Too many people die at 20 and are buried at 80. Too many people coast through life, never manifesting their potential and using only a fraction of their personal talents.

According to the latest scientific research, the average person uses only 1/100th of 1% of their brainpower over the course of their lives.

While respected researcher Ivan Yefremov has confirmed that “we could, without difficulty, learn 40 languages, memorize a set of encyclopedias from A to Z and complete the required courses of dozens of colleges.” And yet most people become creatures of complacency, doing the same things, in the same way, with the same people, every day.

Here are 9 powerful lessons to consider for getting the best from yourself and manifesting the fullness of the potential for excellence that lies within you:

1. Define a Higher Reality – The most successful people in business are “possibilitarians”. They make the impossible probable by thinking better thoughts than others and constantly visualizing a larger future.

Make the time to think creatively and dream of ways to grow your business and enrich your personal life. Go to educational seminars, expose yourself to richer information and stay open to new ideas.

2. Surround Yourself with the Best – You are a product of your environment. The Principle of Association says that who you will be 5 years from now comes down to two primary influences: the people you associate with and the books you read.

Make sure both are first rate. Surround yourself with people who are moving forward, men and women who are excited and passionate about the changing business world we live within.

Form a MasterMind alliance of other salespeople who are creative and successful and meet weekly over the new year to brainstorm new ways to multiply your business victories.

Also, read the biographies of the people you admire and learn from their lives. You can get deeply into the minds of the world’s greatest thinkers simply by walking into a library.

3. Live Today – Bring a greater sense of urgency to your days. Too many people squander their time worrying about past failures or future challenges.

Yet, all too often, the fears of the future never materialize. As Mark Twain observed: “I’ve had a lot of trouble in my life, some of which actually happened.”

Live every day fully. The past is history and the future is but a dream. This day is all you have. Try new things, take more chances, think bigger thoughts. The results will speak for themselves.

4. Raise Your Standards – Eye doctors use the term “Amblyopia” to describe the phenomenon that occurs when the healthy eye of a young child, after being covered by a patch, loses its ability to see.

People who spend their days working within a small zone of comfort also suffer from their own form of Amblyopia. By living their lives with blinders on, they have lost their natural ability to see the boundless opportunities presented by this Age of Knowledge.

They have lost their vision and grow content with mediocrity. Unfortunately, the only path to a satisfying life is through excellence and initiative.

Raise your standards for the year ahead. Demand more of yourself and push yourself to try things you may have thought you could never do. The best way to conquer fear is to meet it head on.

5. Go the Extra Mile – One of the best strategies for business success is to “under promise and over deliver.” This simple philosophy will create a core of “True Believers” within your customer base who will generate tremendous word of mouth advertising for your business.

Ask your customers what they expect from you in terms of service and then exceed their expectations. And do the same in your personal life. Read for 30 minutes a day, no matter how busy you are, since new ideas are the commodity of success, in these information-crazed times.

Also work hard since industry always delivers its rewards. And constantly be improving your self since leadership always begins within.

6. Focus Your Energy – The great sage Confucius said: “Man who chases two rabbits catches neither.”

One of the timeless principles of success, is also one of the simplest: Focus your energies on the things that count. As “The person who tries to do everything ends up doing nothing. The real secret to getting things done lies in knowing what needs to be left undone.”

Concentrate your time on only those high-leverage activities that will lead you to your stated goals. If an activity is not linked to one of your strategic objectives, have the self-discipline to “just say no.” Your productivity and achievement levels will soar.

7. Be a Motivational Leader – Peak performers are people-centered. They understand that by helping people get what they want, they will help you get what you want.

Tirelessly ask those in your network of contacts: “How can I help you reach your goals?”

Be of constant service to your customers, to your friends and to your community. Inspire others by your example and keep the promises you make. You might be surprised by the endless opportunities that are certain to come your way.

8. Be the Change – We are swimming in a sea of change. There has been more new information developed over the past 30 years than in the previous 5000.

Technology is changing at a breakneck pace, the sociopolitical world has been transformed and even our workplaces and work styles, are far different than they were just a few years ago.

So what can we do to not only survive in this new information economy but thrive?

My answer is to “Be the change”. One day Mahatma Gandhi was asked by one of his followers how to change the attitudes of others. Gandhi thought for a while and then replied with a knowing smile: “Be the change.” Embrace change as a business tool.

Let go of that “bunker mentality” and be a part of the changing world around you. Master technology, surf the Net, take courses and start to see change for what it really is: an opportunity to take your business and your life to a whole new level of effectiveness.

9. Master The Action Habit – “Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do,” wrote the German philosopher Goethe

Top performers understand that lasting success is a numbers game: The more action you take, the more results you reap. Take cold calling for example. The salesperson who makes one hundred calls a day is certain to close more deals than the one who only makes 50.

Get good at taking action. If you learn a new marketing strategy or a new stress reduction tactic, apply it immediately before “The Law of Diminishing Intent” takes hold and your desire starts to fade.

If most people effectively implement even half of the ideas that have graced their minds over the years, they would be successful beyond their dreams. The problem is that most people simply do not act on what they know. Don’t let that happen to you.

– Robin S. Sharma