As a business consultant, author, and college professor, I talk with a lot of people every day. These people come from all walks of life, but they all have one thing in common: they are all looking for the secret code to success. We all want to find that one thing that sets successful people apart from the rest of us.
In my life, I have had the privilege of observing very successful people, as well as watching (and participating in) the disappointment of failure. On the surface, it can appear that there is a very fine line between success and failure. I have even caught myself believing that really successful people are just lucky people, no different than winning the lottery. After all, we all work hard, so why do some of us struggle to make it to the top?
In my observations, I have found three primary differences between successful people and those still struggling.
1. Successful people define success on their terms. Success can mean many different things to many different people. Simply striving for success is, honestly, too vague of a goal to work towards. Truly successful people know exactly what that means to them, and it helps keep them focused on the tasks at hand. Success can be wealth, but I also know very successful people who make less money than I do, but they are living their dream and meeting their goals. Because of this, most likely, soon they will also be wealthier than me.
2. Successful people take risks. The old saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” is in fact true. Successful people understand that they have to put all the cards on the table. The most perplexing thing about successful people is that for them, failure is an option. While most of us do everything we can to hold on tight and never fall, successful people let go and throw themselves into their goals. They are not deterred by a failure from time to time. For them, it is just part of the journey and not something that should be feared or avoided at all costs.
3. Successful people are happy. You may be thinking, “No kidding, that’s why I want to be successful too.” But you miss my point. Successful people were happy before they were successful. This does not mean that you can’t have a bad day, or even curl up in a ball and cry from time to time. The difference is that successful people don’t let troubles overtake their lives. They are problem solvers instead of problem pointer-outers (read my article on problem solving). They understand that nothing is gained from constantly complaining or looking at all the negativity in life. For most successful people, problems are opportunities to step in and build more success.
OK, so the truth is, and I am sure that you know this, there is no secret code to success. Successful people work hard just like we do, but they also look at the world from a different perspective. Instead of letting circumstances control their lives, they look for circumstances they can control.