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6 Characteristics of the Successful

by Gregory Chapman about a month ago in advice
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6 Characteristics of the Successful

Image courtesy of Unsplash

At the age of 18 anyone can head down to their local shop and buy a lottery ticket or scratch card.

All it takes is choosing five or six numbers for the chance of winning a “life-changing” amount of money, simple really.

Except, the likelihood of you choosing the correct combination of numbers to win, say the EuroMillions, is 1 in 139,838,160.

As the old saying goes, you’ve got more of a chance of being struck by lightning (according to the CDC this is 1 in 500,000).

But from a young age we are almost encouraged to participate in the lottery. To follow what everyone else is doing; a 9–5 job with a regular, just-enough salary and having the dream of winning the lottery to “solve all our problems”.

People You Look Up To Didn’t Win The Lottery

When we think of celebrities, authors, artists, chefs, olympians, social media influencers, we have to understand that they didn’t sit around and wait for their combination of numbers to pop up, they didn’t let their fate lie in the hands of a randomly selected group of numbers.

What do the likes of Taylor Swift, Ryan Holiday, Viola Davis, and Tom Daley have in common?

They took control of their life, they took necessary steps to get to where they are today, they didn’t let ‘luck’ or chance control their fate — instead they found something they enjoyed doing and they knuckled down.

They Aren’t An Overnight Success

These individuals you look up to, whoever they may be, are not an overnight success.

Typically, behind every person is at the very least 5 years of hard work and commitment which has lead them to where they are today.

Just because you have only just heard of them, doesn’t mean they haven’t been swimming in the pool for quite some time.

There are often common attributes which help these people towards their success, simple things that can help you to:

They Fail Often

The path to ‘success’ is not straight, along the way there are bumps in the road and hurdles to jump. Edison, in his search for the construction of the electronic light bulb, said:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”

It is the resilience and the self-belief of these individuals that keeps them going. They fail, they try again, they fail, they try again, they fail, they try again. Giving up is the only way to fail.

They Surround Themselves With Greatness

In Warren Buffett’s journey to investor supreme, he followed the likes of Benjamin Graham and others, influenced by their knowledge and experience. It was learning from these individuals that he copied or built models to build his own fortune.

He is not alone; whether a friend, family member, mentor or stranger — many people find their way by having a support group around them. Either to learn from, to challenge you or just for moral support, these people are there to help you when you stumble.

“The better you are at surrounding yourself with people of high potential, the greater your chance for success” — John C. Maxwell

The Comfort Zone Is Far Behind Them

We all know what makes us comfortable, and very few of us really try to change that — why would you when it perfectly fine?

But a comfort zone can leave you feeling stagnant — there is no growth, no change.

It’s in stepping outside of your comfort zone, by pushing yourself even just a little, where you realise how much unlocked potential you have. It’s outside of the comfort zone where the greatest rewards lie. It’s outside of the comfort zone where you face your fears and walk away stronger.

Perhaps it is playing a role you have never played before, perhaps it is taking a risk in an investment, perhaps it is running 1K more than yesterday — whatever it is, outside of the comfort zone is where growth happens, and where growth happens so does success.

They Are Disciplined About Their Discipline

The new shiny thing is always something that can take your focus away from your current task. It’s obvious that once a task become monotonous or feels like a routine, a new shiny thing has a certain appeal, something different to spark up your life.

But it’s in rejecting the new shiny thing and doubling down on the tasks in front of you, in being disciplined, where you will find the greatest reward.

Procrastination is a problem for many across the world, but this is because we have not yet found our flow state or organised our lives to ensure we produce what we are truly capable of.

Sometimes discipline is helped with separating environments: when Tom Daley is at home he is unable to dive, but when he’s at a pool you wouldn’t find him watching TV or focusing on other tasks — in that environment he knows he is there for one thing: diving.

Other times we just need to give ourself no other option. Neil Gaiman has publicly stated that he is “easily distractible” and so he gives himself the option: sit and write or sit and do nothing at all. He doesn’t allow himself to surf the web or scroll through Instagram. If he has sat down to write, he can either write or do nothing — and writing becomes the more favourable and appealing option.

Discipline is about commitment. Commitment to the task at hand, commitment to yourself, commitment to your future. Committing to a task or an idea, and being disciplined in your approach to the work that goes into it see far greater results, as seen by all those people you hear of.

“I think the real reason for my improvement is…working as hard as I could on all my new dives, making sure I did lots of repetition to get them consistent” — Tom Daley

They Never Stop

You don’t expect to have a six-pack at the end of your first visit to the gym. As we all know, muscles takes time and constant work to build.

This is the same with everything. As they say, 10,000 hours of practise makes the master.

Playing Violin once will not get you into the orchestra, but practising every day or as many days as you can a week will build up your skill level and give you more opportunities which may lead to the orchestra.

Everyone you can think of has spent time and effort training and practising, being consistent with their work. They didn’t just rock up on set one day and go to win an Oscar, they’ve been to drama school, they’ve done innumerable unheard-of short films, they’ve been a background artist or had unspoken roles. They spent years working and honing their craft to be where they are today.

Everyday They Learn

There is no top of the ladder, no finish line.

To continue to get more work or to release more albums, or make and invest more money, there is a need to continue learning and evolving.

You don’t get to the point where you know it all, no one ever will. Instead, you adjust and adapt, you change and grow.

Back in 2008, Taylor Swift released ‘Love Story’. Then in 2020 she released the album ‘evermore’ — each song on this album has a completely different sound and feel to the original ‘Love Story’ because she herself has changed over the years, her music and style has evolved. The constant evolution is what has helped her stay at the top of her game.

“The thing about life is, every time you learn a lesson, another is waiting around the corner. You never know everything” — Taylor Swift

Quick cash might seem desirable. But learning and developing skills which you can market and use to help others whilst also building your own fortune and success is far more powerful and meaningful.

Remember it’s the journey you take, the story you write, which will create who you are, not the amount of zero’s in the bank.

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Gregory Chapman

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