“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Alba Edison
What are the elusive secrets of success apart from the oft heard and less practiced ‘hard work’ and ‘dedication’? Researchers have discovered that people who overcome impossible odds – discrimination, illness, personal grief and failure – and succeed have certain common personality traits. These characteristics of successful people include:
1. Happiness as a habit: Sadness, anger and other sufferings come easy. But being happy is very tough. Successful people have a talent for enjoying life. They try to latch on to the everyday joy, however simple or small. If they can’t have big victories, they accept small ones. Terrence Des Pres, a former Colgate University professor who studied the attitudes of Holocaust victims, calls this tenacious hold on life “a strength beyond hope”.
2. Flexibility to change: Accepting changes, and being flexible to them is necessary for success. Accepting changes means not abdicating ones responsibility and not blaming others for current circumstances. It means to look at change as an opportunity to learn and improve our skills.
3. Tenacity: Don’t give up. Trying won’t make the problem go away, but it’ll make it more bearable. Successful people ask “What do I do next?” rather than “Why Did I fail?” This helps in 2 ways – you don’t get bogged down by your ‘failure’ and focusing on doing something else keeps you motivated to keep working.
4. Reaching out to others: When faced with failure or overwhelming circumstances, successful people don’t shut out others from their life. They readily ask for help when needed, and cherish the involvement. Duke university researchers have found that one of the best indicators of health, happiness and long life was the tendency to reach out to people beyond your immediate family.
5. Living in the present: Don’t wallow in self-pity or live in a fantasy world. Says author Fredrick Buechner in The Hungering Dark – “Not one of us can bring back yesterday or shape tomorrow”.
6. Having a dream: Goals give focus and can be incredibly motivating. Successful people don’t shy away from dreaming and working on something ‘seemingly impossible’.
7. Thinking long term: Most people look for quick shortcuts to success and aren’t ready to endure any short term pain. Successful people don’t mind stepping out of their comfort zone and think long term.
8. Interest to learn: Another common habit of successful people is the continuous desire to expand their knowledge – from books and, people they meet.
9. Sense of urgency: Successful people don’t procrastinate and prefer to be decisive and act quickly. They don’t waste time because they value it highly.
10. Mindset about success: The authors of Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies say – ” … what appears to be constant is that the principles don’t change over time. What defines these people’s lives is their commitment to doing something that is meaningful to them.”