Every successful person is different and achieves success in many ways.
But they all have something in common:
They follow these 11 rules no matter what, to the absolute best of their ability.
1) Always stay thirsty
Successful people aren’t complacent, and they never lose their wonder and curiosity about the world.
They tend to be interested in many different subjects and perk up when they hear about something they don’t know or find unique.
This is something you can notice all the way from Elon Musk to Isaac Newton and George Washington to Gandhi:
They were all smart, certainly, but they were also filled with an enormous curiosity in a variety of subjects and learned from what happened in their lives.
By being open to the experiences that came their way, they were able to often enter into various fields of expertise and inspire and teach others they came across with their discoveries.
This is a key ingredient of success:
Stay curious. Stay thirsty. Keep your eyes open.
2) Double down on your passion
The next of the rules successful people live by (and never compromise on) is doubling down on their passion.
At the same time as they’re always curious to learn something new and broaden their horizons, they double down on what they’re best at.
For example, Renaissance painter, philosopher, scientist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci was an incredible painter and intellect.
He doubled down on his key talents of being observant, detail-oriented, skilled at drawing and curious and put them together into more and more useful and incredible discoveries and inventions that changed the world.
He kept expanding and branching out, but it was always by doubling down on the qualities and skills he was best at.
The successful person finds out what he or she is best at and pursues where that leads.
3) Be guided by visions, not dollar signs
The most successful people I know were motivated by what they were skilled at and loved to do.
They had a vision and they followed it, adapted it and intensified it, learning from their mistakes and boosting their triumphs.
They were guided by a vision, not just a profit model.
That vision may be idealistic such as helping children to read in developing countries or it may be fully pragmatic such as developing environmental packaging alternatives to plastic.
It could be a new way to generate energy, or it could just be designing amazing and durable clothes at a fair price with a fair trade economic model.
Ensuring your ideas have a sound financial base and can succeed does matter, of course. But it shouldn’t be everything…
The vision is up to you, but the profits should never be the primary motivation.
4) Surround yourself with people of integrity
We all come across all sorts of people in life. Maybe we grew up in a rough situation or have family members or colleagues who bring out our worst.
You can always learn something, even from complete assholes who get on your last nerve.
But one of the top rules successful people live by (and never compromise on) is surrounding themselves with people of integrity.
This means that in their business and their personal life, to the best of their ability and control, they choose to associate and become involved with people who:
- Tell the truth
- Follow through
- Respect themselves and others
5) Help and learn from others
Successful people consistently stay curious as I mentioned, and they also are always on the lookout for win-win situations.
The most successful and appreciated people I know and who I have studied always have this in common:
Where they can see a way to create a win-win venture, technology or deal, they go for it.
In this way, they often go down in history as individuals who were able to bring things together.
- Warring sides of conflicts
- Issues at the heart of inequality and injustice
- Understanding and peace in the midst of chaos
- Wealth and solutions instead of zero-sum rivalries
Successful people like to make deals, join people up and see everyone smile.
The truly successful person doesn’t want a victory that rests on somebody else’s humiliation and debasement.
6) Ditch the victim mentality
Life hands all of us a lot of disappointments and U-turns.
Anybody who says they haven’t been sorely disappointed, saddened or frustrated by certain events in their personal or work life is simply not being transparent.
We all have, to varying degrees and in varying ways. It’s the human condition, really.
That’s why the victim mentality is so damaging:
It’s something you can cling on to feel special and uniquely targeted by life and its injustices.
And even if you are, in certain ways, it only ends up making you feel more at the whims of outer forces, people and trends.
The victim mentality is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and successful people have no patience for indulging in it or those who do.
7) Cooperate and collaborate when you can
In addition to leaving the victim mentality in the dust, successful individuals can check their ego.
I’m not saying they never have an ego.
But they learn to control its more impulsive and reckless aspects and to try to work with others when possible.
There are many situations in life, love and work when you’re much better off listening and working together than on demanding to be the only one who’s voice matters.
Which brings me to the next point:
8) Alternate between being a leader and a follower
The successful individual has no ironclad rule on being a leader or a follower.
They are willing and eager to switch as necessary.
Sometimes they decide leadership is necessary in an area of their life or work; other times it is best to sit back and listen and learn.
There are so many different situations and topics that come up from day to day.
The truly successful person gives people the benefit of the doubt and never gets locked in their role.
They may be the manager of the company but still take a genuine interest in what the janitor is trying to say about their impression of the company.
Or they may be the janitor and have a plan to transform cleaning products in a revolutionary way, but still stop with interest to listen to their friend who’s an accountant talk about the financial side of starting a product line.
The successful person leads and pursues their goals but also stops and listens to the focuses of others at times to learn twice as much.
9) Learn to depend on constant change
The one thing we can always depend on in life, love and everything else that we come across is that it will always change.
Even the perfect home will age and have issues with time…
A job we’re perfectly suited for at 20 may not be the one we find ourselves in at 40.
Our interests and passions, friendships and relationships may also evolve in many ways with time.
The successful person embraces this constant change, finding stability in their acceptance of that fact of life.
10) Manage money wisely, but don’t be miserly
Successful individuals get a handle on money and manage it wisely.
But they aren’t misers.
Like I mentioned earlier, they care about profits and having enough wealth to build a comfortable and pleasant life that looks after those they love.
But money is not their primary or only motivation, and they don’t think of it like a scorecard or a measure of worth.
Money is a tool and a way to get things done and that reflects what we’ve done.
It has value in what it’s used for. The successful person cares about money, but they ever worship it and they’re generous when they can be and when it’s well-advised.
11) Use failure as fuel
Successful people use failure as fuel.
Not only can you learn from your failures, you can also draw enormous motivation from them.
The actor and former wrestler Duane “the Rock” Johnson says that failure and disappointment is what pushed him to keep training hard and never give up.
He’d already been at the bottom, and he’d do anything it took to not go back there.
Harry Potter author JK Rowling put it even more memorably:
“Failure became the rock solid basis on which I rebuilt my life.”
What is true success?
What is true success?
The definition varies by culture, generation and individual.
Is it happiness or having a stable job? Is it a healthy family with good careers or a wild life with many ups and downs that results in the creation of a masterwork novel that changes the world?
Maybe it’s both?
Happiness and success is not up to anyone else to define for you, which is part of what makes it both intimidating and exciting to discover.
This is your journey:
But you can be very sure that if you follow the rules above you will find success in whatever you work toward.