“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”
So said Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, but a few simple disciplines, practiced or not, overstates simplicity and grossly understates the complex nature of human behavior. It is as if successful people achieve simply by performing a list of personality traits or checking-off enumerated action items on a daily list of “to do’s”. If we could just extrapolate those recurring behaviors that are fundamental to all successful people into an algorithm or formula, than we would have created the ultimate, failure killing, silver bullet. Obviously Jim Rohn, from his earliest days of a Sears Roebuck Clerk, knew it was not that simple. As an accomplished business leader and successful motivational speaker he came to understand that his success and the likelihood of others succeeding was significantly impacted by the continuous practice of a relative few personal behaviors and personality traits. But “silver bullets” are a myth and, much like “luck”, a figment of the imaginations of those who have yet to achieve their personal success. Some simple research will uncover anywhere from six to thirty personal characteristics or personality traits that, if practiced, will lead to success. So why are so many, so fortunate to have achieved success? What personal attributes have resulted in their being so accomplished?
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” – Abraham Lincoln
First and foremost, the road to success whether in service to others, personal relationships or financial achievement, begins as a personal choice. The one fundamental reason why so many from the ranks of the disadvantaged and underprivileged have achieved success is rooted in a moment when they made a personal choice to create a different reality for their future. All things good and evil begin with the taking of personal responsibility. Out of the gate successful people realize that they alone are ultimately responsible for their accomplishments – or failures.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney
Successful people don’t wait for life to happen to them. They set forth a plan of measurable goals and objectives and set into place actions that gravitate towards accomplishing those goals. Successful people understand that nothing happens by accident. That achievement is an environment chocked full of actions and reactions and those who fail to succeed at anything, do so by getting stuck in the conversation. Success begins and ends with calculating risk, making decisive decisions, moving forward by learning from mistakes and vowing to never waste time and effort in looking back in regret.
“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
Successful people are inquisitive, for them learning never stops. Most understand they don’t possess all the secrets to achievement. For them learning is perpetual and lifelong in duration. Always self-aware and in-tune with their abilities and limitations, they seek out those who compliment their vulnerabilities and talents. They know that often the most profound source of achievement is founded in others experience, borrowed, enhanced and presented with renewed effort. Successful people are practiced communicators dedicated first to listening and then to learning from others who have gone before them.
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele
A recent study found that 77 percent of successful people reported growing up in middle-class families or poverty. Most didn’t inherit their money it came as the result of hard work, long hours, personal sacrifice, and significant effort. Complementing this, successful people bring an elevated sense of enthusiasm and passion to their job. They love what they are doing and it presents an aura of excitement and self-confidence to those around them.
“Never, never, never give up.” -Winston Churchill
Perhaps the single most common and prevailing trait of successful people is perseverance. Often synonymous with doggedness, steadfastness, persistence and tenacity, it implies resolute and unyielding commitment to a course of action. In the face of numerous challenges and doubters, the most successful people chose a course of action that often requires questioning of original assumptions, applying the art of knowing when to take two steps back to achieve one advantageous step forward, and that the realization of accomplishment sometimes results in the journey to be roundabout and not linear. For the achiever, no hurdle is too high to jump and no road block is too broad to circumvent around in the quest for success.
Defined in different forms and by different people success can manifest as personal fulfillment, relationships, financial attainment or social achievement. There is no “magic bullet” to achieving success in an endeavor, but there is path, a journey taken by others and laid out before all of the willing to follow.