What do you believe are the “secrets” to success? Do your circumstances dictate your destiny? How about your intelligence? The family you were born into? An excellent public education? An expensive college degree? Government-provided social programs? Plenty of capital? Great credit?
Or do the successful have something afforded to all of us, but practiced by few?
Millionaire Richard St. John was sitting on an airplane one day when a teenager in the seat next to him asked, “What leads to success?” Born into a poor family, and struggling in school, she needed desperately to believe that her circumstances didn’t define or limit her destiny. As Richard shares, “She wanted to make something of her life.”
Having barely passed high school himself, and having been a self-described lazy underachiever, St. John had “somehow” gone on to great success. As he pondered the teenager’s question, he wondered what exactly had set him apart from his peers, especially since so many of them had appeared to have all the advantages.
His curiosity piqued by the girl’s sincere question, over the next decade Mr. St. John interviewed 500 successful people and studied thousands more, both famous and unknown, seeking to uncover the “secrets” to success. As he accumulated and organized the data, he noticed the same 8 themes repeated over and over again. The most interesting discovery? Not one of the common traits shared by all who rose to success in their fields can be inherited, purchased, or given to anyone. The government can’t give them to you. Your family can’t give them to you. The bank can’t give them to you. Your boss can’t give them to you. The best education in the world can’t give them to you.
Indeed, each of these character traits, delved into more deeply in Richard St. John’s book “The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common: 8 to Be Great,” are ultimately the responsibility of the individual. He shared them all in this inspiring 3-minute speech delivered at a TED conference:
I want to flip the question: Since we can’t blame unequal circumstances for a life of mediocrity, what do you think are the character traits that KEEP individuals from success?