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How to be successful in life – 3 ingredients and 2 qualities

Who doesn’t want to be successful in life ?

One of my favourite poems in school was “ Success is counted sweetest” by Emily Dickinson. 

Success is counted sweetest

By those who ne’er succeed.

To comprehend a nectar

Requires sorest need.

“ Success is counted sweetest” by Emily Dickinson

It is so true that success can only be well enjoyed and comprehended when it comes after tremendous efforts. Such success leads to the kind of confidence that helps one create that success time and again, even if he falls. 

As if he had cracked some magic formula. 

Does that really happen? 

Well – history is replete with examples of such individuals who have created success again and again – pointing to some framework of success instead of it being a chance matter. 

For example, when let go from Apple, Steve Jobs founded NeXT ( a computer platform development company) and PIXAR, a well known name in animation. 

I have lived in the era when I had read articles in local newspapers about Amitabh Bacchan going down with ABCL along with his movie career. And here we have him – still being called the biggest superstar India has ever witnessed. 

If these two are not enough – particularly interesting is the story of Robert Dawney Jr. – who suffered personal and professional setbacks due to his addiction to drug abuse. However, once decided to fight back, he came back and established his career again.

There are many more examples but you get the point, right ? 

What I want to state is that there is a success formula that many of us may have tasted in parts.

One that can lead one to awesome success if he fully applies it and sticks to it for a long time. 

From what I have observed in my own life ( through limited success I achieved in some domains) , with the right ingredients and a few key qualities, one can definitely achieve success. 

3 Ingredients of getting success in life

Let’s start with the 3 key ingredients that will help you become successful.

1. Focussed pathway for success

Achieving success starts with setting yourself up with a focussed pathway. This means having a clear goal or destination and then creating a map of how you are going to get there. 

Do not worry. I am not going to ask you to create goal charts. 

For now – just decide where you want to be in life, and where you are currently. This establishes a gap that creates the drive to get from point A to point B. 

Next, find the right set of mentors who have traversed the journey that you want to pursue. 

2. Right mentors for guidance

It’s important to find the right mentors that can help guide you on your journey. They can provide advice and support when you face challenges and can help encourage you to stay on track. Try to find mentors who have the experience and knowledge to help you reach your goals.

Remember – You can only learn to fly from a pilot. No one else can teach you to fly.

Be very cautious in choosing your mentors. 

For instance , If you want to become an entrepreneur, you must work with a founder who has reached the goal that you want to reach. If you want to grow in corporate life, then find someone who has a rockstar corporate career to boast about. 

Find them, connect with them, and try to work with them. 

I understand your concern – Not everyone who admires Elon Musk or Sundar Pichai will be able to work with them. 

But there are thousands of successful people who are not even famous – you can find them on social networks, Linkedin, etc and request to work with them. 

Idea is to choose your boss according to your dream.  

3. Deliberate Practice to get success

Deliberate Practice or Purposeful Practice as it is also called refers to a kind of practice where you subsequently take tougher endeavours to master a skill set in its completeness. It is different from regular practice that develops speed on a particular activity. 

Not all practice leads to riches. If that does not ring a bell, recall the factory workers who practice their skill thousands of times every day. Not all of them will achieve riches, but some of them may, who chose to improve their skills by expanding their scope. 

Significant improvements in performance were realized when individuals were

1) given a task with a well-defined goal,

2) motivated to improve,

3) provided with feedback, and

4) provided with ample opportunities for repetition and gradual refinements of their performance. 

Anders Ericsson, K. (2008), Deliberate Practice and Acquisition of Expert Performance: A General Overview. Academic Emergency Medicine, 15: 988-

Read Study by Anders Ericsson – Deliberate Practice and Acquisition of Expert Performance: A General Overview –

2 Qualities to get successful

In addition to the three ingredients, there are two key qualities that will help you become successful.

1. Risk-taking ability

To be successful, you have to be willing to take risks. Successful people are often willing to take risks and push themselves outside of their comfort zone. This means taking calculated risks and having the courage to try something new or different. 

Most of us try to follow the well established paths. If you are doing what 90% of people do, do not expect the results to be different than what they get. 

If you want to get what 10% of people achieve in the world, be willing to take the pathways ( read – tough pathways) that they undertake. 

That might mean for you to learn a different skill, if you want to grow in the job. Or leave your well paying job and venture out for your dream, if you want to become an entrepreneur.

2. Perseverance

Rarely ever, any successful person considers failure to be the end game. Most of them consider them to be learning curves towards success. 

They have the resilience to overcome any obstacles they face and the determination to keep going even when the going gets tough.

‘It’s not over until it’s over’ is what most of them think. 

If you think there is some mysterious luck that helps them succeed, look again into their career history. If you look into the details, you will find multiple failures undertaken to achieve one success milestone. 

Obviously the successful attempts get highlighted and picked up by media and the world, who fail to pick up the failed attempts behind the success. 

( Read : How to get Lucky – Understanding the Nature of Luck

That’s it. These are 3 ingredients, and 2 qualities needed for success. 

But wait. One last thing. 

It’s important to remember that success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work and dedication. 

Also success may mean different for each one of us. To balance out our efforts to increase our happiness, some of us may need professional success. Yet some others may prioritize success in personal endeavours. Financial goals may also be different for different people.

Whatever be your case, if you keep these ingredients and qualities in mind, you can give yourself a fighting chance of achieving success. 

Good luck!

Also Read :

How to get Lucky – Understanding the Nature of Luck

How to handle failures – create learning outcomes to be successful?

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