What Successful People Can Teach You

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by Jayaram V

Summary: Successful people as the role models can be an important part of your own success story.

Successful people are pathfinders. You can learn a lot from them by following their examples and techniques. They raise the standards of human achievement and show you what anyone can do with a given mindset, within the limitations to which you are subject. You can learn from them and even surpass them, writing your own stories of grandeur and excellence. Next time, when you read about successful people, pay attention to the exceptional qualities, which contributed to their success. See whether you can cultivate some of them and improve your chances of success.

The seven practices of successful people

The following principles and practices are gleaned from the lives of successful people. You can use them to boost your performance and realize your goals and dreams.

1. Successful people build their success around their strengths

Successful people rely upon the skills in which they are proficient. They make their best use, doing what they love and excel in it. They know clearly their strengths and weaknesses, and plan accordingly. They are realistic enough to accept their strengths as the foundation upon which they can build their success, while devising suitable strategies to work around their weaknesses. They know that as human beings, they cannot do everything on their own since they have to depend upon others to perform certain tasks or use their knowledge and skills to compensate for our own weaknesses. By using such clever strategies, they focus on their strengths and maximize their chances of success.

Working upon your strengths and compensating for your weaknesses is perhaps the best strategy that you can learn from successful people and use it in any profession you pursue. Whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur, you can put this strategy to work for you. Besides maximizing your chances of success, it will help you to reduce overexertion, chances of failure and unnecessary stress. Therefore, to achieve success in your life, you should make a realistic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, apart from what you can or cannot do on your own in a given situation. Using your strengths as your prime resources to reach your cherished goals, you can build your dreams around your goals. In this regard, you can use the suggestions mentioned in the following paragraphs.

Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Take professional surveys and personality tests to know what you are good at. Ask for comments from your friends and family members what they think about you. Grade your strengths and weaknesses on a scale of one to ten to know exactly where you stand regarding each of them. Now, find out your dominant desires and passions and see what you can do to satisfy them, using your strengths. It may be your communication skills. It may be your extroversion. It may be an artistic talent, intuitive ability or salesmanship. Identify your passions, connect them to your strengths, and create your central goals and purpose to create the life you dream. Once your goals are in place, see what you need to do to reach them. See how far your strengths will help you and how far your weakness will hamper you. See what you can do to overcome them.

For example, you may be good at writing and want to start a writing career through a blog or a website. However, you may not know much about the technology or the programming skills needed to create the website. You may seek the help of either a web designing company or a professional webmaster to build one for you, or you can find a web hosting company, which can provide you with the necessary tools to build one by yourself without any programming knowledge. Internet and local chambers of commerce and association are the best sources to know where you can find professional people with necessary skills to complete your projects.

Sometimes, you may find it necessary to work upon your weaknesses and improve them. On such occasions, you have to see the costs, time, and effort involved. It is much better, if you can frame your goals in such a manner that you do not have to rely frequently upon your weaknesses. However, it may not be a right strategy to build your success solely based upon your strengths, since it may limit your opportunities for success. Hence, you need a strategy, which will enable you to remain focused on your strengths and work around your weaknesses.

Not all are fortunate enough to get a job of their dreams. What would you do if you are stuck in a job that you do not like? If you are smart, you can still find ways and means to express your talents and use your skills to boost your career or professions. You can talk to your boss or your colleagues to see how best you can utilize your talents and make a name for yourself. If you are not willing to take major risks, you can use your talents to make extra income in spare time. If you are in a business or a profession, you can work around your weaknesses by finding a business partner who can take care of the areas where you are weak, or you may hire an independent professional or an employee who can do the work for you. You can also contract your work to another firm after negotiating the terms. When you choose any of these options, you have to make necessary inquiries to minimize your costs and the risks involved.

We do hire professionals to work for us where we do not have skills or knowledge, such as tax and legal consultants, but we do not follow the principle consistently or utilize our strengths adequately. Most people entertain such rigid beliefs and prejudices that they do not allow even their children to pursue their education according to their talents and passions. They want them to pursue their dreams according to their own expectations and failed ambition rather than what their children really want to do in their lives, whereby those children may spend the rest of their lives in frustration, blaming their parents or themselves for their unhappiness.

By answering questions such as the following, you can know whether you are building your success around your strengths or weakness.

