Would you say you are successful?
Again and again, you meet people to whom everything seems to fall to: whether at work or privately – everything they touch succeeds and becomes a success. You stand by, stunned, and ask yourself: “How do they do it?”
There is no one hundred percent recipe for success, but there are at least a few character traits that successful people have in common.
This mistake in thinking prevents your success
First, let’s start with what prevents many people from being successful. Harvard professor Shawn Achor has been dealing with this question for several years and has now come to an astonishing result:
In fact, many people believe that they can become more successful by working harder. And the more successful you are, the happier you will be. Not correct!
This is a dangerous fallacy, says Achor.
During his research over the years, he established: If you are happy, your brain is up to 31 percent more productive than the brain in a neutral or negative (thought) state. “The intelligence is then higher; the creativity is increased, the energy levels rise. Salespeople increase their performance by 37 percent; Doctors work 19 percent faster and more accurately,” says Achor.
Or to put it another way:
You don’t get happier by becoming more successful. It is precisely the other way round: Those who are happy will also be more successful and fully exploit their true potential.
“Those who treat success well will follow them like a dog.” – Mark Twain
Success is a matter of attitude.
In either case, success or failure – it starts with a decision. Above all, success is one thing: The Magic Word, Your attitude – first and foremost, a matter of your attitude.
The following quote sums it up nicely:
“The only person standing in the way of our own success is the one we see in the mirror.”
Whoever accepts that he or she can massively influence and shape their own success creates the basis for this success. If you acknowledge that, then you will decide your success…
- You are the only one responsible for your success or failure
- There are no more excuses or external reasons for failure.
- That setbacks are only temporary and serve as a learning experience.
- You have to develop and learn continuously.
Most people ignore this realization.
At the end of a working day, many prefer to concentrate on what went wrong during the day: the missed deadline, breakdowns in customer meetings or rejected ideas …
All these things they employ far beyond the closing time also. In contrast to this, the successes are overlooked: The days when everything goes well, are just ordinary days. As if that were taken for granted.
Fatal! Because even small successes are just that: Success – and it encourages you to take a further step towards your own goal.
“Success is nothing small, but it starts with little things.” – Socrates
Daily self-reflection, in particular, can be an essential key to more success here: Those who are aware of what they have already achieved can go through life happier. And from previous successes, you can also draw strength for your new goals.
This is also proven by the example of the American gymnast Bart Connor.
As a young boy, his parents asked him every day before he went to sleep, which was his most significant achievement of the day. Because of the answers, Connor fell asleep every evening with the feeling that he had achieved something. And he woke up confident that he would be able to face new challenges the next day.
It paid off: after a severe injury in 1983; his Olympic qualification was at stake. But he fought his way back, not only qualified but also won the Olympic gold medal.
There will undoubtedly continue to be projects and situations that you cannot complete successfully for various (external) reasons. But looking at the perspective, individual setbacks and failures are essential pieces of the puzzle for your success.
This long-term mindset is also an essential prerequisite for lasting personal success.
Do you know what success means to you?
Are you successful? – Many cannot answer this seemingly harmless question. They don’t know what success means to them and how to measure it.
What is perceived as success is, in part, shaped by society, but ultimately our own success is always based on our own standards and definitions – not on the expectations and values of our environment. That is why it is also essential to develop your own definition of success right from the start. The following steps can help you define success:
- Take your time and remember all the situations, private and professional, that you have recorded as successes so far.
- Make a note of what the situations have in common and what exactly made you successful.
- Also, record your current definition of success and write it down.
- Then compare your definition and what your previous successes have in common.
- From this, formulate in three to five sentences what constitutes success for you.
- Listen to yourself and grasp the definition intuitively. Change the meaning until it feels right to you.
Successful people have these qualities in common.
Bart Connor would not have made it if he had not had certain qualities that favour success. Some of these are already found in childhood; others are learned over time.
Which, at the same time, means: If you do not assign some of the characteristics to yourself, you can acquire them. We have collected some characteristics and attitudes that can be found significantly often in successful people:
Recipe for success: 11 characteristics and attitudes successful people have in common
All successful people, sooner or later, struggle with doubts and fears. No path goes smoothly; setbacks and defeats are part of it. The difference between success and failure is how you deal with those doubts.
