What are the keys to success? Are there some personal traits we can cultivate that will help us achieve success? How much of a role does luck play?
Success means different things to different people: some want wealth, others want to be the best they can be in their field. Some people simply want to be happy. Whatever your definition of success, how can you get there?
No doubt some people are lucky. They stumble upon a great idea, they know the right people, they win a lottery or they’re born wealthy.
However, it’s arguable that our happiness is greater if we feel that we genuinely deserve our success, meaning that we worked hard and overcame significant obstacles to get where we are. Getting something for nothing is not a great recipe for self-respect.
Keys to achieving financial success
While we can’t define success for everyone, a lot of people do think of success in financial terms so let’s focus on that for now.
Here are some likely personal traits that facilitate success:
- Self-belief – the confidence that you have something to offer that can lead to success, a set of skills, expertise or knowledge that can be translated into success.
- Risk taking – willingness to take large steps into the unknown without excessive worry or fear of failing, being prepared to push yourself outside your comfort zone.
- Perseverance – being willing to work hard over a significant period of time and not being easily defeated by setbacks. Like all strengths, this one can become a weakness if you take it so far that you become inflexible or oblivious to failure.
- Adaptability – recognizing the need to change direction and adapt to changing circumstances, being able to learn from mistakes.
- Relationship building – it is much easier to achieve success if you can build and maintain good working relationships with other people and influence them to help you.
- Market sensitivity – developing and maintaining a keen awareness of current trends and being quick to spot emerging opportunities.
- Strategic focus – spending most of your time and effort on a manageable number of ideas and projects, not spreading yourself too thin.
- Measurement – setting goals, tracking your progress and measuring yourself against some successful role models.
- Humility – being confident but not arrogant, realizing that you don’t have all the answers, being willing to learn from others, recognizing that any of your strengths, if overplayed could become weaknesses, seeing the need for balance.
It’s hard to overstate the case for perseverance and hard work. We learn about successful people only after they become successful. But this creates a false impression because we fail to see how many years they worked hard behind the scenes to get where they are. Hard work alone won’t do, however, because you have to be working on something that will really differentiate you from what everyone else has to offer.
This is the importance of being strategic. To maintain a strategic focus and combining this focus with measurement, you should regularly ask yourself whether you are making the best possible use of your time, whether you should be focusing on something more productive. Taking stock of where you have got to, including celebrating success, is essential to maintaining forward momentum.