  • What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • Am I using my strengths adequately?
  • How am I coping with my weaknesses?
  • How can my strengths improve the quality of my life?
  • What is my passion? Am I using my strengths to express it?
  • Was there an occasion when I was happy because I was able to use my talents and skills well and win recognition and appreciation?

Your desires are the doors through which your heart speaks to you about your goals and dreams. Listen to your inner longing to know what you want to do or achieve in your life and what makes you happy and fulfilled. Pay attention to the level of comfort you experience in doing things and studying subjects. Find out what you can do easily, what comes to you naturally, and which goals according to you express your life's hidden purpose. Success does not necessarily come from a heroic struggle or pure hard work, unless you match your vision with your passions and try to build your life around it with well-defined goals and good strategies. Know what you are and what you can do easily, and pursue it with resolve and intelligence, until the doors of success open to you.

2. Successful people are goal oriented

Successful people employ their energies and attention in the direction of their goals, prioritizing their resources according to their needs and aspirations, and relying upon their strengths to establish their goals. They focus on using their strengths to their best advantage to reach their goals, without being limited or hampered by their weaknesses. They create goals that define their lives and aspirations, and provide them with a vision of future, which they can translate into reality with their thoughts and actions. They use their goals to remind themselves of what they need to do to be happy and successful. Success is a self-actualization process, in which you make the best use of your resources, talents and skills to give expression to your inmost aspirations and the highest ideals, which you identify to be an integral part of your life’s purpose. In doing so, you either actualize your strengths or externalize them, in an attempt to become the best in what you chose to do. Simultaneously, you identify your weaknesses and make plans to prevent them from interfering with your goals or halting your progress.

When you align your goals with your strengths, you will find rhythm and harmony in your thinking and actions. You will feel inspired, energized and motivated to work for your goals, and as you rely upon your knowledge and skills in the area of your expertise, you will vastly improve the chances of your success, and your problems-solving and decision-making skills. You may also experience greater satisfaction and fulfillment, as your dreams begin to manifest. Your goals must speak for you and your life’s aspirations. Therefore, create goals that are in harmony with your abilities to increase your chances of success. Work for them with single-minded determination, using your strengths and working around your deficiencies in smart and intelligent ways.

Goal setting is a tricky process, which demands precision and pragmatism. Many people do not realize that in setting your goals, your heart is as important as your mind, and your goals should match your aspirations and inner strengths. Here is what you can do to create powerful and awe inspiring goals that propel you towards success.

  • Identify the central purpose of your life and build your goals around them.
  • Write down your goals for clarity and consistency, and keep them handy for easy reference.
  • Make your goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely).
  • Make sure that your goals are in alignment with one another and do not create conflicts or slow your progress.
  • Know what to do clearly to reach each goal, and to avoid setbacks and failures work out detailed action plans for of them.
  • Ensure that your goals are in harmony with your values, your sense of morality and personal ethics, and use the same approach for your plans and actions.
  • Keep ready alternative plans and strategies to deal with possible failures and setbacks, and subject your plans to reality check by questioning the assumptions and prejudices underlying your plans and decisions.

Whether you would like to disclose your goals to others or not, it depends upon how you want to pursue your goals and whether you would like to seek the help and cooperation of others, especially those who work in harmony with you. If your goals are going to create competition for you or if it attracts the envy or ridicule from others, it may be not in your best interest to disclose them to others. However, you should always share them with your spouse or your life-partner, whose cooperation is valuable to you and your success (unless of course you prefer to live alone.)

3. Successful people are focused and committed to their goals

A goal well remembered is well achieved. After creating goals, successful people remain focused on them, never doubting their ability to accomplish them. They constantly review their goals against their accomplishments and remain committed to them. They organize their lives around their goals, making sure that they are not distracted by frivolous activities. Failure does not deter them, or distract them, from their goals. Since they are realistic people, they deal with their failures and move on.

Your commitment to the goals you choose is equally important. With commitment, you enhance the chances of your success and your effectiveness in achieving the desired results. Many people acknowledge the importance of having goals, but do not show enough grit to carry them through until the end. Having established their goals, they go back to their routine and forget what they wanted to accomplish. If you want to realize your dreams and rise above mediocrity, you have to accept responsibility for your life and work for your goals persistently keeping them uppermost in your mind. Once you set your goals, you cannot relax. You cannot take a back seat and let go of your control over your life and actions. Your preparation must be complete and your effort must be sincere, drawing the right plans, making the right effort, cultivating the desired qualities and acquiring necessary knowledge and skills.

