Lists of N things about successful people are like a magnet for clicks. Yet, most (if not all) of these lists have close to zero practical value.
Successful people do lots of things, the main being being successful.
The appeal for posts about what successful people do comes from an erroneous belief that doing what they do will make someone like them – successful. Apart from a difficulty in understanding the complex causality of success, there is an even worse flaw: not looking for disconfirming evidence.
Let’s say that successful people drink water, but so does everyone including people who are not successful (rich / famous), broke, homeless etc. The drinking water example is self-evident and the same flaw in logic applies to other things successful people do. Here’s a debunking (short) list:
1. They Never Make Excuses
So does a single mother of 3 who has a minimum-wage crappy job in an area with high unemployment. She doesn’t make excuses. She takes all the shit she’s given because the little money she makes puts food on the table for her three children. Moreover, there are at least 10 other people who are waiting to take her job.
So, NO! She doesn’t make excuses because she has no choice.
2. They Are Willing to Fail
So are / were all those who failed several times and still haven’t made it big. Taking risks is, indeed, a part of achieving success. At the same time, taking risks is what made lots of people bankrupt or even homeless. The very word risk involves (at least some) good luck if the outcome is positive.
3. They Wake up Early
So do bus drivers, taxi drivers, train drivers, people who work in coffee shops and dinners that serve breakfast, those who sell newspapers etc. Basically everyone who you see working during your morning trip to work has woken up at least two hours earlier than you did. Most of these jobs aren’t exactly known for their high income and career development opportunities.
4. They Believe in Themselves and their Vision
Again, so did those who failed big time! So do narcissistic idiots – believe in themselves and in their vision of themselves being awesome regardless of reality. So do delusional people and ones who suffer from paranoia (they believe in their vision).
So did all the horrible dictators around the world and throughout history. For example, Hitler strongly believed in himself and in his vision of exterminating all the Jews in Europe.
I am aware that some might argue that Hitler (and other horrific dictators) was successful, but regardless of any arguments, I hope that the second most horrific dictator in the history of humanity (after Stalin, just in case you were wondering) isn’t a role model for anyone (in their right mind).
5. They Work Hard
So do millions of people who work on minimum wage. If you don’t believe me, try waking up at 3 AM during a blizzard, go out and start shoveling. Working hard is related to success, but it is not the only thing. You can work hard and end up nowhere because you never had the opportunity. For example, if you’re an African American born and raised in the poor neighborhoods of Baltimore, your chances of getting out of poverty and ending-up in the top income bracket (i.e. reasonably rich) are slim at best, regardless of how hard you work. Lots of people work hard and barely make a living.
NOTE: the 5 things about successful people I selected from the top 3 articles in the google search for “things successful people do”. For accuracy Art1, Art2, Art3
The key factor in success is luck. This, however doesn’t mean that working hard, being ambitious and not making excuses don’t play a role. Without making this post any longer than it should be:
Success = (Hard Work + Skill + Drive + Vision)*LUCK