17 things successful people won’t tell you about success

Success looks easy on other people. It’s normal to think they have a magic potion. But they don’t. 

Successful people just know what it takes to reach goals. And they live by this knowledge. The keys to success are hidden in plain sight. It’s fair game.

I’ve done a lot of self-improvement over the last few years, putting snippets from social media posts and interviews together. Successful people won’t spoon-feed you, but they drop hints about success for anyone who’ll listen. 

Here’s what I’ve rounded up:

1) Success is fake at first.

Here’s the thing: 

You can’t become successful if people don’t believe in you. But people rarely believe in unsuccessful people

Solution: fake it. 

Faking success and confidence is strategic. Many people who inspire you did this. Some shape their personal brand. Others build belief in their idea. 

Projecting an image of success can attract it. 

Successful people know they need clients, investors, and career opportunities. Faking confidence and success helps them attract these. 

If you start living how the successful version of you will, you’ll create habits that help you achieve the life you want. 

2) Success starts with habits.

Because there’s truth in things that sound cliché. Aristotle said it best: 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” 

Having small, intentional habits will improve your life. You don’t have to wake up at 5 am. Start by putting things back where you found them. This helped me spend less time looking for stuff, which gave me more time doing the things I needed them for.  

Intentional habits align with goals. Think about what you’re doing now that’s preventing you from reaching success. Then change it. Form new habits that will make time your friend. 

Once your habits become an unconscious part of your day, staying consistent will be easier.

3) Success requires consistency.

Famous Youtuber Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast, started uploading videos to the platform in 2012. He only went viral in 2017

Like habits, consistency supports success. You can’t make it big after trying for a day. It can take months, even years, of consistent actions to build trust, credibility, and progress toward your goals. 

Consistently popping up will also get you recognized. You’re bound to spark curiosity in people who see you again and again. 

4) Success isn’t a one-person show.

Do you really think celebrities, politicians, or your favorite entrepreneur got where they are without any connections? It’s much easier to make it big if you know the right people.

We can’t all have millionaires in our contact list, but networking is a big part of success. So, do this:

  • Start by attending events where there are people you’d want to work with. 
  • Reach out to them on social media with an appreciation for their vision. 
  • Join groups where you can mingle with like-minded people.

Your chances of making an impression on someone who could help you reach success are better when you show up. 

5) Success happens after multiple ideas. 

Successful people rarely get where they want to be with their first idea. Many have two, three, or even four other careers or ideas before reaching their goals.

Martha Stewart worked as a fashion model and stockbroker before she became a household name. 

Vera Wang started as a fashion editor. 

You can build on small successes. Pivoting is okay too. You’re bound to grow on your journey to the top. The key is to maximize your strengths and never run out of ideas. 

6) Success requires sacrifices.

Literally. 

Becoming successful takes more determination than you can imagine. Successful people often prioritize work over family or sell assets to bring their vision to life. 

Don’t look at successful people and think they had it easy. Even trust fund babies have to put in the work. 

Find balance while you’re chasing dreams. But prioritize whatever fuels you and brings you closer to them. And take whatever risks you have to. Every time. 

7) Success requires risks. 

Because many breakthroughs happen when you take risks. Successful people challenge the status quo and explore uncharted territories. 

This doesn’t mean you need to invent flying cars or code a TikTok competitor. Doing certain things you’d usually run from is a great start! 

Here are some risks I’ve taken:

  • Pitched an idea to my boss
  • Stepped out of my comfort zone and volunteered as an event photographer
  • Applied for a job I never thought I’d get

You’ll hear “no” a lot. But people who keep trying eventually get lucky!

8) Success capitalizes on luck.

Hollywood manager John Crosby signed Charlize Theron after he saw her arguing in a bank. Fitness superstar Kayla Itsines used Instagram to organize before-and-after photos of personal clients. She gained thousands of followers and soon released her first training program.

These are examples of sheer luck. Some successful people have this too. But without ambition and drive, it would have gotten them nowhere. Luck isn’t all it takes.

You still have to put in the work. Luck requires you to trust your gut and act on opportunities. Taking chances can get you a YES!

Luck can push you forward. If you hit a lucky strike, you need to capitalize on it. Immediately. 