Goal oriented effort is very much like driving a vehicle towards a desired destination. Your journey does not end when you choose the destination. It actually begins with that. You will not find many differences in thinking and approach between the effort to reach a goal and drive to a specific destination. Both require a lot of effort, knowledge, skills, commitment, awareness and concentration. You have to know in advance or in time where to go, how to go, when to accelerate and when to use the breaks. You have to respect the rules of the road, watch the traffic and drive within the speed limits, as you remain focused on what you do and where you are going. Most importantly, you cannot fall asleep while driving. Successful people are self-motivators. They remember their goals frequently to remain inspired, accepting responsibility for both their successes and failures and willing to take necessary risks and make necessary sacrifices to reach them. The very prospects of achieving their goals keep them focused and committed. You can improve your focus and commitment to your goals, with the following guidelines.

  • Write down your goals and frequently refer to them.
  • Spend some time each day, thinking about your goals and performance.
  • Monitor your progress constantly against the plans you have drawn.
  • Visualize your success, the end you want to achieve.
  • Use positive affirmations to remain committed and focused on your goals.
  • Internalize your goals to let your subconscious mind know clearly what you want.
  • Read books and watch programs that keep you motivated and improve your knowledge and skills.
  • Minimize distractions and avoid wasting time on frivolous activities.
  • Make a promise to yourself that you will succeed, whatever may be the difficulties.
  • Associate yourself with right-minded people, from whom you can learn.
  • Whenever you are distracted or disturbed, divert your attention to your goals and to your current reality.

4. Successful people aim for excellence

Successful people are not merely interested in achieving success. They aim for excellence. To be different and distinguished for their performance, knowledge and ideas and to stand above the rest, they go the extra mile, pushing themselves and those who work for them against their limitations, focusing on the quality of their products and services, demanding the best from everyone and establishing higher standards of performance. For them excellence is the means to rise above their mediocrity and ordinariness, which plague many, by expressing what is the best in them. They seek excellence not to dominate others or neutralize their fears and insecurities, but for a genuine passion to excel, as the means to self-exploration, doing what they can in the best possible ways to test their limits, and stay ahead of others in both competition and achievement. Since they are not excessively concerned with self-esteem issues, they do not hesitate to admit their failures or learn from them.

When you aim for excellence, you set yourself higher standards of performance, constantly learn, and do not feel easily satisfied with your achievements. You invest energy and time in improving your knowledge and skills, paying close attention to the comments coming from others, and use it to evaluate your performance and motivate yourself to improve further. Successful people look for long-term success, based on their true abilities and hard work. They want to be trendsetters and leaders in whatever profession they choose. They also prefer building their success on a strong foundation of moral values and quality concerns, which stand the test of time. Here is what you can do to bring out the best in you and achieve excellence.

  • Resolve to bring out the best in you.
  • Do not settle for mediocrity.
  • Put service ahead of the rewards you expect.
  • Compete with the best of the best in the field where you want to excel.
  • Bring out quality and excellence into every aspect of your life, not just those aspects which receive maximum attention.
  • Do it for your satisfaction, not to impress others or prove your greatness to others.
  • Do it as a matter of habit, even while performing normal and routine tasks.
  • Do it for passion to set new standards and stand apart from others.
  • Challenge yourself every day to improve your skills and exceed your own expectations.

5. Successful people use their subconscious minds effectively

The conscious mind is what is awake and aware. It is the observing, analyzing and thinking mind, which we use to make sense of the world and deal with it. We rely upon our conscious minds to regulate our lives. However, our conscious minds have many limitations. They are rather clumsy and do not manifest reality, without corresponding physical action. The subconscious minds are more powerful and reliable instruments to manifest our desires. They work silently in the background, listening to our thoughts and intentions, and create conditions for manifesting them. Consciously, unconsciously, or intuitively, successful people know how to use their subconscious minds to improve their actions and chances of success. Your subconscious mind has no will of its own. However, it is subject to the will of your conscious mind, and works like a genie, accepting your dominant thoughts as its ultimate commands, always agreeing with them and obeying them. It does not always necessarily manifest the reality you desire, because it works in mysterious ways, following your deepest thoughts, which your rational mind may not even know that they exist.

