Have you ever wondered how truly successful people like Bill Gates, Richard Branson or Muhammad Ali became successful and continued to excel? I sure have. I’ve always been fascinated by what makes people successful.
This was probably because I wasn’t very successful in school. It wasn’t until I discovered and started applying what I learned from competitive sports, biographies and books by Stephen R. Covey and Tony Robbins that things began to turn around for me.
A lot has happened in the 25 years since I nearly flunked out of school. I’ve read hundreds of personal development books, obtained three psychology degrees, and trialed-and-errored my way through my own personal-development journey.
As a psychologist, I’ve assessed and treated everyone from hardened criminals to anxious executives. I now work with athletes, executives, academics and entrepreneurs to help develop their personal and professional potential.
Throughout the last 25 years, I’ve discovered five (learnable) mindsets that set apart the achievers from the rest of the world:
1. Successful people know and accept themselves.
They know their strengths and weaknesses. They accept themselves for who they are and work with or around what they are given.
Think of people like Bill Gates or J.K. Rowling. They accept and work with their introverted personalities. They don’t try to be something they aren’t. If they’d spent their lives fighting against their introversion, we likely wouldn’t be enjoying the fruits of their labors today.
2. Successful people set goals congruent with their personality, values, interests, strengths, skills, mission and purpose.
Not based on their immediate urges, moods or circumstances.
Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela and Oskar Schindler all lived their lives based on who they really were, what they valued, what they were good at and what they realized their mission was. Some of them paid dearly for pursuing their path. But I doubt that any of them would have had it any other way. Friedrich Nietzsche aptly said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
3. Successful people know they have much more control over the trajectory of their lives than others realize.
At the same time, they know that even though they are steering their ship, they can only control themselves. They understand and accept that they can’t control what the world throws in their path, but they can control how they react to those obstacles. They know that they can anticipate and act before the world acts upon them. They know that if they keep pushing forward they will eventually reach their destination.
4. Successful people accept that they will repeatedly go through tough times.
Tough times are par for the course for those who do big things. They know that’s how the world works and don’t fight or complain about it. Without difficult times and failures, there is no learning, no growth. They know that nothing worth achieving comes without a struggle. They know there’s a difference between suffering and struggling.
The Dalai Lama wrote, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Successful people struggle and feel pain, but don’t suffer because they are living their lives and pursuing goals that are in line with who they are, what they value, and what they believe to be their purpose or mission. To them, it is worth it.
5. Successful people know that once they get to their destination, they will find another.
Because of this, they accept and enjoy the struggle, for they know that the journey is the destination.
To achieve these learnable mindsets, start with these five tips:
Learn as much as you can about yourself.
Learn more about your personality, values, interests, strengths and skills. In my new book, ACHIEVE: Find Out Who You Are, What You Really Want, And How To Make It Happen, I offer tips for figuring out your personality and applying that to achieving more in your life.
Make smart decisions.
Big and small decisions should be made based on what’s really important to you and your purpose, not on what the situation pulls you toward or based on your mood.
Act within your control.
Control the only thing you can control: yourself. Don’t be a victim to life. Push forward and act before life acts upon you.
Reframe setbacks and failures.
Depending on your interpretation, they can destroy or improve you. See setbacks as opportunities for growth and improvement.
Be stingy with your time.
Make sure you’re spending your time on something that is worth it. Realize you only have one life to live, so enjoy the journey.
Too many people live below their potential. Don’t let one of them be you.
Dr. Christopher Friesen, Ph.D., is a psychologist who has always been fascinated by what makes people successful. He is a licensed clinical and forensic neuropsychologist who now primarily helps professional, national/Olympic and up-and-coming elite athletes, as well as other high achievers such as professionals, entrepreneurs, executives, academics and writers, achieve their personal and professional potential. He is currently director of Friesen Sport & Performance Psychology and is the author of ACHIEVE: Find Out Who You Are, What You Really Want, and How To Make It Happen. To follow him or to find out more, visit FriesenPerformance.com.