„Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.“ ~ John R. Wooden
Maybe you have seen it, I recently had a survey about what topics you, as the reader, want to see more on the site. Without any doubt, „success“ was one of the most requested topics.
So here are 3 keys you got to have to be successful in life; plus the practical steps that lead to success when followed.
It still seems to be the #1 thing people desire most. And I can’t say I’m different. It is very important for me to be the most successul I could possibly be. I believe being ambitious is a very good thing; not blindly, but intelligently.
Many people are looking for a quick way to be successful. This is not what this post is about (although we will come to the techniques to get successful later in this post). I want to look more at the mindset that will get you success – on the long run. I think this is the most valuable approach, one that hopefully you would end up on anyway. Maybe after you went for what you think means success only to see that this isn’t it really (as I did before too!).
What is Success to You?
What makes you to say „I am successful“ to yourself?
Is it a lot of money?
Is it recognition, fame or praise?
Is it a feeling, of fulfillment?
Is it happiness?
Someone once said: „Success without fulfillment is failure!“ And this is the way I would suggest you to look at it. Eventually it’s just not enough to have „external“ success. When we are miserable on the inside, what good is it for then? So I like to bring both ideas, external and internal success together, to define real success.
I think eventually success is about people. More precisely, it is about you as an individual and people. You really want to satisfy the needs of people, to help and to genuinely care about others.
So to me, success means contributing my personal gifts in something that I really love in the best possible way, being of use for others and getting the appropriate reward for that.
The 3 MUST-HAVE Keys to Lasting Success in Life
So what really makes you successful AND fulfilled as well? It sounds like the ultimate and almost unattainable goal in life, right? I thought about that for a long time … (one reason why this post took almost 20 days to be completed, sorry for keeping you waiting for so long!)
I think there are 3 big factors that we have to have to be successful. There are 2 personal and 1 external key, and those are:
KEY 1. PASSION = There is something that you really LOVE to do
Passion is the first personal key which makes sure that you are truly fulfilled with what you do. It just makes you happy when you can do what you truly love.
This also ensures that you stay with it for long enough for success showing up. This is because when you do what you love, you don’t need external motivations or too much self-discipline to get things going. You are naturally driven to just do it.
See also: How to Follow Your Passion and Do What You Love without Going Broke
KEY 2. SKILL = You have strong natural and learned abilities to do it
Your skills are the second personal key for success. In order to really succeed you have to have something special, something unique and that comes from being really good, better than most other people. Then success comes naturally to you, but you have to know what it is that you are naturally great at.
Btw. to answer the question before you can ask it: It is not certain that you love that where your abilities are. It is likely, but not a given. For instance you could have great talent as a computer programmer but totally hate sitting in front of a computer for hours every day. Or you could really like to sing but somehow you miss every single note. You get the idea… So since we need both personal keys matching for success, you need to make sure you really can do what you love and vice versa.
KEY 3. PEOPLE = There is a need in people for it
The final and third key are the people. This is where the money is, and hopefully a lot of it. It doesn’t work if you are not creating value for others. In business terms you would say there is a market. People need and want what you are offering. And, since we are talking about LASTING success here, people also need to really like what you are sharing with them. They have to get real value out of your work! You genuinely care for others.
So to repeat: you love what you do, you can do it exceptionally well, and people really want what you do. If you match those 3 keys together you will unlock the doorway to your personal success for sure! So think about matching those 3 factors together.
Update: I found an additional Venn diagram which expresses the exact same content from the angle of How to be happy in business from Bud Cuddell:
I like this too since it is a bit more verbose giving you concrete clues on what to do when you have Passion (What we want to do), Skill (What we do well) and People (What we can be paid to do). If you only have two, look for the advice given above.
But this post is far from being over. Since this is the „Complete Guide to Lasting Success“, I will give you even more value in the hope that it will really make you think and do something towards your own success – whatever you have set out that to be.
How to be Successful?
