What Really Makes People Successful

There are countless articles, and books, available upon success and different kinds of success stories. We have all seen people succeed, in different kinds of settings.  All successful people, including their stories, share a number of common factors.  

One of the most important factors in succeeding is taking action. Yes. Successful people are active. Active does not equal to running around like a headless chicken. Successful people take action instead of just thinking about it. Say, for example, that you want to learn how to speak Chinese fluently (just like Mark Zuckerberg). What do you do? You take action. There are many ways of learning a new language, but it definitely always requires taking action. Mastering a language requires learning, practicing, and using the language. Or, if you want to write a book – the book won´t finish by itself. You need to take action, and start writing. Of course writing a book is much more than just writing – you need to be well-organized, capable of planning a writing process, having a common thread in order to create a good story. In addition, you need to understand something about marketing, and commercializing your book (unless you are writing a book only for yourself). Of course, if you do not have any marketing skills, you may need some help with it. Activity is the key word. No action = no results.

This leads us to the next quality of someone very successful.

FOCUS. Successful people are well focused, and they know how to focus. We all know how important it is for athletes to focus on their performance e.g. before an important competition. Well, actually athletes need to focus at all times, since they are training a lot – and they need to live accordingly, including what they consume, how they sleep, who they spend time with. 

And yes, here we come to the next point: Successful people choose how they spend their time, and with whom. Of course we cannot always choose who we work with etc., but basically there is a possibility of selecting who we spend time with when not working. Or, choosing who we work with if we are self-employed, or running our own business. In fact, we become like the closest people to us, and those we spend most time with. This is also one reason for why people often go apart when the other person starts changing to an extent that no longer allows them to continue on the same “level”. Unless the other person can adjust to that, and there is simultaneous growth in both. In this sense, weak links are often regarded more important for example in job search. Although friends and family may help us find new possibilities, they very often do not want us to change, to move, or to become different from what we are today. 

Succeeding also requires being capable of stepping out of one´s comfort zone. I constantly read about people´s problems stepping out of the comfort zone, behind which often is fear (of change). In fact, just last week I read somewhere that only 2 % of all people regularly step out of their comfort zone. The rest likes to enjoy the status quo, due to various reasons. Of course we are all different, but stretching one´s limits every now and then is not harmful. An interesting article, “6 Ways Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone Is Critical to Success”, was published in Forbes earlier this year (Caprino, K. 21.5.2014). 

Having confidence in one self is also extremely important in succeeding. If no one else believes in you, or cheers you up, you need to be your own best friend, motivator, success coach. In fact, motivation starts from within us. It can only be triggered by someone else, e.g. through inspiration and support. But we need to confide in ourselves in order to succeed. Other people may, in fact, sometimes show feelings of fear towards our success, which makes it even more important to be able to stay strong even in tough times. If you truly want to succeed, you won´t let criticism, jealousy or other fearful actions let you down. Constructive criticism is always at place, but if someone constantly criticizes you it may be because they are fearful of something. Don´t let anyone turn you down. If you don´t have a personal (success) coach – make sure to be the cheerleader of you own life, and career.  

Productivity is something all successful people possess, which relates back to being capable of taking action. Successful people do not hesitate – they take action – and they produce. Productivity usually increases with experience, but if you are successful in creating something new (think about Albert Einstein for example, or Thomas Edison), it often takes more trials and errors before the actual breakthrough. You just need to keep going, and trying.

Embracing failure. Admitted – none of us enjoys failure, but it is a crucial part of success. If you give up after every single failure, you are not succeeding. Being willing to succeed requires the ability of embracing failures as well. Failure makes us develop and grow. When we fail, we learn from it, and try even harder, or in a different way, after failing. 

Success also demands the capability of long-term planning. If you want to succeed, you need to be able to plan ahead, let´s say for the next five years ahead. Start by estimating where you want to be in five years, and then make a plan for how to get there. Just remember – always plan with room for adjustments, and possible drawbacks.

Finally: Other people do not always need to understand you. Those who need to understand will do so, and the rest does not matter. What matters is you understanding yourself.

“The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way”.

Robert Kiyosaki


Taking Action Rather Than Procrastinating

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world”.

(Joel A. Barker)

Any kind of change requires activity and action. Be it in our personal lives or in business. I have learned, through personal experiences, and through observation of other people and companies, that a fear of making the wrong decisions leads into inactivity, which in turn leads to increased inactivity and there we are – in a vicious circle. 

I have written about the influence from external events, such as the news that are brought into our consciousness every day through various media channels. Experience has taught me that listening to news, in general, can have a huge impact upon the decisions that I am willing to make regarding both my private life, and also regarding business decisions. 

In the world of investments, investor´s actions are often referred to as actions based on mass psychology. When hearing bad news about a certain economy/market, or about a specific company, many investors react quickly based upon that information. Some may react e.g. by selling all stocks of that specific region/company. Others, called contrarian investors, go against prevailing market trends by buying poorly performing assets, as opposed to “traditional” investors.

Keeping a cold head in any kind of situation is important. Be it in personal life decisions, in business practices, in investing or whatever. The world is full of temptations, but also full of what we could call propaganda. The word propaganda has a very negative echo, but any intelligent person knows how important it is to question everything one reads, hears, and experiences. I´m not saying that one should not trust anything; however, questioning sources of information, and staying objective, is healthy. One way of questioning and staying objective is to be very selective regarding the sources of information that we use in our everyday lives. Taking some distance in regard to e.g. news and media can sometimes prove to be an efficient way of getting in touch with one´s inner guide: the intuition. 

Many people have lost the touch with their intuition, because they are always affected by external distractions, be it news, media, other people, friends, family etc. Taking some distance and being selective is a good way of finding back to listening to our intuition, since it rarely mistakes. How you react to something, and how you feel about something rarely lies to you. 

Sometimes reflecting upon various things is a positive thing to do, but mostly procrastination leads to an increased difficulty in decision-making. This is where mass psychology has a huge influence: if, let´s say in a certain market, the economy has been in recession for years, it easily leads to even worse decision-making, or no decision-making at all. Investments are being cut down; companies are dismissing employees, which lead to decreased consumption and so on. 

Markets are always turbulent, if we let them be. Media is capable of bringing negative news into daylight, but smart entrepreneurs know that there always is a demand for their services/products, and that there always is a market for those who are ready to take action, create new demand and push their services/products to consumers. This, in turn, requires the ability and willingness to hire the right people to help the company in succeeding – people (employees/consultants) who believe in the product and who know how to generate income for them and for the enterprise. 

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy”.

(Dale Carnegie)