The 5 Things Successful People Do Without FailLast Updated: April 2, 2018
The secret to success is actually no secret at all. You only get it through hard work. It’s as simple as that. But there are traits common to the world’s most successful people.
How can you be a success? What is the secret? What are the things successful people do that make such a huge difference? It’s really no great mystery. Throughout history, people from a diversity of backgrounds—from Richard Branson, to International Monetary Fund MD Christine Lagarde; Plato to Mark Zuckerberg.
You’ll find uncannily similar features across the careers of all successful business entrepreneurs and world leaders. The secret is that there is no secret. Success only comes through hard work. However, it is the quality of the work you do that counts. That is the most common take-away from the entire field of business literature, whether from writers as old school as Napoleon Hill, or more recent figures from Harvey Mackay to Tim Ferriss.
There are traits that are common among the people mentioned above, and many other successful high-achievers. To give you an idea, and to help you on the ladder to success, here are 5 things successful people do without fail.
1. They Take Risks
Richard Branson has never been afraid of risks. For Branson and every other successful person, not fearing risk is top of the list of things successful people do. Although in 2015 Branson admitted that age is moderating his appetite for risk-taking, we should bear two things in mind. Firstly, as Ernest Hemingway once said, “Hesitation increases in relation to risk in equal proportion to age.” Secondly, Branson has earned this spurs. His $5.1bn empire grew from the risk of leaving school to set up his first business, a student magazine, which led to his creation of a mail order record business, which led to the first Virgin Records, and then to the Virgin record label. He took risks with the acts he signed. Mike Oldfield was a prodigious but obscure teenaged multi-instrumentalist, but his Tubular Bells established Virgin as an industry player, remaining on the British charts for 279 weeks, re-entering the charts in every decades since its 1973 release, and eventually up to 17m copies worldwide.
Branson underlined his reputation by signing the notorious Sex Pistols at a time when no other label would touch them. He astutely recognised the talent behind the notoriety, and knew that the controversy was freely marketing his business.
2. They Invest in Themselves
Christine Lagarde, the French lawyer and politician and managing director of the International Monetary Fund, once said: “You know, when I sit in meetings and things are very tense and people take things extremely seriously and they invest a lot of their ego, I sometimes think to myself,‘Come on, you know; there’s life and there’s death and there’s love.’ And all of that ego business is nonsense compared to that.”
While this is often interpreted as a call to remove the ego from business and politics, the Lagarde Lesson is as much about what happens when we consider what really matters—life, death, love—over our own egotism. Success follows from broadening the mind, learning, helping, and generally acting in service to something larger than you. It is something you must work at, but the payback can be huge, for you and those around you.
Again, Richard Branson put it perfectly, giving us one of the mindset/mantras that focusing on is one of the things successful people do: “For nearly 250 days of the year I travel around the world, trying to make Virgin the most respected brand in the world. Not necessarily the biggest, but the best.”
3. They Keep Good Company
Another of the things that successful people do unfailingly is follow the “birds of a feather flock together” principle. Just as a long lasting life partnership is made up of two partners that “match up for age, physical attractiveness, height, religion, income, ethic group, political views, and so on”, then it seems also that if you want to be as successful as your role model, you have a greater chance if you associate with your inspiration or those of like mind.
This is, literally, ancient wisdom. The proverbial “birds of a feather” first flew into the English language in 1545 when evoked in William Turner’s The Rescuing of Romish Fox: “Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.” But Plato had used the phrase in The Republic in 380 BC when he told Socrates: “I will tell you what my own feeling is. Men of my age flock together; we are birds of a feather, as the old proverb says.”
Such relationships can take the form of a network of like minds, but also a mentor/pupil relationship. Ambitious people want to be like the people whose success they want to emulate.
Take a look at the Mentorpolis.com website, and you will notice that a significant number of mentor/mentee relationships that have not only birthed future success but also been handed down when the mentee becomes a mentor.
Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to name one, has said: “A small amount of time invested on your part to share your expertise can open up a new world for someone else.”
Zuckerberg’s mentor was the late Steve Jobs. What they had in common at a deep level was a belief that, as Zuckerberg wrote in a final farewell Facebook post to Jobs, “what you build can change the world”.
4. They Have Something To Get Up For
Entrepreneurs and CEOs vary in their choice of a morning routine, but they are all agreed that the routine is the important aspect. Morning rituals can take from five minutes up to an hour, but the most successful people never skip it. Here are some frequently cited examples.
- Scott Adams, creator of ‘Dilbert’ cartoon, spends the first 20 minutes of his day by enjoying a protein bar and coffee treat.
- John Paul DeJoria loves waking up just so he can stay in bed for five minutes to quietly reflect and “just be”. Dejoria says he will “open his eyes and let myself be completely and truly present”, and only after that does his working day begin.
- Brad Lande, head of Birchbox Man was not a born “morning person”, but over the years has devised a five-step plan for a morning routine that has “shifted my mornings from a sleepy blur to a quick awakening”. 1. Hot water with lemon; 2. Meditation; 3. Yoga; 4. Face oil; 5. Breakfast smoothie
- Kevin O’Leary, Shark Tank investor, gets up at 5.45am to check the Asian and European bond markets, then works out for 45 minutes while watching business television—“Your health is one investment that is guaranteed to pay dividends!”—before heading to the office for a 9.30am start.
- Kat Cole, Focus Brands group president, has one constant in a varied morning routine—she drinks 24 ounces of water, a habit acquired while doing humanitarian work in Africa. “We are so lucky to have access to clean drinking water, and I think about how grateful I am for that almost every day.”
5. They Don’t ‘Fly Blind’
Planning a specific endpoint is one of the most important things successful people do. There is nothing more frustrating on a car journey on which you are not quite sure where the final destination is. To get there unencumbered by major delays, you need a map or some kind of satellite navigation device.
Similarly, high achievers never fly blind into the future. They always have simple and clearly defined goals, and subject them to rigorous and regular scrutiny and review, revising and developing and tailoring strategies for meeting those goals.
The expression “Goals are dreams with deadlines”—variously attributed to Napoleon Hill, business author Harvey Mackay and time-management author, Diana Scharf-Hunt—is a brilliant encapsulation of what the rich do. They focus on the future but never lose site of the ‘here and now’ fine detail necessary for progress towards the goal.
Perhaps it is this, among all of the things successful people do as a matter of course, that is probably the most effective mindset and behaviour adjustment necessary for success.