When it comes to success, it’s easy to think that people who are blessed with brains are the ones who will make it to the top. Common sense suggests that being smart inspires confidence. It does for awhile, but only while the going is easy.
The deciding factor in success is how you handle setbacks and challenges. People who are convivial and pleasant even in hard times tend to attract the right people around them. With the right people come the right opportunities.
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There is a reason why some people succeed almost all the time, and it has little to do with being smart. Instead, they develop personal habits that carry them through setbacks and challenges. They use mental toughness to master the art of discipline and become the right person at the right time.
Here is a list of personal habits for you to cultivate as well:
1. Forget Self-Improvement
The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because they understand their core strengths. They don’t waste precious time trying to fix their weaknesses. Too much popular self-improvement tries to build up a skill set or talent that is lacking.
Identify your strong character strengths and skill sets. Think about how you might use those strengths at work, in relationships, and at home. You’re also less likely to experience depression and other anxiety.
TIP: Bask in what is already great about yourself rather than try to fix what is not.
2. Savor “Me” Time
The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because they understand the value of time. They direct their efforts toward the most important things in their life. It is important that they impose effective time management skills and learn how to say no.
They prioritize what needs to be done from what would be nice to get done. People who savor “me” time are very good at cutting out toxic relationships that add no value. Small acts of self-care do not need to take up giant blocks of time. But it is important to allow yourself to indulge in the stuff that brings you joy.
TIP: Spend a little time and write down the things that bring a smile to your face. Find ways to incorporate these small acts of joy into your daily life.
3. Develop A Back-Up Plan
The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because they don’t leave things to chance. They have a back-up plan—for just about everything. From electrical outages to failed business plans, they create strategies that will help them move forward.
One of my favorite lines comes from The Eiger Sanction, a movie starring Clint Eastwood in which 5 men plan to climb the Eiger in Switzerland. Eastwood asks one of the climbers about the back-up plan in case they need to retreat. The climber replies, “I consider it self-defeating to plan in terms of retreat.” Eastwood’s character responds with, “I consider it stupid not to.”
Have a Plan B, because if Plan A is derailed, you can land on your feet and move right into Plan B. You might get blindsided by new competition, new regulations, or a turn in the economy.
TIP: Always have a Plan B to fall back on when things go wrong. And have other people available to help you execute it when the time comes.
4. Know What Makes Them Tick
The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because they pursue things that bring them value and meaning. They’ve figured out what makes them tick and they go for it. They edit the stuff that detracts from their pursuit.
Often, they make an extra effort to educate themselves about different issues and topics. This doesn’t mean they have loads of formal education, but they are curious. Most likely, curiosity is what alerted them to their passion in the first place.
TIP: Find something that provides you with value and meaning. It might be related to your job, or it might not. It isn’t always important to get paid. But do put your gift to use.
5. Unafraid Of The Unknown
There was a shepherd boy named David. He was not a warrior and he was small in size. David looked at a giant named Goliath and said “I will strike you down and cut off your head. ” That is exactly what he did. Challenges are only as big as we make them.
The runt of the litter takes on the giant. We love stories of the underdog who musters the courage and confidence to find ways of beating the odds!
According to the story, David ran toward the giant. As Goliath moved in for the kill, David noticed a gap in the armor that protected Goliath’s head. David reached into his bag and slung one of his stones. It struck on the forehead, the giant fell down on the ground.
TIP: To increase safety, move toward the unknown. When David moved closer to the threat, he was able to see where and how to strike. Opportunities not seen from a distance were made visible as he pressed forward.
6. Cultivate Kindness
The reason why some people succeed almost all the time is because other people like being around them. They attract other people who succeed almost all the time!
Being a do-gooder can increase your level of contentment. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but small acts of kindness can change your mental outlook. If the man standing behind you in the grocery line looks hungry and is buying one item, let him go ahead of you. Give someone a compliment.
What goes around comes around. If you are kind to others, there’s a decent chance you’re kind to yourself as well.
TIP: Try this 10-second exercise from Chade-Meng Tan. Identify two people in your office and think, “I wish for these two people to be happy and content.” Don’t say or do anything else. Since no one else knows what you’re doing, there’s no risk of embarrassment. It turns out that being on the giving end of a kind thought is rewarding in and of itself.