The first thing to realize about becoming successful is that, like beauty, success is mainly 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 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 doesn’t happen that way.
Very few people in life 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 success, most people realize that persistence is key and that it’s more about hard work than luck.
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 only seeing the tip of the iceberg, not the years of hard work and toil behind it.
Take Sean Hopwood, President of (now global) translation services provider Day Translations, as an example.
He didn’t turn his one-man idea 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 tough decisions.
If you’re going to commit to becoming successful, you’ll have to make some tough decisions along the way.
You’ll need the courage to act on your instinct and stick to your goals despite obstacles.
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 they need to make tough judgment calls.
Every day will not 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.
In his famous TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek talks about how you need to focus on the long term and the big picture.
Find your “why” and what motivates you daily – not just what you enjoy 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, just look at Obama’s response in his tweet about the Charlottesville violence.
A high IQ, 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 must understand and tolerate the surrounding people – to interact, be seen, heard, understood, and liked.
This applies to start-ups looking to lure investors or when putting together a diverse team of thinkers who can spur your company to success.
Emotional intelligence 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.”
Enjoy the journey to becoming successful
So if you’re impatient with your quest to get 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 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.
Can you share YOUR own experiences?