We all love a success story because it’s uplifting and it makes us see how many possibilities life has to offer. Reading about other's success gives many people the inspiration to aim high and go for it. Becoming successful can happen at any age and sometimes in the most unlikely circumstances. While some success stories seem more natural than others, some buck the trend and achieve success against unfavorable odds.
Just because someone was born with a silver spoon in their mouth or into a prestigious family doesn’t mean that they will automatically be winners. In many cases, success has less to do with intelligence and privilege, and more to do with a strong desire to make the necessary changes and put in the work to reach one's goals. Here are some of the attributes that successful people have going for them, and some are not as obvious as you may think.
You Have the Ability to Work Out What Needs to Change
Knowing what you want in life isn’t as easy as it sounds. People are very good at talking about all the things that they can’t stand and won’t tolerate, with long lists of what makes their blood boil. From having to set the alarm for the same early time every morning to take the same crowded train, and working for the same unappreciative boss, most people don’t have the insight, passion, or inner strength to change it. That’s because it’s much easier to complain about your life than trying to improve it.
Being able to work out what we truly want in life takes a level of intuition, grit, and determination that most people don’t have. Many have settled for the daily grind, without knowing how to take the first step forward to making changes that would truly benefit their happiness and wellbeing. So if you can fathom what you don’t want, and therefore what you ultimately do want, you are already ahead of the game.
Finding Your End Goal Is More Important Than the Actual Journey to Reach It
The “what” is truly more important than the “how”. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But the reality is that most people go through their entire lives accepting the path they are on and never question it. Overthinking and overanalyzing every moment of the “how” will inevitably put hurdles up in front of you that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Questioning yourself and listening to the naysayers along the way will make the uphill walk seem like trying to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Successful people are those that have ascertained exactly what it is they need in their lives – with the hard part done, they can now focus on getting there without hesitation or questioning their decision. The future shines brightly for people who know exactly what it is they want out of life, be it, love, a new career, relocating to another country, or reaching financial and mental contentment.
To Thine Own Self Be True
This phrase is a line from Hamlet, written by William Shakespeare, and it’s an extremely important piece of advice given to a son by his loving father in the play. Simply put, stick to your own principles and beliefs, and don’t be easily swayed by others. It’s very easy to bend to peer pressure at various points in one’s life, and their choices may not be in your best interest. So trust your gut and, if everyone else is turning left, there is nothing wrong with heading right if you truly believe it to be the correct path for you.
Some many successful businessmen and women have been mocked and ridiculed as they worked on their ideas and innovations. How many people do you think told Elon Musk that a self-driving car was a matter of fiction and fantasy? Bet they are not laughing at him now. So, knowing who you are, and what you believe about yourself, is the foundation of many success stories.
Form Habits and Stick to Them
We all know how difficult it is to stick to a New Year’s resolution. We make promises to ourselves and others at the stroke of midnight, vehemently confirming that we will head to the gym four times a week without fail, or will abstain from soda for three months, or that we will simply make our bed each and every morning. It sounds simple enough, yet most gyms are half-empty by the middle of February, and beds are left unmade. Everyone has the best intentions, but doing the same thing on repeat without fail is not as simple as it sounds. It’s easy to fall off the wagon when you’ve had a particularly bad day, or the rain won’t stop and you can’t face going outside for a run.
Successful people will practice the piano every day, or write 2,000 words, or get those 30 press-ups done before they go to work. They are mentally focused and won’t let anything deter them. That’s the sign of someone who has the discipline and strength to get things done, no matter the weather or the mood.
You Don’t Brag or Seek Validation When You Know It’s Not Necessary
People who know they are on the right path don’t ever seek approval or validation for what they are doing. They are not looking for awards or a standing ovation from their peers – that’s not what drives them forward. It’s estimated that Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, makes nearly $150,000 per minute, but he started out sitting at a desk with a homemade Amazon sign, simply selling books. Along the way, he undoubtedly asked for advice and guidance from those he trusted, but he never veered away from his mission. He knew exactly what he wanted to do and nothing was going to stop him. His opinion was the only one that mattered to him and he never shouted about his success.
The insecure people, or the nervous ones on their way up, won’t stop promoting their wins and hiding their failures. Everyone gets to know their business, whether they want to hear about it or not. Normally, the quietest person in a meeting is the person running both the meeting and the multi-million-dollar company.
You Feel Every Emotion
Successful people are self-motivated and everything they do matters, down to the smallest detail. They assess and process each problem, pondering on it for as long as it takes to solve the issue and move forward. They feel everything, and on a higher level than others. Driven, ambitious, focused, and filled with purpose, their emotions are evident. Pacing around at 4 am with ideas buzzing in their heads, struggling to work out how others could possibly be sleeping - that’s a sure sign that creativity and productivity are coursing through their veins.
Before Dwayne Johnson became one of the most successful actors in history, he was a struggling wrestler on a mission to achieve more for himself and those he loved. He sets his alarm for 4.30 am each morning and starts working and thinking several hours before most people have even opened their eyes. There is a reason why he has launched a clothing range, trainers, and his own brand of tequila – his work ethic is unquestionable and he truly cares about every single thing he does, down to the last detail.
Work Hard, but Play Hard Too
It’s all well and good to push yourself to achieve success, but there is only so much one’s mind and body can take before it runs out of steam. Even the most successful CEO needs to put their phone down for a few hours every so often. They need to kick back and relax in order to recharge their batteries. There is no point running on empty for days at a time, and then collapsing in a heap of exhaustion. Knowing how to be as efficient as possible is a skill that takes a while to hone.