From the earliest times, people have been using their subconscious minds to achieve their goals. However, it remained a guarded secret, confined to a few wise people. It was only in recent times that we have begun to understand its real value and importance in cultivating skills, reaching goals and solving problems. Some people excel in using their subconscious minds to manifest their goals. They know how to resolve their inner doubts and conflicts and direct their conscious minds to envision their goals so that their subconscious minds know exactly what needs to be accomplished. Since the subconscious mind is an inseparable part of our consciousness, we can learn to use it effectively to reach our goals and manifest our desires. Here are some useful suggestions, which you can use to unleash its powers.

  • Make your goals as clear and specific as possible to send clear signals to your subconscious mind and let it know what exactly you want. For better results, you may practice visualization.
  • Keep images and pictures of what you want to manifest in your life. Refer to them regularly.
  • Deal with your self-limiting and self-destructive thoughts and your negative self-talk to feel confident about the outcome of your actions.
  • Believe in your skills and abilities to reach your goals.
  • Believe in the power of your subconscious mind. This is important, because if you believe that it has no power, it will obey your conscious mind and act as if it has no power. The opposite is equally true.
  • Practice meditation. Through meditation, you can visualize your goals and leave their impressions in the deepest parts of your consciousness.
  • If your subconscious mind does not produce the desired result, try again, without losing hope.

6. Successful people aim for quality relationships

We hear stories of people exploiting others for their own ends, and discarding them once their purpose is served. By such means one may become successful, but at what cost? Of what use is the means, which degrades human character and elevates self-interest to the point of veneration? How can anyone be successful and happy, by ignoring the very relationships, upon which one’s success is built? People are intelligent enough to know when they are used or exploited by others and, unless there are compelling reasons, they would not let it happen repeatedly. People know instantly whether you are phony or genuine. They can read between the lines. They can know what you are up to. Once you leave an impression, it is difficult to erase or replace. You do not have to be a genius to spot opportunists and self-centered chameleons. Once you deal with them, you know. You may continue to talk to them and deal with them, but you no more respect them in your heart.

We find many successful people who are lonely with a limited circle of friends and family members. It happens because of the changes in thinking and attitude, and the problems and circumstances wealth create. However, we also find some who know the value of relationships and how to build them and keep them with honesty, respect and trust. They know the value of people who work for them or serve their interests and build relationships with them in mutually beneficent ways. They also know how to spot talent and encourage people to excel in their careers. Whatever limited relationships they may have, they maintain them well. Most of them also use their wealth, influence and connections for charitable and philanthropic purposes and pay back to society part of the gains they make as donations and grants.

To be successful, you do not have to be extremely outgoing. There are many successful people, who are introverts. What is important is the quality of your relationships, besides how you treat those who help you in your success and happiness. You must have the discretion to know who are trustworthy and who are not, and with whom to build relationships and whom to avoid.

With wealth and success arises responsibility. As you become a role model to others, you may have to make some adjustments and personal sacrifices to live up to the image, which people expect from you. You must be dutiful and responsible towards those who depend upon you and to whom you owe a debt of gratitude, besides being honest and transparent with your family members and closest relationships, letting them know that you love them and care for them. Most importantly, you must build relationships with people, who matter to you according to the good values as stated before. The following suggestions are useful in this regard.

  • Focus on quality relationships, by choosing your friends, mentors and well-wishers carefully. When you are successful, you will arouse the envy and enmity of many. Therefore, you have to be selective and careful in choosing and trusting your friends, business partners, associates and allies.
  • Many problems arise from expectations when they are not clearly communicated. Let your partners and friends know what you expect from them and what they can expect from you.
  • Trust builds when you keep your promises. There-fore, you should not make any promises, which you cannot keep.
  • You should accept responsibility for your life and actions, and not blame others for the problems and failures you may face.
  • You should be fair in rewarding people who work for you and contribute to your success and goals.
  • Be fair and impartial in your attitude, judgment and opinions.
  • Keep a written record of important decisions you make and the negotiations and agreements you reach to stay organized.
  • When there are conflicts, avoid aggression and confrontation and see whether you can resolve them amicably before you try other methods.
  • Treat others with dignity and respect, just as you would expect them to treat you.
  • Nurture your relationships when you climb the ladder of success so that they can be with you when you start descending.
  • Aim for win-win relationships, based on the principles of equality and mutual self-respect.
  • When you hire professionals to help you, check their background and competence. After you hire them, give them freedom to express their opinions, whether you agree with them or not, since the final decision always rests with you.
  • Help others, especially those you know, when they are in difficulties, or when they need help. Try to be generous with people who serve you.
  • Respect the freedom and privacy of those who work for you. Do not meddle in their private affairs, unless they ask for help.

