Why do some people succeed and some don’t?

When it comes to defining success, we usually have difficulties with this task. Indeed, we are not likely to hold a shared view on how to define and measure success.

It is worth commencing with emphasizing that success is the thing that everybody perceives and defines differently. There is no common measure of success. Nor is there a common definition.

What might be considered as success by one person, can have nothing to do with what another one believes success is.

Needless to say that the reason for that is huge heterogeneity in dreams, ambitions and aspirations everyone aspire to. Moreover, each person tends to measure his own success based exactly on them: for you it might be a success to earn 1 million dollars a year, meanwhile Elon Musk is willing to colonize Mars.

As a result, you will always be successful for people who consider you the one. Meanwhile they can be successful in something from your point of view because they have achieved something you have not.

Nonetheless, if we still try to design some standard of success that everybody would agree upon, the things discussed are likely to boil down to such indicators as financial freedom and recognition.

This is what we apply to distinguish the successful from the cohort of people that do not achieve outstanding results.

The thing is the ambitions are growing as you achieve them. Every time you accomplish something significant in your life, you set another goal which is bigger, better and probably more complicated to attain.

It is a never-ending pursuit of more.

If you ask a successful one about his success, you are likely to hear “Success? I would not call it so”. And the obvious reason for that is that he has already set another goal which he aspires to. Probably this is where he thinks his true success is.

Despite all the difficulties that are inherent in definition of success, in reality it is not a big deal to differentiate successful and not very successful people. And this difference appears obvious not only when you try to compare their accomplishments, but even earlier, when you compare their road to massive wins.

The beginning of the road to success looks like this:

  • they know what they want
  • they focus on their goals
  • they work hard to attain them
  • they face obstacles
  • they fail…


And this is where the majority opts out of the struggle and gives up. People who never achieve anything great find it totally find to settle for mediocre life and never achieve big wins.

And this is where the major difference is.

The successful proceed and make one, two, three….thousand (if required) attempts more to accomplish the things they want. And later those things will be defined by masses as a matter of success.

Their road looks differently:

  • they know what they want
  • they focus on their goals
  • they work hard to attain them
  • they face obstacles
  • they fail…
  • they overcome failure, learn a lesson and keep going
  • they fail again
  • learn a lesson and keep going
  • ….
  • the process continues
  • one day they win

One of the richest man in the world, Jack Ma, knows what it takes to become successful. He…

  1. Failed many exams at school: failed a key primary school test two times, failed the middle school test three times, failed the college entrance exam two times.
  2. Got a score of less than 1 percent on his college entrance exam. Jack Ma scored 1 out of 120 points on the math portion of his college entrance exam.
  3. Was rejected from Harvard 10 times. All 10 times he applied to Harvard, he was turned down.
  4. Was the only interviewee (out of 24) rejected by KFC. Out of 24 KFC applicants in his pool, 23 were hired.
  5. Was turned down for 30 jobs. After graduating from college, he applied to 30 different jobs and was subsequently rejected by all of them.
  6. Failed to convince Silicon Valley to fund Alibaba. It wasn’t profitable the first three years. In the beginning, they expanded too fast and almost imploded when the dot-com bubble burst.
  7. In 2014 Alibaba Group claimed the record for the largest US-listed initial public offering. Now the company founded by Jack Ma is known for its record-breaking IPO that was the biggest in the world.

Perseverance. Consistency. Focus

These are qualities that successful people share, meanwhile unsuccessful ones usually lack them.

Source: Max Lukominskyi on Quora.


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