So since from the 3 key-model above we have a good understanding of what makes personal and lasting success, let’s find the best ways to make your success happen.
There was a 3 minute talk on the TED conference called Richard St. John’s 8 secrets of success outlining the following 8 qualities essential for success in life: Passion, Hard Work, Focus, Persistance, Ideas, Quality (Be Good), Push and Serve. He later even wrote a whole book about it.
While it was a very short talk I liked how it was based on interviews of successful people and how it is simply to the point.
This post of mine here still aims to be even more personal and useful for you not only running after your success but also having the right mindset to reach and keep it.
Find Your Voice: Be Aligned with who you really are
I think the most important thing for not only success but also fulfillment in life is to be authentic, to express what you really are in what you do. That just feels right and you know it when it happens.
Your voice means finding this what only you can do best, that what makes you unique. Stephen Covey wrote the book The 8th Habit about that topic. So ask yourself: What is your voice?
Come from Real Understanding
Many of my own personal successes came when I understood something on such a level that it made a huge difference. A difference compared to what others were doing and to what I did before. When you want to master something you have to know it inside-out!
So invest the time and stay curious about what makes the people and the field you are in tick. Research until you really get things. This makes all the difference between you being a leader or a follower.
Know what people want and need, and give it to them
So often I see friends doing what they love and they have great skill at it, but they fail to recognize that there is just no real market for that. If you want to have success but there is no market, meaning there is nobody interested, there you have to adjust. That’s basic. But even if you see a market, what is it what people really need? To see this you have to see the world from their perspective and keep looking and get feedback.
Or another common pattern I see over and over again: if there is a market, they fail to bring their uniqueness to the people. They just don’t know how to or they have an unrational and self-defeating limiting belief that they shouldn’t promote themselves in even the tiniest way. If this sounds remotely familiar to you then you got to change this belief and this behavior for your own good, now.
In the end it comes down to the mentioned 3. key above, to all 3 keys: you have to match your own talents and likes with what people need. That’s the path to success.
Commitment = Patience + Consistency + Quality
„I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.“ ~ Michael Jordan
Success does not come over night. It is not one big step. Although there are bigger steps and smaller steps of course, what really ensures success is patient consistency: all the right but mostly small steps taken day by day.
Of course you have to have the potential to be successful, so you are not going blindly after something that is just not for you. This is probably one of the most difficult things to decide: Can you be successful at what you envision for yourself – or maybe not? It brings me right back to the 3 keys. Ask yourself:
1. Do I really love it; for a long time ahead?
2. Am I naturally good at it? Do I have the potential to be outstanding, the best?
3. Do people like it and want more of what I provide?
If no, keep looking! Adjust using the 3 questions as a guide and find your way. If your answer to those questions is yes, you are good to go for sure.
Think Big: Always shoot to be the best
You won’t become successful by going for second. The right mindset is that you want to win and you will do whatever it takes. This then guides you on your decisions towards your success. What thinking big ensures is that you think on another level – on the best level to be precise. Below that is just not acceptable and therefore not on your radar. This may sound a bit harsh and egoic, but it is not. Let me explain:
By always shooting to be the best I really don’t mean that you should take advantage of people and become an ignorant braindead chasing after your success only. No, your aim is always to serve others (remember the 3. Key). Only then you will enjoy long-term success. But try to excel at that so you can be the best you can be. And use your competition to inspire you to show more of your potential, so you can inspire them too.
Take Effective Action
Nothing really happens until you do something. In this post I tried to lay the foundation, get the right mindset and get on the right path towards your success. This is your strategy. Now you have to take action to make it happen! Action alone is not enough, it has to be intelligent and effective action. What do I mean by that?
The way of „Work smarter, not harder“ is almost cliché nowadays, but the true meaning is that you want to think result-oriented before you act. And when you act you what to act most effectively. Plan ahead, improve your productivity and your time-management so that you are not in your own way when it comes to make it happen.