7. Successful people are adaptable

Successful people are growth oriented. They do not become stuck in their lives since they are dynamic, flexible and adaptable in their thinking, and approach to changing circumstances. They constantly innovate and improvise to keep pace with the world and stay ahead of others, updating their knowledge and skills and making necessary adjustments to their goals, plans and programs. However, at the same time certain aspect of their personalities does not change such as their character and integrity. They keep their core values, in which they firmly believe, and their primary goals, which they pursue relentlessly. They are realistic enough to know what they can or cannot change where they can yield or compromise and how important it is not to take anything for granted. Their flexibility and adaptability help them to resolve conflicts minimize mistakes, and take corrective action whenever necessary. It also helps them to prepare for the battles of life, and resolve their problems and challenges, with awareness and understanding.

If you want to achieve and manage success, you need to know when to be flexible and when to be firm when it is appropriate to change your goals or your plans, and when you should stay the course. For example, if you start a new business and if it does not work out as expected, at some stage you have to decide whether to persevere and keep investing your time and resources in it or accept your failure and move on. You have to be honest and rational in your assessment of situations, problems, and your progress to choose what works for you, and discard what does not. While it is true that successful people persevere in their effort and do not easily give up, it is also true that they are realistic and practical enough to use their discretion and know when to hold on and when to let go. It is their discretion and adaptability, which makes them successful. The following suggestions are useful to build flexibility in your thinking and attitude.

  • Know that there is always more than one way to do anything, solve any problem or reach any goal. You have to find the best option in the context of your resources and your circumstances.
  • Do not go by surface thoughts and first impressions in reaching your decisions or conclusions. To avoid making mistakes, you have to dig deep into your own thinking and challenge any assumptions and irrational beliefs that may be responsible for your decisions and opinions.
  • Admit your mistakes, without letting your ego, pride and status come in between.
  • Have backup plans for important goals and actions, and take nothing for granted.
  • It is good to be an expert in any field, but you should not assume that you know everything, even if you have access to certain information, which is not readily available to others.
  • Listen to others, and pay attention to the inputs and criticism coming from them.
  • Learn from your failures and mistakes.
  • Do not categorize people into stereotypes. Treat them as unique individuals and see what you can learn from each of them.
  • Have an open mind and keep looking for opportunities to know, learn and improve yourself.
  • Question your assumptions and constantly challenge your ideas and beliefs.


We all have the potential to be successful, irrespective of our age, gender, family or financial status. Your chances of success increase greatly when you have an opportunity to align your goals to the best of your abilities, and do what you naturally love to do. It gets even better, if you can bring your values into it. To be successful, you have to identify your strengths, and use them in creative and intelligent ways. You have to establish meaningful and well-defined goals that are in alignment with your personality, hopes and aspirations, and working for them with conviction, commitment, perseverance, integrity and faith. Since you cannot achieve success entirely on your own, you must look for people who can help you to achieve your goals, and participate in your success as your friends, allies, partners, well-wishers, associates, or independent professionals. You have to be consistent in what you do and keep doing it until you achieve your goals, minimizing your mistakes and distractions, improving your skills and knowledge, and learning from your setbacks and failures. You should know clearly what success actually means to you, and how relevant it is to your life’s overall purpose. You should know what makes you happy, where your interests are, and what you should do to keep yourself happy and fulfilled. They should be part of your definition of success so that you can build it on a solid foundation of good values and principles, without subjecting yourself to moral conflicts and dilemmas. In short, you have to build your success according to your strengths and the basic values in which you strongly believe, with clear aims and a central purpose that defines you and sets you apart.

Bhagavadgita Translation and Commentary by Jayaram V Avaialbe in USA/UK/DE/FR/ES/IT/NL/PL/SC/JP/CA/AU

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