The first thing to realize about becoming successful is that, like beauty, success is largely in the eye of the beholder. What may look like the pinnacle of accomplishment to one person may be someone else’s stepping stone to the next big thing – or something perfectly repugnant – depending on their point of view.
But whatever success looks like to you (whether it’s a happy family with three kids and a golden retriever, or being the owner of a multinational company), successful people share many traits. The end result may look quite different, but the path to success is similar.
How do you know when you’re on the right path? Here are three realizations people have on their way to becoming successful.
3 Realizations People Have on Their Way to Becoming Successful
1. It’s more about hard work than luck.
It can be tempting to get swayed by seemingly “overnight” successes and tech unicorns like Uber and Pinterest. Or perhaps a friend or colleague got the promotion they dreamed of or a place in an ivy-league college. They’re so lucky, right? They hit the jackpot and it happened all at once!
Yeah, probably not. It really doesn’t happen that way. There are very few people in life who reach success by buying a winning lottery ticket or being in the right place at the right time. Even having a great idea or product concept isn’t always enough.
On their way to becoming successful, most people realize that it’s more about hard work than luck, and that persistence is key. Being a successful entrepreneur, businessperson, or just getting what you want in life requires A LOT of persistence.
When you take a successful company or situation at face value, you’re really only seeing the tip of the iceberg, not the years of hard work and toil that went in behind it.
Take Sean Hopwood, President of (now global) translation services provider, Day Translations, as an example. He didn’t take his one-man idea and turn into a multi-million dollar concern overnight. It took years of persistence and hard work.
“People thought I was crazy at first for quitting my job, they couldn’t understand how I could connect people and make money out of the internet. But I knew there was a huge demand for language and translation services. I started as the only employee. I sold, translated, project managed and even answered the phones. It was hard work but it paid off in the end, we’re now present in every country in the world.”
2. You have to make the tough decisions.
If you’re really going to make a commitment to becoming successful, you’re going to have to make some tough decisions along the way. You’ll need courage to act on your instinct and to stick to your goals no matter what obstacles you face.
That might be leaving your 9-to-5 job and risking taking the leap out on your own, or it could be a lackluster economy, one rejection after another, or letting people go. Whatever it is, successful people realize that they need to make tough judgment calls. Every day isn’t necessarily going to be a walk in the park.
Passion is helpful when pursuing your dreams. But passion, or just loving what you do, isn’t always enough.
Simon Sinek talks about that in his famous TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action about how you need to focus on the long term and the big picture. Find your “why” and what it is that motivates you every day – not just what you like doing.
No one enjoys crunching numbers or firing employees. But if you stay focused on your goal, you’ll stay firmly on your path to success. Hopwood confirms, “…being successful is about making hard decisions and you have to stick to them.”
3. Emotional intelligence is worth more than your IQ.
If you need confirmation of this, just look at Obama’s response in his tweet about the Charlottesville violence. Having a high IQ, being an exceptionally good programmer, writer, singer, or whatever you’re skilled at, isn’t usually enough.
To be successful, you need a high level of emotional intelligence. You need to be able to understand and tolerate the people around you – to interact, be seen, be heard, understand, and be liked.
This is especially applicable to start-ups looking to lure investors, or when putting together a diverse team of different thinkers who can spur your company to success. Having emotional intelligence on your side helps you resolve situations and defuse conflict to get the best out of your team.
“I’ve learned that having an idea isn’t enough. When expanding and working with people from all over the world, you need the emotional and cultural intelligence to keep the fresh ideas coming, to reduce conflicts, and to keep on growing.”
So if you’re impatient on your quest to getting what you want, just remember the plight of the many successful people who’ve gone before you. It doesn’t happen overnight. Becoming successful takes hard work and persistence.
You’ll have to make difficult decisions that may cause some loneliness along the way, and you’ll need to understand and interact with people who can help you. These are just three realizations that people have on their way to becoming successful, but there are many more besides.
Can you share YOUR own experiences?