What Makes Successful People Successful? - Common Sense Living Newsletter
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What Makes Successful People Successful?

May 19, 2015


I brought him a gift. A squeaky stuffed chew toy. Excited, he began chewing on it. Took me a while to figure out he was trying to get the 'squeak' out of it.

And I watched as that stubborn little dog tirelessly chewed on that toy for a day and half, only stopping to eat, sleep and go for his walk, until he had worked his way through wool, cloth, cotton, and plastic, when triumphant, he ripped it to shreds and pulled out the 'squeaky' part.

I've never had a dog so as I watched Max, the term 'dogged determination' finally came to light for me.

Dogged determination... stubborn perseverance, tenacity, unwavering focus, a refusal to let go, to stop, to give up no matter what...

I do some things well. I improve in some areas when I work on them. I am trying to become a better speaker, better writer, better leader, better thinker, healthier, more balanced... but do I have that focus? A puppy made me wonder...

We're always reading stories about people who are successful. We read articles that tell us what they eat and drink, how they act and think, what their highly effective habits are, and what makes them special...?

It's not that they are more intelligent, if that's what you're hoping for... there are loads of intelligent people who never make it to where they want to go.

Are they just luckier or 'blessed'? Maybe in some ways, but everyone has good luck and bad luck and eventually most of the time it all balances out.

Truth is they are exactly the same - the successes and the failures; the ordinary and the extraordinary: some are smart some are not; some are talented some are not; some wake up early, some sleep early, and some like Einstein apparently stayed awake for several days at a time; some are vegetarian, some don't eat dairy, some live on McDonald's; some work out at 5 am, some run at midnight, and some are, believe it or not, couch potatoes...

So then what is it that sets them apart...?

If it's not their habits we should be emulating... if it's not their philosophies we should be imbibing... what is it that separates the so-called successful from the rest of us?

What makes successful people successful?

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." - Calvin Coolidge

More important than passion, more important than anything really, is persistence. Persistence makes sure that you don't see an obstacle and interpret that as the end of the road or as failure. Instead you climb that mountain, break down that wall, fight that bear if you must, to keep going on, even if you're battered, bruised and bleeding by the end of it.

Success is an uphill battle
Source: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek / Shutterstock

This may sound dramatic, but it's not. It's true. Pushing through difficulties is the single most important difference between failure and success.

So what does persistence mean? It's not just a quality that you have or don't have. It's not just a habit that you can adopt after 21 days of practice (or whatever new habit-forming theories are out there). It's a set of behaviours... an attitude...

It's zeroing in

Identifying your focus. The thing you have decided to be dogged about. What is your squeaky toy? If you were granted one wish what would it be? Most people don't know what they want. And that's okay. Just pick one of the things you want, narrow your focus down to it, and everything else will fall into place.

 Keeping your eye on the ball

Once identified, your focus cannot shift every time you see a shiny object. Having one single-minded focus will help you make all the right decisions to achieve what you want. All dilemmas will end in one answer... what gets me closer to my goal?

Swallowing your pride

Failure stings. And that's why most people give up. But in that one moment when something didn't work out, and you're hurt or embarrassed or feeling like a fool, and the world is pointing and laughing at you - you have to decide whether to give up or go on. In that moment of decision lies the difference between success and failure. Thicken your skin, swallow your pride, and persist.

It's sacrifice

You will have to give up a few things today to get what you want tomorrow. Give up sleep today, to get wealthier tomorrow. Give up sweets today, to get healthier tomorrow. Make those sacrifices - and it is, beyond a doubt, easier said than done. In this environment where everyone is talking about work-life balance - this kind of focus might skew your balance until you reach your goal. And this is something you have to come to terms with...

It's patience overcoming frustration

Sometimes you will find yourself running around in circles. You try and try and nothing seems to work. Other times you will find yourself sitting cross-legged inside the circle tapping your fingers... waiting. Waiting for a path to open up, to see a way forward, a plan to come through... Sometimes it doesn't come through and you have to start all over again. As Margaret Thatcher said:

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.

You don't have to be genius, talented, lucky or extraordinary in any way to be successful. All you need is to grab onto that dream like a puppy holds on to his toy... and don't let go till it's yours.


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17 Responses to "What Makes Successful People Successful?"

Tanmay Satam

11 Aug, 2015

Thank you very much for this article. It just helps me to not lose hope and keep trying harder. It'll keep me going. Thanks.

Dr. B.C Manjula

06 Aug, 2015

Very encouraging and thought provoking .Fantastic story.This is what i required the most .Thanks.

Benny George Adappur

17 Jul, 2015

This was what I really wanted! A very different idea from other self help books. I am going to keep this article for ever. Thank you very much!

Raj K.Garg

28 Jun, 2015

I feel rejuvenated after reading and pondering on the contents of this article. Thanks

Ganesh Hiregoudar

09 Jun, 2015

Very inspirational and motivated to read your articles, thanks a lot

Rakeshkumar Rana

28 May, 2015

Truly Inspirational!! I have been reading CSL for long time and certainly it pumps me up to take a plunge in what I feel I should be destined to do... I will keep trying until I succeed ....and your stories will keep puppy in me awake all the time..!! Let me know if I can add few write ups to add spice to somebody's life....

Like (1)

mandadi pardha saradhi

23 May, 2015

Truly inspirational and acts as stimulant to be persistent.

P. A. Kishore

23 May, 2015

An excellent article in all respect and its contents need to be kept in mind always to dispel despair and frustration while struggling to succeed in life.


22 May, 2015

This life-coach article has been produced so beautifully that every sentence carries an useful message. A very brief article that has not missed out the purpose and easy to read,comprehenseive and above all motivating. congrats.


20 May, 2015

thanks for elegantly crafted words for inspiration and motivation.

Like (2)

g k agrawal

19 May, 2015

Not necessarily, all successful persons may have similar driving force behind them.

Like (1)


19 May, 2015

Very nice and thought inspiring. Wonderfully written.

c s sarmah

19 May, 2015

How to identify a successful, it's a relative terms. For self success means achieving , fulfilling one's aims in life.For a doctor's success means how close he could be to patients as a life saver. I mean if one could be an asset for the society gevis successful in real sense.


19 May, 2015

IF ,direction of journey is wrong can anyone reach his destination just persuing without review ?

Like (1)

g k agrawal

19 May, 2015

Each success story may have its own footsteps and experiences, not necessarily uniform one with other success stories

Manish Buddha

19 May, 2015

All articles of Common Sense Living are really very good, totally "Out of the Box" approach... I like them very much, and they are very useful to me... not just in my professional life but also in personal dilemmas and personal problems/difficulties... Thanks.


19 May, 2015

I have read quite a few articles but this one is something that really has made me realise that "success will come about" with hard work and determination. Excellent Job :)

Like (1)

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