What Do the Most Successful People Have in Common?
Are The Smartest The Most Successful?
Of course YES! That is what the conventional wisdom says. As kids in primary school, our teachers instilled this belief in us. Spend more time with your books, learn, learn and learn if you want to be successful in life.
That was what I was taught and I held onto that from Primary school through University. Fortunately, today I don’t have any formal examination to write, even though I learn every day, so that gives me reasonable space and time to pause and ask:
“It is true that the smartest are the most successful in life?”
I’m not going to explore the philosophy of what is success and what is failure because there can be as many definitions of success and failure as there are stars in the sky. Nevertheless, regardless of how I define success, I come to the same conclusion; the smartest academically are not necessarily the most successful. That kind of hurts, but that was the only honest conclusion I could arrive at. I try to look at every group of students that I was part of home and abroad and then sample a section of people I can call to mind and follow, not on twitter but in real life. These are the folks you would call successful, and of course you have the liberty to define success anyway you want.
After completing this exercise, the picture that emerges is a scarily a mixed bag: few of the people who made my list were very smart by the conventional definition of the word, some were average, and some were passing throughs, that is those who felt too school was not their thing but were just passing though to make mom and dad happy, anyway.
While classroom performance was not the common denominator that puts these folks in one class, there are certain factors that I identified common to all of them. In the coming weeks, I would be discussing each of these qualities in detail. This is not going to be ’14 Steps to be a Millionaire in 14 Days’ kind of stuff. In fact if I knew any secret like that, I would be in Jamaica on vacation at this hour. What I hope to accomplish is to share with you powerful qualities I have learned by observing a number of people in diverse fields and perhaps to attempt to convince you that the race is not to the smartest.
As a summary for today, in my assessment, the men and women I could describe as successful shared some traits which are also shared by some of the most successful people everywhere. Prominent among these traits are:
- The propensity to break rules: It’s unfortunate that this quality comes out first, but I can identify it in almost all the people that made the cut
- Passion: They just do something for the love of it
- Making connections: they just want to be noticed and known for reasons no one knows and sometimes makes no sense
- Curiosity: They desire to explore and ask stupid questions
- Risk taking: they do the things mom dreads of
- Persistence: they never take no for an answer
- Focus: they get fixed on their strengths and passions. Nothing else matters.
In the coming days and weeks, I will be discussing each of these success factors in detail with specific examples. Please check back and join to share your views and experiences.
Next on this series
Part 1: They Love to Break Rules
Please check back