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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

10 Qualities All Successful People Share (That Have Nothing to Do With Talent)


When I was in ninth grade, my cross country coach told me I’d never run a mile in under seven minutes and 30 seconds.

“You’re too short and stocky,” he said neutrally. “Have you considered swim team?”

I remember jogging away with tears in my eyes, convinced I had no fate as a runner. My mile time hovered stubbornly between eight and nine minutes for the next three months—and when the cross-country season wrapped up, I shoved my sneakers into the back of the closet.

Several years later, after gaining some perspective and deciding my old coach was full of, um, baloney, I put them on again. Running two or three miles at a time turned into four or five. I spontaneously signed up for a half-marathon, then began diligently training.

Three months later, on a sunny spring morning, I completed the half-marathon. Average mile time? Seven minutes and thirteen seconds.

“Take that, Coach!” I yelled as I sprinted the last few steps.

Talent definitely contributes to success. But as this experience proved to me, telling yourself you don’t have the requisite skills to be successful will only hold you back. I’m not suggesting you should be unrealistic—after all, I know I’m never going to be an Olympic runner. However, there’s nothing stopping you from achieving a goal within the realm of possibility: not your body, your brains, or your natural aptitude for a task.

While hard work and persistence got me across the finish line of my race, those aren’t the only things people can tap into to realize their goals.

Fouad ElNaggar, CEO of mobile development platform Sapho, has eight more:

As you can see, none of these things require an ounce of talent. So next time you want to make your dreams come to life, remind yourself you have what it takes.

Have you had any experiences like my cross-country one? Would you add anything to EINaggar’s list? Let me know on Twitter!