Let yourself be paralyzed and slowed down by them, and success will be a long way off. However, if you approach doubts actively and use them with a now-especially-attitude as motivation, you will come much closer to success.
As the saying goes: “Change is the only constant.” Some people get nervous at this saying. They see change as a threat to the status quo and want everything to stay as it is.
In the mid-1950s in Europe, Werner Otto founded a mail-order business. The idea of bulk ordering makes it successful: Sitting comfortably together, leafing through the catalogue and changing clothes or redecorating the apartment – that hits the nerve of the times. But then online trading emerges. People are now buying from Amazon. Few competitors went broke. But Otto reinvents itself, becomes the Otto Group and thus one of the largest online retailers behind Amazon.
As understandable as that may be, success cannot be achieved that way. However, if you accept change and welcome new developments, things get different. If you see opportunities in new things and situations and actively examine how you can take advantage of them, that will help you enormously.
03. Believe in yourself
Bart Connor was not in self-pity melted, having had after the accident every reason to be. He didn’t let his head hang down and continued to work towards his goal of qualifying for the Olympic Games.
Another example: In 1914, Thomas Edison’s laboratory burned down, destroying years of work. But instead of mourning about his career, he saw the event as an opportunity to set off for new shores and start his research again with a fresh spirit. He promptly made numerous inventions.
“Successful people are ordinary people who believe in themselves and their goals.”
Successful people have a doer mentality. They don’t just sit around at home and wait for happiness to knock on their door one day. They go out to get what they dream of.
Successful people make decisions that many mothers have likely made to clap their hands over their heads. Michael Dell is one of those. He was pushed to study medicine by his parents. But he preferred to sell computers. In 1984 he broke off his studies and started a company. Today Dell is one of the world’s largest PC dealers.
06. Personality development
“Above all, you should invest in yourself. It’s the only investment that pays off thousand times over,” says Warren Buffet, an entrepreneur and billionaire himself. Successful people believe in their abilities – but they also always work on developing them and have the necessary self-confidence to be able to get even better.
07. Success diary
Most successful people keep a journal in some way. These are not always pen and paper notes. Some people summarize their day in an app, others use voice notes, and still, others draw mind maps or sketch notes.
The important thing is not the form, which you should choose according to your preferences, but the daily ritual of documentation. A regularly maintained diary helps you to organize your thoughts, to keep goals in view and to recall your successes.
Successful people are good networkers. They like to make new contacts and find influential and inspiring friends. In 1990, for example, Angela Merkel, then a largely unknown politician, surprisingly became Minister for Women and Youth in the Kohl cabinet. Helmut Kohl recognized her potential and gave her the start of a political career. To this day, she is considered the most powerful woman in the world.
But not dreaming. A successful person needs ideas, visions and dreams. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Steve Jobs. In 1983 he was said to have asked John Sculley, the Marketing Director at Pepsi at that time:
“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want to change the world?” – Steve Jobs
To be successful, you need determination and what science calls volition – in short: bite.
Determination, in this case, means developing an irrefutable passion for your actions and goals. You will show staying power and work to achieve your goals for years. Christoph Waltz, for example, only became famous with his role as “Hans Landa” in Quentin Tarantino’s film Inglourious Basterds. Only at the age of 53 does his career take off. Success is not a question of age anyway, at most an excuse.
Other people – colleagues, bosses, customers, friends and others – are indispensable for your individual success. Nobody is successful as a lone fighter.
Always make yourself aware of who is essential for your success and how well you are in your situation. Do not only allow the resulting gratitude but also show it to the people who are important to you. You don’t have to show off with grand gestures or gifts. A simple word of gratitude, praise at the right time, or support with important projects is enough. This is how you strengthen the basis of your success.
Poison for Success: Are You Getting In Your Way?
If we are already talking about the recipe for success, we, of course, also have to look at the downside – the poison for success.
There is – unfortunately – a poison that is preventing us from reaching our success. And the realization may not always be easy, but that doesn’t make it any less accurate: Sometimes we simply stand in the way of our success.
Sure, it’s more comfortable and more pleasant to blame someone else and, for example, blame the boss or the circumstances on them. But only those who are honest with themselves can change something.
