Successful person

Why some people achieve success and others don’t

As a coach having worked both in South Africa and overseas, I have had the privilege of working with people from many different backgrounds. Some have had privileged upbringings while others have had humble beginnings. I have worked with people from different cultures with different values and beliefs and I have witnessed people from all these different groups achieve success.

So what causes some people to be successful, while others seem to continually struggle?

It isn’t culture and it isn’t upbringing. It certainly isn’t any of the stereotypical categorisations we give one another like race, gender or religion.

The biggest difference between successful people and those that aren’t, is that successful people don’t let life happen to them. They take charge of their lives and are proactive. They don’t sit around complaining about how unjust life is. They just get on with it. If something doesn’t work, they learn their lessons and try again.

“Success is achieved as a result of your mindset and perseverance.” 

Successful people have a more positive mindset. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t realistic. They know that life has its ups and downs but they have a positive outlook on life and don’t dwell on the negative. They are people of action, knowing that you have to work to succeed. There is no such thing as a free ride.

Common obstacles to success

While socio-economic and political factors present some challenges to success, they cannot be used as the sole excuse for not achieving success in a relatively stable environment. After all why do some people thrive in these environments and others don’t? The reason for success, or lack thereof, lies within the individuals.

What I have noticed, particularly here in South Africa, is that in general people who can’t seem to get ahead share the following traits. (And yes I am generalising).

Playing the blame game

The blame game has become very popular amongst South Africans. From political parties to individuals, people are more often pointing fingers accusingly at others.  The blame game seems fun to play after all it means someone else is responsible for what is happening, or what has happened in your life, in other words you are absolved of all accountability.

This “victim” mindset is incredibly disempowering. It belies the fact that you are not helpless. Irrespective of circumstance, you control your life. Yes bad things happen and life isn’t always fair, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still succeed. Instead of focussing on what happened, focus on what you yourself can do in order to make your life better.

Lack of responsibility

People who achieve success know that they are responsible for taking action in order to achieve their desired results. They don’t wait for someone else to do it for them, or for their “knight in shining armour” to come along and save them. Yes it is good to have a support system, however the ultimate responsibility to act lies with you.

Unfortunately we live in a world of entitlement. Too often people expect things to happen for them, and aren’t prepared to put in the effort to achieving success themselves. Then when life does not work out how they wanted, they moan. If you want to change your life, you need to take action. No one else can live your life for you, only you can.

A closed mind

By refusing to learn, and refusing to see things from a different perspective you cannot grow as a person, nor overcome the challenges you face. The path to success always brings forth new challenges and obstacles and it is only those who are open to new ways of thinking, to trying different approaches and to learning new skills that will succeed. A person with a closed mind will just shut the door on potential success as they haven’t got the tools and strategies to handle the new obstacles.

Commitment to succeed

How badly do you really want to change your life? How badly do you want to succeed? As they say talk is cheap. Every person wants to live a happy life and they want to achieve whatever their definition of success is. Those who succeed are committed to succeeding, and do what they can to ensure success, while others procrastinate, make excuses or give up when the going gets a little tough. So in order to succeed you need to be committed.

Now of course these aren’t the only obstacles to success, there are other reasons like lack of self-esteem, or fear. But even then you have got to ask yourself  why. Why are you stuck when others from a similar background have succeeded? It isn’t to say success is always easy, however if you have a positive, open mind and you take responsibility for your life, and you commit to changing your life, you will eventually succeed.



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