It’s all about finding the right balance, and a lot of people burn out on their way to trying to achieve success. Eating right, exercising, listening to music, and spending time away from your project will ultimately help you much more than burning the candle at both ends as you strive to reach a goal that keeps getting further and further away as you run out of steam.
You Say No to the Fun Stuff When It Matters
It’s not possible to work on a life mission to become successful while saying 'yes' to every social engagement and family commitment. Concessions and sacrifices have to be made so that you can focus on the prize, and you must be willing to make those tough choices. Missing out on precious time with friends and family now will make it all worthwhile in the future, and you are perfectly okay with that. Working on the weekend or late into the night isn’t a hardship for you, even when you see photos of the fun that you missed.
Your loved ones may not be so understanding, especially when you repeatedly miss out on important milestone celebrations, but you are unflinching in your determination to succeed and you know that the sacrifices you make now will be worth it in the long run.
You’ve Struggled in the Past and It’s Only Made You More Determined to Succeed
If you examine the past of a now-successful person, you are sure to find a little chink in their armor or a previous setback. Being bullied at school, or having parents that divorced when you were still in diapers are just a few of the common events that can make people a little bit more driven. Knowing hardship or having to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds only serve to motivate a person to strive for more.
So if you have a bit of a chip on your shoulder, or have had your attitude questioned, it’s usually a good thing and not something to try and bury. Use it as a tool to help you along the way. Michael Jordan's attitude was something he never apologized for and it led him and the Chicago Bulls to 6 NBA titles.
You Aren’t Happy, and That’s Not Always a Bad Thing
When a person is seemingly content, they become complacent. What’s the point of seeking a better life if this one is fine? Driven people don’t settle for “fine”, and it’s usually written all over their faces. A person who is comfortable with life is one who won’t ever yearn for more. They will accept and tolerate things that would never be okay for those aiming higher.
So if you are not happy with your current situation, use that feeling of discomfort to get you further in life, and ultimately make you happier too. A successful person will never stop striving to better themselves and the life they have worked hard to achieve. There is no resting on their laurels for people with this mindset. Onwards and upwards.
You Won’t Ever Take a Chill Pill
Telling a serious-looking person to lighten up is like telling an angry person to relax. It’s never a good idea, and will usually have the opposite effect. And there is nothing wrong with being serious – it’s a trait that helps a lot of people to become successful, because if you aren’t taking yourself seriously, then why should others?
There will be plenty of time to chill, relax, and put your feet up once you have achieved your goal, but until then, it’s nose to the grind and full focus. You never see Beyoncé slacking off when she is halfway through recording an album, and you don’t see Chris Hemsworth doing fewer reps in the gym because he wants to chillax. Serious people are inspiring and will never be thrown off course with a suggestion to lighten up.
It’s All on You, and That’s Perfectly Fine
A successful person works without a safety net. Like a brave trapeze artist at a circus, they swing through the air knowing that if they let go of the bar, there is nothing between them and a painful landing. If that isn’t motivation to succeed, we don’t know what is. Having rich parents to bail you out whenever you fail isn’t going to teach you anything, so a successful person has achieved their results by assuming they are well and truly on their own.
Taking complete and utter responsibility for yourself is a sure-fire way to fail and succeed on your own merits and with full accountability. Both Simon Cowell and The Rock became successful when they had a few dollars left to their name. Knowing that it was now or never was all they needed to aim high and come out on top. The Rock even called his production company Seven Bucks so that he would always remember how close to broke he was.
Adequate Just Doesn’t Cut It With You
Successful people have high standards and will not accept second best. If the party isn't fun, they leave after a few minutes, and if the play isn't good, they will head to the exit of the theater without apologizing for disturbing those still watching it. Their time is precious and it won’t be spent unwisely. The same can be said for the company they keep.
Friends and colleagues need to be impressive too. There is no point in being around those who hold you back, either knowingly or otherwise. The company you keep says a lot about your character, and a successful person won’t waste their time and energy on adequate food, entertainment, or friends. A solid circle of friends can be the difference between surviving and succeeding. So if the film is bad, grab your popcorn and go find a better way to spend your time.
It’s Your Passion, and Always Has Been
Some people are born to do certain things with their lives, and they will do everything to make their dreams come true. They might not be where they want to right now, but there is a yearning in the pit of their stomachs to turn their passion into their success.
When you look at Lady Gaga, you can’t imagine her being anything other than a performer. She is not someone who would have ever settled for being a bank clerk or a train driver. She even sings about it in one of her hits – “I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way.” That woman was always going to end up on the stage in front of millions of adoring fans screaming her name. Let your passion become your vocation.
You Don’t and Won’t Conform
Being successful means taking chances and thinking outside the box. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, but you know that you are different. You’ve never looked at a 9-5 Monday to Friday job as a suitable way of living, and it’s the very thing that drives you to try, fail, learn, and try again.
Sylvester Stallone wrote "Rocky," knowing that he should play the starring role. He was an unknown actor with little experience, but he was relentless in his mission to get the studio to take a chance on him. He took a huge pay cut in order to play the role and went on to become the third person in history to be nominated for two Oscars for the same film – one for Best Actor and the other for Best Original Screenplay. He saw in himself what no-one else did and in doing so, he became a real-life rags-to-riches success story. You will find many similar stories about other truly successful people - nothing was going to stop them and they refused to compromise or settle for anything less than their vision.