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The Real Secrets of Successful People

Updated on July 24, 2012

The Secret of Success

In the 1987 film starring Michael J. Fox, "The Secret of My Success," the main character, Brantley Foster, a recent finance graduate, lands a job in New York City, only to be laid off before he even starts. He must then settle for a job in the mailroom of a corporation led by his uncle. To get ahead, he poses as a finance person at the same company and somehow organizes a take-over of the company when he realizes that his uncle and the other corporate leaders are making poor decisions. He triumphs in a few short months through deceit, smarts, and good luck to win the company and the woman he wants.

Obviously, success doesn't come this quickly in real life but plenty of people manage to become sucessful doing what they love. They make a lot of money, have the respect of those around them, and surround themselves with people they care about. How do they do it? What's their secret? Is it luck? Do they have rich parents? Did they win the lottery? Do they have great connections? Are they super intelligent? None of the above, according to Richard St. John, a researcher, writer, and speaker on the topic. After interviewing over 500 people, including Bill Gates and Martha Steward, Mr. St. John has determined that there are 8 traits of sucessful people. Read on to learn how you can cultivate these traits in yourself.

Richard St. John's 8 Secrets of Success

  1. Passion: The first secret of successful people is passion. We've probably all heard the saying, "do what you love and the money will come." According to Richard St. John, this is true for those he interviewed. Many of those he talked to said that they would actually pay someone else for the privilege of doing what they do. Unfortunately, many people choose a career just because they think they can make a lot of money. However, if you're unhappy at work, your employer will notice and you most likely will not be successful. So most importantly, find a way to turn what you love into your livelihood.
  2. Work: It's very difficult to get ahead and be successful if you're not willing to work for it because the harder you work at something, the better you'll get at it. The great thing is that if you're doing something you're passionate about, it shouldn't really feel like work. Instead, you'll have a lot of fun! So follow tip number one above and you won't find it difficult to work hard. In fact, take a tip from the billionaires interviewed by 20/20 and integrate your personal and work life rather than keeping them separate. That way you'll always be plugged in and engaged.
  3. Focus: Being focused on a specific area is the third secret to success. The more focused you are, the better you'll be at what you decide to do. So pick something you love, focus in and work hard! It will lead to success.
  4. Push: This attribute of successful people is related to your mental attitude more than physical work. Many people are affected by lack of confidence and self-doubt. When successful people feel this way, and they do, they push through it. If they need someone else to help them (hello mom!) they ask for support. Keep pushing yourself and you'll find success.
  5. Ideas: Many successful people built their passion around a great idea. In order to have great ideas, you need to be interested and curious. Ask questions, listen, make connections and strive to solve problems. Bill Gates had the idea to start the first micro computer company, an idea he was passionate about. He focused in, worked hard, pushed himself, and became one of the richest men in the world.
  6. Good: Successful people get really good at what they do. They practice and practice, which isn't difficult since they love what they do so much. Being really good at something is one of the keys to success.
  7. Serve: Many people want to be rich and they'll make their career and life decisions to meet this goal. The interesting thing is that those who are doing something solely for the money usually aren't successful. In order to see success, you must serve someone other than yourself. If you're running a business, you're serving your customers by solving a problem for them and meeting their needs better than anyone else. If you focus on serving others instead of just making money for yourself, the success and money will come in time.
  8. Persist: Richard St. John isn't the first person to make the case for persistance as a key to success. Dr. Angela Duckworth has also cited what she calls grit as a key attribute of successful people, even over intelligence. She developed a test and what she calls a grit scale that measures how well someone persists and therefore, how successful they might be. It makes sense. I'm sure you know someone who's really smart but isn't successful. Likewise, I'm sure you know someone who's very successful yet didn't get the best grades in school. This success can often be explained by persistance and the ability to keep at something even when faced with severe obstacles and repeated rejection.

What about intelligence? Intelligence is conspicuously missing from the list of attributes leading to success. I truly believe that a person doesn't have to be highly intelligent to be successful. A high IQ may help but without the other integral qualities that the successful exhibit, that intelligence would be wasted. So if you don't get straight A's or qualify for Mensa, don't fret! You can still be a success in life.

Take stock of where you stand. Be honest in your assessment or ask someone you trust to help you. If you find that you're falling short in any of these areas, you may want to consider making some changes to your life. Good luck and here's to finding your passion!


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    • SD Dickens profile image

      SD Dickens 5 years ago

      Hi Kasman - Thank you for your kind words...I'm happy this was inspiring to you.

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 5 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      This hub was meant for me as a push to keep inspiring me. And inspire me it has. Thanks for writing it.

    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 5 years ago from Olney

      I totally agree with what you write. Apart from the attributes you mention I think we can replace intelligence with street smarts. Super hub. Voted up.