Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Everybody wants to be successful, yet we all have a different perception of what success looks like: a fit and healthy body, strong relationships with loved ones or a well-respected career, for example. However, despite having a general idea of what we want from life and where we would like to be, it can at times appear impossible to obtain the success we desire.
This may be in part because our culture has become so focused on instant gratification, it has limited our ability to demonstrate patience and persistence during challenging times. During times like these, it is easy for us to follow the path of least resistance and become reliant on what Jeff Olson, author of ‘The Slight Edge’ terms ‘Quantum Leap Results’- the quick fixes and shortcuts readily available at our fingertips.
In doing this, it is likely that we will become dismayed when things don’t quite go according to plan and give up. Olson suggests instead recognising that no genuine success is instant and that success is only possible when we take responsibility for our life outcomes.
The five traits successful people demonstrate are:
1. They use their passion as a driving force
When people are passionate about what they do, they are aware of their talents and draw upon them as fuel. This allows them to maintain a steady focus on achieving the task at hand with unwavering optimism that it can (and will) be achieved. In contrast, if people lack passion, tasks are undertaken under obligation or pressure and quitting is more likely to present itself as a viable option. Without passion, success appears an unlikely outcome, but with it, anything is possible.
Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures.
~ Joseph Campbell
2. They set accomplishable goals
Although passion plays a crucial role in success, setting unrealistic expectations can have a self-limiting effect. If people set unrealistic expectations of themselves and fail to deliver, they are more likely to attribute their failure to their lack of ability, when it is often just that they were a little too naive or that the task was a little too ambitious. Successful people are realistic when setting goals and know, alongside their strengths, their weaknesses. In knowing this, they can create management plans with consideration to the time and resources available and what they are capable of. This may mean breaking the goal into small hourly/ daily/ weekly tasks and keeping a progress log (on a board or in a diary) to assist them with prioritising and staying on track. Doing this also helps to highlight not only what has been done, but what can be done simply by completing a few additional steps.
3. They persist with their endeavours
When venturing on the road to success, it is inevitable that you will fail at least once. Failure is a natural (and necessary) part of the process- there’s a reason why the phrase “if at first, you don’t succeed, try, try, try again” is so popularly used! The world’s most recognised ‘successful’ people have all, at some point in their lives, failed. The difference between them and those who have succumbed to feelings of failure is that they examined the factors that contributed to the failure and used them to inform their next plan of action. They understand it is not what happens to them, but how they respond to what happens to them that is important in their success.
Although it can help to seek guidance and constructive criticism from others, successful people, by asking questions such as “what did I do that didn’t work?” and “what can I do differently next time?”, Can devise creative solutions and develop their problem-solving abilities themselves. In times of doubt, successful people are also better able to restore their sense of purpose by remembering why they started striving towards their goal in the first place and envisioning their desired outcome for motivation.
Too often people procrastinate, stop, or outright quit just before things are about to get better, inevitably resulting in their failure to achieve goals. By taking responsibility for their failures and persisting through adversity, they too could be able to achieve success.
4. They are adaptable
Many environments today require people to be adaptable. Take, for example, the changing nature of the workforce. What was once a role that required a person to focus solely on one area has now become a role that requires that same person to demonstrate a multitude of skills and adjust to new changes and challenges. Successful people recognise this and, to increase their chances of success, are enthusiastic about opportunities to learn and get ahead. They are committed to being lifelong learners and recognise the learning process is continual in that there are always ways in which to self-develop. This gives them not only a competitive advantage but also a positive view towards the future.
5. They have a positive self-image
On your way to success, there may be people who doubt you and attempt to hold you back. Almost everyone has a story about someone who told them they couldn’t achieve something. The way that we react to being told this will depend on our sense of self. Whereas someone with a negative self-image will steer towards internalising this feedback and blame others for their inability to try or stick with things, someone with a positive self-image will deflect this negativity. The successful person is greatly unaffected by what others think of them and does not feel the need to seek approval from others.
Although it is normal to want to be understood and appreciated by others, successful people know their self-worth regardless of this feedback and don’t let others’ fears and doubts paralyse them from moving forward with their goals.
When they do achieve their goals, they also never fail to acknowledge their successes by celebrating. This doesn’t necessarily mean hosting an extravagant house party or buying the latest sports car; it simply means that after finally achieving a goal that has been strived for and worked towards consistently, they can praise their ability to make certain choices that led them to success. After all, success is the sum of a series of well-made choices.
For things to change, we’ve got to change. For things to get better, we’ve got to get better. Mimicking these traits until they become unconscious habits will ensure that we too can achieve the success we deserve.