Learn and Improve Continuously
„Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.“ ~ Steve Jobs
The most important thing is your willingness to succeed and to keep looking with all your heart. You need to want to get ahead and want more! The way you achieve success can change, as long as you intelligently adjust and improve from what you have learned, you will find it. Steve Jobs also said you got to find what you love and never give up. The essence of the 1. key above.
One of the most underrated yet most secure method in success is the idea of CANI: constant and never-ending improvement. It is derived from the japanese Kaizen and means that you make small improvements step for step in order to achieve the big success eventually.
Avoid to fall into complacency or even worse: don’t you give up and settle for a life of much less of what you are capable of living. Stay hungry, stay foolish.
Final Words to Your Success
This was a looooong post, but I just wanted to make sure I put every idea essential for success in here. I hope you could get something from it here or there.
Remember to keep your balance. It won’t do you much good if you put all your efforts into your job, when your private and love life is in ruins. On the contrary, if you want lasting success in life you need to maintain balance. That will not only give you success, but also make you happy.
UPDATE: Also have a look at my follow-up post: The #1 Reason Why You Are Still Not Successful.
Great tips. Passion is a big one. I see a lot of people who set out to make money but have no passion for what they do, which eventually causes them to burn out and quit. I think you really have to have a passion for what you do. It provides you with the long-term motivation that you need to succeed.
Thank you for your post, I think you and I think a lot alike, everything in this post was already soaring through my mind as I continue my journey of growing and becoming more successful, keep the posts up you have my thanks.
Brilliant, insightful post – many thanks, vielen Dank!
You’re welcome, Jenny.
@Leonardo de Oliveira Leite: Thanks for this addition to the post. I think accomplishment includes key 2+3: skill+people.
This great post remembered me of some simple sayings I read before. Many don’t know, but Bruce Lee graduated at philosophy, and he wrote some interesting short things.
He says there are 3 factors that determine whether you are happy with your job:
1-It has to be for you. (key 1)
2-You have to have a sense of accomplishment by doing it.
3-Don’t do too much of it. (the last paragraph of this post says this too ^^)
Bruce also says that success is not a goal, but a path. That to be successful is to live in a way of success. With this I think of CANI.
Sara, thank you very much for giving me your honest feedback! I’m really happy my writing was of use for you!
And you are right, I try to incorporate my spiritual awareness, or it may just happen automatically. I think it can add some depth and a broader perspective most of the time.
I also wanted to add a note about the 3. Key: people liking what you offer. Sometimes, in the beginning, you don’t really now yet. Or it is new to people and you don’t have much social proof. Don’t get discouraged too easily. While you are improving on the feedback you get, if the other two keys match, you can find your way eventually. It’s always tougher in the beginning where you have to show some determination and persistance to reap the rewards.
At first I must thank you for your work and request you to keep it going. It is really nice of you to share your thoughts on personal development. I have read earlier the 5-day personal development posts as well. This post and earlier ones really does help me in finding answers to my questions and about my understanding on many things, and made me redefine few of my understanding. One thing I enjoy in your personal development posts are that it involves the combination of the spiritual and modern aspects. Once again thank you for your work.
Hey Ross, really good to hear. Thanks.
Good point with being put into the box. It seems to me, especially when we talk about success, keeping people in a box is the aim sometimes. Meaning the success of the few is the no-success of the many. But that is just the scarcity-view of the world. Opposed is the abundance view of the world, where every single success is contributing and creating more possibilities.
Of course there will always be competition. And that’s a good thing. And that’s why I think it is good to „find your own voice and speak it“.
Love this post – „Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish“ is a mantra that needs to be shared across educational institutions everywhere. The fact that we’re told to „think outside the box“ but are constantly put into it is what causes us to accept the status quo. I’ve been following your posts for quite a while – This one made me go from lurker to commenter. Keep it coming! Great stuff.
Thanks for feedback Slawek. And I’m not planning to stop anytime soon! :)
Thanks mate for writing these articles. It is really useful. Do not stop!