have Big Goals and Dreams

The courageously successful set big goals and dreams. Typically these people’s goals are unrealistic to the average person to envision. In our current world we value being average and meeting the standardized amount of success. If you use the 10X philosophy you will meet goals and achieve dreams that go far beyond the average. However, if you never dream big then you are not living to your true potential.

25. Create Your Own Reality

Being a great visionary requires you to be able to see what a concept of success means to you. Many times a true leader cannot operate in the reality of someone else otherwise you will only see the “leftovers” of other people’s successes. 
Rather than setting boundaries from the beginning of your ventures imagine taking the steps needed to achieve the most ideal outcomes. Remember that reality is what you make of it. Other people may not see it at first but the next reality is only as far away as the person who creates it.

26. Commit First – Figure Out Later

This is a trait of the 10X process. Consider this… The unsuccessful often assume that they have to  figure out everything before they commit. In the unlikely chance that the unsuccessful do get everything worked out before they commit, often the opportunity has come and gone.
Committing first means that you are “all in” and have pledged to figure out all the details in the process. This allows music programs to dominate against competitors, become trend setters and even develop growth tactics that can out maneuver others who hesitate. Remember it is not always the most talented who win the race but rather the ones who are the most committed to the cause.
Win the race

27. Be Highly Ethical

Sometimes people associate successful people with going to jail. This should never be a measurement of success. In fact, cheating and being found guilty should be a measurement that disqualifies someone  from ever being truly successful. 
Being ethical applies to everyone to follow society’s rules. That is all. Hard work, massive action and being creative is part of the 10X way, 100% legal and professionally appropriate.
Some say that they will do anything to get a desired result. The test of character comes from when ethics is challenged and the individual has to make a choice. 

28. Be Interested in the Group

Be interested in the group you are apart of. Even if you are a top performer – if the group around you is suffering and underperforming it will eventually affect you too. As an individual within a group it is absolutely necessary to care about the group’s mental, physical and psychological health.

29. Be Dedicated to Continuous Learning

They say that the average CEO makes 319 times the amount of money the average person does. The research also identifies that these professionals read, on average, 60 books per year versus the average person who barely reads one book. 
This stat is staggering and supports the idea that successful people always focus on continual learning. There is also a strong correlation to those who continue to learn and develop professionally to rising incomes as opposed the average person. 

30. Be Uncomfortable

It is okey to be uncomfortable at times. Successful people at one point or an other are willing to put themselves in this sort of situations to meet their objectives. In contrast, the unsuccessful seek comfort with all their decisions. It always feels good to deal with comfortable scenarios however, true professional growth comes with expanding your comfort zone.
Comfort Zone

31. “Reach Up” in Relationships

Great leaders often surround themselves with people that are talented, smart and who possess traits that they aspire to be like. The habit of “reaching up” in relationships refers to this idea that you, as the leader, are connected to those that better network than you, are better educated than you and are even more successful than you.
The idea behind this trait is that these people have much more to share with you than your peers that may seem to be equal to you in status. These professionals that you “reach up’ to can influence the rate to which you achieve your goals and help you to become a better version of yourself that you aspire to be.

32. Be Disciplined

To be truly successful you have to be disciplined in all areas of life. There is no compromising in this area of effort and work. This 10X concept of discipline is the orderly and prescribed conduct that will get you what you want for your music program, professionally and for your home life.
The key to using discipline effectively is to determine the order of steps and systems that work, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Determine what works and what does not. Get rid of the systems that do not work and fine tune the ones that do. Use these systems religiously and discipline both you and your group until success is achieved on a consistent basis.


In conclusion, music educators experience all sorts of successes and failures throughout their careers. This is part of the learning process. For those who want to be truly successful it is highly beneficial to understand the differences between what success and failure look like. The 10 X Rule by Grant Cardone provides an excellent guide to gaining clarity on the subject of success and understanding what it takes to dominate in the music education or any other space you seek to grow in.


Cardone, G. (2011). The 10x rule: The only difference between success and failure. Wiley.

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