Success comes so easy to me, said no one ever. Hear successful people speak, across any field—sports, business, arts, sciences—and they all say they had to persevere and work hard to get to such heights.
Most people consider themselves hard working, but success still doesn’t seem to knock on their doors. Working hard isn’t enough. They say you’ve got to work smart.
But, that isn’t all. What creates the difference between the most successful people and everybody else? It’s not just working hard or smart or both. They do certain things right—successful people all exhibit traits that pitch them way above their competition or everyone else in their fields.
Let’s take a look at just three, albeit surefire, traits of the world’s most successful people that can change your life for the better.
1. Successful People Just Do It
Just how many times have you dreamed of something that you wanted to do in life or in business, but you pushed it aside for later? We all have our reasons or excuses, and we all have one thing in common—we procrastinate.
Don’t worry, everyone procrastinates, and we’re wired, in a way, to do so. The prefrontal cortex, located immediately behind the forehead, is a portion of the brain that allows you to integrate information and make decisions and get the job done. But, that’s not automatic; you have to kick yourself into gear.
Stress or anxiety about starting a task can keep us from acting. But, the moment you start acting, the anxiety starts to wear off.
There’s a simple trick for getting started with whatever it is you feel can set you on the path to success—break your task down into many smaller bits, or devote yourself to doing a part of the task each day for just 15 minutes. And then go back to doing whatever else you had to do.
All you need to do is start, and start small. Steve Jobs started Apple in his parents’ garage, along with high school buddy Steven Wozniak. Ryan Hoover started Product Hunt with a simple email list. I started my mobile app development company with just a website.
2. Successful People Are Persistent
“Too many people take no for an answer far too easily,” says Vinod Khosla, one of Silicon Valley’s best-known venture capitalists. He’s the Sun Microsystem co-founder who, during his stint as CEO, jumped on a redeye flight to camp out in a customer’s lobby when he heard it was planning to defect to a competitor. After two days, he left with a handwritten contract!
Do you know what Angry Birds, J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, and the Beatles have in common? They were rejected many times by their publishers, record labels, or venture capitalists before they found success.
Do I really need to spell out why Angry Birds found success after 52 iterations, or Walt Disney got financing at the 303rd attempt?
“Persistence is the fire you keep trying to start inside yourself until it grows and becomes bigger and bigger,” says James Altucher. He adds, “Accepting that suffering is going to happen, and understanding that accepting that suffering ultimately leads to success, is the key to persistence, is the key to ultimate success.”
A burning desire will get you started, but keeping your mind focused on the reason you started will help you keep that fire burning.
3. Successful People Always Move Out of Their Comfort Zone
In Richard Branson’s book The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership, he says, “Those people and businesses that are generally considered fortunate or luckier than others are usually also the ones that are prepared to take the greatest risks and, by association, are also prepared to fall flat on their faces every so often.”
Your comfort zone is a behavioral space in which your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk. It provides a state of mental security. Benefits are steady performance, low anxiety, and reduced stress.
But, steady performance is not what you’re after!
In order to maximize performance then, you need a state of anxiety—with stress levels slightly higher than normal. This space is called “optimal anxiety” (since too much anxiety and stress can be counterproductive)—that which is just outside your comfort zone.
If you step out of your comfort zone, you’ll be more productive and will have an easier time dealing with unexpected changes. You’d be able to push your boundaries further, thus bringing in results that you’ve never experienced before.
Mark Cuban says, “It doesn’t matter how many times you fail; you just have to get it right once to be successful.”
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