Not feeling lucky? Don’t sit around waiting for your big break. Try until you attract what you need to create it. It’s what successful people do.

9) Success is what happens when you try harder.

Ever heard the term “work smarter, not harder”? Yeah. Don’t buy into it.

Successful people work hard. They put in a lot of effort to be better than you. It’s got little to do with technique.

You could have the same or even better ideas as someone succeeding right now. But without doing what needs to be done, you won’t get where they are. 

People who reach success tried harder than you think they did. 

They did more work. 

Put in more effort. 

And stood up once more than you did. 

10) Success is better than perfection. 

Successful people aren’t bothered with being perfect – at least not right away. If you keep clinging to an ideal idea or time, you’ll stay stuck. 

Authors write multiple drafts, inventors experiment, and artisans have many failed projects before creating a masterpiece. 

Don’t try to think of the perfect idea or create the perfect product. You should focus on offering a service or product that people will want to use and pay for.  

11) Success doesn’t have one path.

There’s no ideal path to success. The journey looks different for everyone. 

I know it’s easy to get caught up in someone else’s milestone, but you really shouldn’t. Success is personal.

Focus on your talents, strengths, and vision. Add a few mentors and stay positive. 

Don’t compare how you climb to the top. The only important thing is getting there without losing yourself in the process. 

12) Success happens when you stop seeking approval. 

Does the fear of judgment hold you back? Successful people don’t care what others think of them or their crazy ideas. You’ll never reach your goals if you seek approval.

Family or friends might think your ideas are silly, but you have a worldwide audience. Someone will find it interesting, helpful, and valuable. 

Stop asking people for their opinion when they don’t understand your vision. 

13) Success should be your escape.

Do you want to spend your days painting? Or use your time to write a book? Would you like to create magical interiors? Or be at the forefront of developing a new way to grow food?

Whatever you succeed in should be your escape. That one thing you look forward to doing. The thing that makes you forget about whatever you need to face outside the bubble you’re in with it

If you don’t love doing what you’re trying to succeed in, chances are you won’t. And if you do, you’ll stay miserable every time you need to do it, no matter how much money you make.

14) Success happens when you say no.

I used to have a hard time saying no. If this is a major challenge for you, too, read these words until they truly sink in:

It’s okay to say no.

Ever since I’ve been doing it, I feel less stressed, burned out, and unsuccessful. 

Successful people have mastered the art of saying no. They know how to set boundaries and avoid over-commitment. Every time you say “yes” to something, you place a new limit on the time you have to develop what you’re already working on. 

15) Success doesn’t live in the past.

You’ll fail a lot on your way to success. But don’t dwell on it.

Milton Hershey watched three candy-related ventures fail before succeeding with Lancaster Caramel Company and milk chocolate.

Successful people embrace the 5-minute rule. There are many versions of this, but here’s the one you need:

Whenever you do something that fails, grieve about it for 5 minutes. You can cry, shout, hit a cushion, or sit silently. When the 5-minute timer goes off, move on. 

You can still think about your failure or how you can learn from it but don’t dwell. Make peace with what happened and focus on progressing from there. 

16) Success is the reality of your visualizations.

Manifestation is a powerful tool. If you stay focused on your goals, you unconsciously create paths to reach them.

Successful people are clear on their goals. They don’t spend time thinking about how they’ll reach these. Instead, they focus on what they want and train their mind to notice things that will help them get it. 

With practice, you can do this too. Manifestation takes effort. It’s not a quick fix. But if you do it right, it will work for you. Summed up, manifestation is driven by one thing: positivity. 

17) Success requires positivity.

Seeing a successful person unhappy is a rare sight. Positive people are more successful. The authors of this paper looked at studies of over 275,000 people. They found that happy people are less likely to do things that prevent them from reaching success in health, work, and relationships. 

It’s impossible to be positive all the time. Life happens. And sometimes, it sucks. But you can choose to focus on the good more often. 

Natasha Combrink

Natasha Combrink

Nats is a writer who loves creating content for purposeful brands. She enjoys spending time outdoors, crafting, and diving down rabbit holes. After rediscovering life, she wants to help others live to their full potential. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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