Often, bad habits and mindsets get in the way. These for example are:
1. You are a perfectionist.
It goes without saying that every employee has the right to do their work to the best of their knowledge and belief. But not a few lapses into a harmful perfectionism. Some spend their lives trying not to make mistakes. Time and again, they go through your work and keep tinkering with it. But this attention to detail takes a lot of time. The time that you could already invest in other tasks. They also lose sight of the big picture.
How to change that: Instead, practice selective perfectionism. Think about which tasks perfectionism is worthwhile. Is it worth investing several hours for the slides of a customer presentation? In any case. On the other hand, is it worth sacrificing several hours for an interim internal report? Probably not, because the focus here is mostly on the results and not the layout. This will save you a lot of effort.
2. You can’t handle criticism
Of course, not every colleague who gives you advice means well. Sometimes it’s intrigue, or a wrong track, or an attempt to make yourself bigger as an advisor. However, these are rather exceptions. As a rule, the help you need at the moment can actually only be found one office away. Indeed, there are experienced and very successful colleagues in your job who can advance your work. It would be stupid not to benefit from this experience.
How to change that: Criticism is not pleasant. Nobody likes to hear their own mistakes being held against them. You automatically feel hurt in your ego. However, false pride can keep you from moving forward. Constructive criticism is valuable feedback for your work. You will be made aware of things that you were not aware of yourself and given a chance to improve your work. Take this chance.
3. You are afraid of making mistakes.
Wait and see, maybe the problem will solve itself. You are using tried and tested methods. You are not a risk-taker. Making decisions wisely and carefully is of good quality. But caution must not become paralyzing fear. Because then fear stands in the way of change. Innovation is only possible when things change, and new things are created.
How to change that: Don’t block yourself from new ideas. Have the courage to try something out. It doesn’t have to be a world-shattering change. Small changes that you find successful will encourage you to try more.
4. You are like a flag in the wind.
Some people glide smoothly through life and never offend. They give a lot to the opinion of others and always want to please everyone. Even if this wish is understandable, it is impossible to please everyone. Ultimately, you lack your point of view, what you stand for with your work.
How to change that: Break away from other people’s opinions. What is important to you? If you are consistently in your opinion, your colleagues and the boss will take you seriously.
5. You take no responsibility.
The alarm clock didn’t go off, and you overslept, the train was late – you always have an excuse at hand. Circumstances are still to blame for things not going according to your plan. This will pull you out of the affair. While this is the easiest way to go, it does not mean that you are given management responsibilities.
How you can change that: Those, who behave responsibly also enjoy the trust of customers and colleagues. Own your mistakes. There is no shame in doing wrong if you handle your mistakes correctly. Show your boss and your colleagues that you learn from them and take part in solving them. The work does not get stuck with the other, but you actively contribute.
6. You don’t evolve.
Even with several years of professional experience and as a seasoned expert, you have not stopped learning. Because the world of work is continually evolving. Knowledge is statute-barred. A surgeon who is highly trained today will no longer be able to keep up with developments in five to ten years without continuous training. The neurologist, Arne May from the Hamburg University Hospital, showed in a study that learning is still possible into old age. 20 men and 24 women between the ages of 50 and 67 should learn to juggle in just three months. Even if not all of the test subjects were able to juggle after three months, it was found that the brain had developed further in those who had exercised. But if you do not continue to learn, your ability to learn something deteriorates.
How to change that: Continuously educate yourself. Numerous options are available to you: extra-occupational courses, advanced training, congresses, conferences, trade fairs, e-learning, coaching.
7. You don’t think about those who supported you.
Even geniuses sometimes need help from others. Be it that they provide you with useful information, warn you in good time or actively protect you. The more mentors you have, the better. A functioning network of relationships acts as a career turbo. But to forget who was once by your side with advice and action and from whom you have benefited in some way so far is an insult for the mentors. Even Goethe considered ingratitude to be a weakness: “I have never seen capable people being ungrateful.”
How to change that: Keep in touch with the people you have promoted. A functioning network lives from the exchange. So if you want to be sure in the future that the people in your network will help you, offer to help yourself.