Success is not random and it’s not luck. There are clear patterns that are obvious in hindsight for people that end up as success stories. It doesn’t matter as much where you start as your behavior and habits determine your destiny. Many rich kids end up broke and many poor kids end up rich, an easy life early can lead to a hard life later just like a difficult youth can lead to success in adulthood.
Looking back we may see that the people we misunderstood in school were on a different path they we were. Some went on to great success and others lost their way. Many focused on family while others focused on their business, money, or career. I believe the below list will remind you of people you have known and their success will make more sense after reading it. This is how they did it, step by step. While everyone’s details and process are different, this is the larger framework of principles to getting to where you want to be.
1. Successful people are super-competitive
“You have competition every day because you set such high standards for yourself that you have to go out every day and live up to that.” – Michael Jordan
They want to win. They want to beat you and all competitors at their game or business. This desire for the trophy, award, money, and score is where the energy comes from to compete. They want to be the best at everything they do. This is the factor that separates the best athletes of all time from the ones that were just happy being millionaires.
Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice are two great examples of this competitive fire that drove them to practice more than anyone, work harder, and never stop improving their game. Their number one goal was to win and they would also do whatever it took to make that happen. Talent is common, the will to win is what makes champions. Success requires a competitive drive to be the best at what you do.
2. Successful people do the hard thinking
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.” – Henry Ford
Winners are always thinking. What few people understand is that the career, business, or industry that a successful person is in is their game. While the masses spend their time thinking about sports, entertainment, and what they can buy next, successful people are thinking about how they can win. They don’t quit thinking at the end of their work day. They are always pondering how to win.
They think about their strategy, their process, the technique they use and how they can win over their competition. They can think in systems and how to create an edge. People underestimate how much work this is to think through solutions for hours everyday. They put in a lot of work thinking smart so they can work smart.
3. Successful people are respected for their abilities
Successful people tend to be respected by their peers, customers, fans, and team mates. Their hard work and discipline earns respect. They may not be liked but they are respected for their abilities and work ethic. It’s a bad sign if someone is not respected and it shows trouble. The odds of a CEO, manager, politician, coach, or athlete surviving in a position is very low if they are not respected by the majority. Being successful in a field is nearly impossible without respect.
4. People that win are obsessed with their goals
To be successful you must first have goals, and then you must do the work to achieve them. Most people end up nowhere in particular in life because they had no specific goals and just went where life took them. Successful people know exactly where they want to go and know what they need to do to get there.
Successful people have a vision of their future and most have written goals for what they want to be. Bruce Lee, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jim Carrey all had specific written goals and achieved them. Telling your subconscious what you want to be in life is a powerful type of mental programming.
5. Successful people are finishers
“The world is filled with people who are good starters. What we need are more good finishers.” – Gary Ryan Blair
People generally love to start new projects, businesses, or games with excitement and hope but few maintain the energy to stay the course and finish strong. The beginning and creative stage can be fun but the ups and downs along with the grind of work causes most people to quit too early.
Most people lack the passion and drive to finish what they start to its completion. The majority of people don’t really fail at what they’re doing they just give up too early before the long-term outcome was even knowable. You will beat the majority of your competition in every field by simply not quitting. The easiest way to fail is to quit, the best way to succeed is to try one more time.
“There are better starters than me but I’m a strong finisher.” – Usain Bolt.
6. Successful people are life-long learners
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none, zero.” – Charlie Munger
Successful people are curious and never stop learning about the world and how it works. They are consumers of knowledge, process, and information. They don’t stop learning when they graduate from school they start learning the things that will really make them successful.
They tend to keep up with technology and trends. Knowledge and information can be an edge if your competitors don’t know it. Connecting the dots in technology and business before anyone else does can make you rich. Knowledge alone isn’t power but using it is.
“The secret to being successful from a trading perspective is to have an indefatigable and an undying and unquenchable thirst for information and knowledge.” – Paul Tudor Jones billionaire hedge fund manager
7. Successful people have a circle of friends at or above their own level
“You’re the average of the five people spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” – Dan Pena
Successful people tend to spend their time with people at or above their own level. Their friends are usually their peers and their mentors are at the level they want to be at one day. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are a good example of this as they were both the richest person in the world at one time.
To be successful you must be careful who you spend your time with, as bad company can corrupt good character and goals. Peer pressure and groupthink can influence behavior more than people know. Your group of friends and even family can make it difficult to hold a mental model of success in your mind. Successful people don’t spend much time with negative people in their life as it wastes their time and energy. Successful people tend to find and belong to a group of like-minded people. They have relationships with people at their level or above.
“Try to never be the smartest person in the room. And, if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people… or find a different room.” – Michael Dell
Success is not an easy journey but worth the cost.