Some people — Ben Franklin, Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey jump to mind — seem born for success. But don’t think the same couldn’t be said about you.
While we can’t all have our faces on the $100 bill, be a television icon or lead a corporate empire, we certainly can make our own success.
That may not mean earning millions — in fact, money may not even be a primary goal for you — but it can mean having a satisfying career, a fulfilling family life and enough wealth to see you through a rich and rewarding retirement.
(Also check out: “The 10 Commandments for Wealth and Happiness“).
How do you become successful? It’s simple. You follow the lead of others who already have.
You see, most successful people share common traits, and they’re really not that hard to duplicate in our own lives. And principles apply regardless of your specific definition of success.
Following are 10 traits that all successful people have in common. Such people are:
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You can spend life meandering about, waiting for a job to fall into your lap or that golden opportunity to arrive gift-wrapped at your front door. But you’ll wait a long time, my friend.
Successful people don’t wait for life to happen to them. They have a plan for how they want life to pan out. Then they set goals for how to make that plan a reality.
We like this quote attributed to industrialist Henry Ford: “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”
It’s a reminder that breaking down those big goals into bite-size pieces can pave the way for success.
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Thomas Edison is famously reported to have failed 1,000 times before inventing the light bulb.
Whether that figure is inflated is irrelevant. The point is clear: People who are successful fail, fail and fail again before they succeed.
Abraham Lincoln endured a string of political failures prior to reaching the presidency. Before he became a best-selling novelist, Stephen King was rejected by publishers time after time.
Successful people don’t pack up their toys and head home the first time something doesn’t go their way. Instead, they keep plugging along, and that persistence helps them find success eventually.
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For successful people, learning doesn’t end with their formal education. Most understand they don’t possess all the secrets to the universe and strive to become lifelong learners.
Albert Einstein reportedly said, “It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”
Assuming Einstein actually did say that, he might have been a little too modest about his intellectual abilities. However, he makes a good point about success.
Although some wildly successful people are natural brainiacs, most possess the same gray matter as the rest of us. They simply recognize there is more to learn, and that understanding gives them the tools and resources needed to reach their goals.
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Along those same lines, let’s take a moment to hear from Socrates, who said: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing and that is that I know nothing.”
Socrates may have been speaking on the importance of continual learning, but he also offers a reminder on the importance of self-awareness.
The people who find success are the ones who know who they are. They know their abilities and limitations. As a result, they focus on where they excel, and they leave other jobs to people with different talents.
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No guts, no glory, right? Some of the world’s biggest successes have come from taking risks.
When the iPhone was introduced, it was a significant risk for Apple. It was a risk for Oprah Winfrey to dump her successful syndicated talk show in favor of starting a cable network. Entrepreneur Richard Branson has made risk-taking his ticket to success even though he had at least 14 failed businesses along the way.
However, these risk-takers aren’t making dumb moves. The risks they take are calculated. When they fail, successful people take the time to learn from their own mistakes.
6. Quick-thinking and decisive
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Slow and steady may have won the race for the turtle, but it’s not a particularly good strategy when it comes to human success.
A lot has been written about how the model of business success is moving from one of stability to transient competitive advantages. In fact, 81 percent of consumer products executives told EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young) that faster decision-making was of critical importance.
However, being decisive is important outside the business world as well. If you stall for years while trying to decide whether to move your family, change careers or go back to school, you lose precious time that could have been used to build up your success. Instead, make your decisions promptly and move forward without looking back.
7. Good communicators
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Successful people are also good communicators.
From Frederick Douglass speaking out against slavery to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump trying to get your vote, successful people articulate their ideas clearly.
If you’re worried that you’re not an effective communicator, take heart. Even billionaire investor Warren Buffett was at one time terrified of public speaking until he repeatedly practiced and became a master.
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Some people simply ooze enthusiasm. You spend a little time with them and find yourself as geeked about their projects as they are.
Enthusiastic people create success because they’re passionate. They love what they’re doing, and we all naturally gravitate toward those who radiate excitement and self-confidence.
As a result, rather than working alone, an enthusiastic person garners a tribe of people working toward the same goal.
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The most successful people among us are those who can keep themselves focused and on task, a truth underscored by the well-publicized fact that many high-achievers rise each day long before the sun.
Accountability is part of their commitment to self-discipline. Successful people realize that at the end of the day, they alone are responsible for their accomplishments — or failures.
In other words, they have taken Plato’s words to heart: “The first and best victory is to conquer self.”
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Finally, perhaps the most important characteristic of successful people is that they work hard.
A U.S. Trust study released in May surveyed individuals with investable assets of at least $3 million. It found that 77 percent of wealthy individuals reported growing up in middle-class families or poorer.
That means most financially successfully people didn’t have their money handed to them — instead, they likely worked hard for it.
If you aren’t willing to put in the hours and make some sacrifices, you might as well get accustomed to mediocrity. The best things in life — whether that’s money in the bank or a great relationship with your spouse or child — typically come only with significant effort.
What traits do you think have contributed to your success, or lack of it? Share your thoughts in comments below or on our Facebook page.