This article has evolved in my mind over a period of few years. Reading about successful people I have drawn out the basic (core) qualities that almost all of them have. But before we get into that I want to point out an important fact:
Being successful and being very successful are lightyears apart. Very successful people like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elizabeth Homes, Barrack Obama, Sir Richard Branson, Jack Ma, Mark Cuban operate from a totally different mindset.
One major trait common between all these very successful individuals is that they are emotionally committed. Best selling author Greene says it best – “We live in a culture that tends to emphasise intellect and going to the greatest schools and all that, but success is more dependent on a resiliency and a love of what you’re doing.”
In his book “Mastery” Greene noted that most of them were failures in the early part of their lives:
Greene points to Charles darwin who as a youth, was always in shadows of his cousin who had a much higher IQ . He further states:
“Darwin was a bit of a loser. His father thought he wouldn’t end up amounting to much,” says Greene. “He kind of wandered around and took this job on a boat sailing around the world and it ended up Darwin became perhaps one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. But at an early age, if you looked at him, you would say, ‘I don’t see it there.’”
Winston Churchill’s reality of his early life did not bode well for his future prospects. Up until his school days were the period he did not recall fondly as he labels it as : “ a time of discomfort, restriction and purposeless monotony “
Another example is of todays billionaire Mark Cuban. Mark was 23 and had no money. He had no idea what the future would bring. He worked jobs he didn’t like and that barely paid the rent. He even said that he had so many jobs his parents wondered if he would ever be stable. As Mark would justify in his mind- he was getting paid to learn and that every experience would be of value when he figured out what he wanted to do when he grew up. In reality, he had more doubt than confidence with this.
Also don’t forget that KFC was launched by a colonel when he was around 65 years old.
Some more examples of successful people who were failures in their early years. Read them here.
These examples however don’t mean that exceptional people have to be failures early on or the fact that because their first idea did not strike gold then all efforts leading to it were futile. My main reason to highlight this point is to motivate individuals who feel that they have been a failure for a majority part of their lives.
There is lot of hope and you just need to make a decision about what you want from your life, STARTING FROM TODAY.
Now lets look at some of the exceptional qualities of these people and what makes them what they are:
–They don’t just have goals, what they have is visions of changing the world: Very successful people strive every minute of their day to turn their vision into reality. They disrupt industries and cause revolutions. Larry Page and Serge Ellison Google’s founders mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Bill Gates’ had a clear vision of “a computer on every desk and in every home.” Elon Musk dreams of not only revolutionising the automobile industry and the power industry but also establishing a colony of humans on Mars!
–They say “NO” to almost everything else: A note from Warren Buffet: “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” Of course they don’t say no randomly to everything, but only to things that are not in alignment with their goals.
–They are voracious readers: Mark Cuban, used to read every book or magazine he could get his hands on. He would tell himself that one good idea would pay for the book and could make the difference between him making it or not. Even after he become a billionaire he insisted on reading at least 3 hours everyday.
Pick up any person you admire and who is successful and I am willing to bet that they spend an incredible amount of their time reading.
–They don’t strive for work/play balance, in fact their work is their life: They are always working. Elizabeth Homes CEO of Theranos, and the youngest billionaire on the 2014 Forbes 400 list with an estimated net worth of $4.6 billion, says she doesn’t own a TV and works every day from the time she wakes up until she goes to sleep. She further adds that “What matters is how well we do in trying to make people’s lives better. Thats why I am doing this. Thats why I work the way that I work. And thats why I love what I’m doing so much.”
However, please understand that they do value downtime. But instead of using it to gossip or watch TV they select activities that rejuvenates them. It could be a walk in the woods, reading an exceptional book, a meaningful chat with an old friend, or even extra sleep as Ariana Huffington illustrates it in her fabulous talk at TED.
–Money is a tool for them to make things happen: Most successful people’s primary motivation has always been to build something lasting, and not to make lot of money. Money is usually a byproduct or rather just a tool to make things happen.
The very best people are seldom motivated by money. When the first company that Musk had founded Zip-2, which sold for $307 million to Compaq, he made a cool $22 million from it. Anyone would have taken it easy after hauling in so much money and retired on an island in the Bahamas, not Elon. He immediately founded another company X.com which then later become paypal.com that was bought by Ebay for $1.5 billion dollars!!
Elon’s net worth rocketed into hundreds of million which he invested further in founding Space X, Tesla and Solar City.These people never work for money, neither does it motivate them.
– They hire people smarter than them to help achieve their goals: No one does it alone. They know that to achieve their dreams, they cannot do it alone. They need a team of super achievers, bonded together with a common cause.
–They have the strength to recover from severe crisis: They take dealing with crisis as part of the struggle. Nothing was going right for Elon Musk at one point – from death of his infant child, to his divorce with his wife, Justine, and losing all the millions he earned from Zip-2 and Paypal into his new ventures – he remained cool and came out even stronger. Adversities make these people stronger.
I will say it again – being successful and being exceptionally successful are light years apart. To be counted amongst the individuals mentioned in this article one needs to develop a unique mindset, somewhat of an idealist where you have your own vision of how the world should be like. You would be so consumed by your idea of changing the world that nothing else would matter to you!
What do you think about being very successful. Have anything you like to add? Let me know in the comments below!