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Factors That Contribute to Success

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How often have you admired a successful business person, politician, performer or activist? How often have you wished you could emulate their accomplishments? Several studies of successful people have found that they share certain characteristics. Five specific factors seem to crop up when discussing the secrets of successful people.


Charisma is a little like the old joke about pornography--we can't define it precisely, but we all know it when we see it. Charismatic people seem to make an instant connection with others. More importantly, they inspire others to loyally follow them to achieve lofty dreams and goals. People are naturally drawn to charisma. They want to watch charismatic leaders, relate to them, and move in their circles. Not every charismatic person succeeds, but all successful people possess some form of charisma.


Successful people step outside the norm and try something that has never been done before. They are willing to risk being unpopular until their new ideas and behaviors show themselves to not only work, but work better than older ideas. Think of Christopher Columbus and his willingness to put his life on the line to prove his theories about the world.

Self Discipline

Successful people demand a lot from their followers; they also give a lot of themselves. Successful people do not leave projects half done or talk about what they may do "someday." They discipline themselves to work hard and fulfill their commitments every day.


Walt Disney went bankrupt after a company he began in Kansas City, Missouri failed. Henry Ford's first five businesses failed before he popularized the assembly line. Successful people don't quit. In the face of failure, they pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and throw themselves right back into the battle. As a boyhood opponent of future President Andrew Jackson used to say, "He's easy to throw, but he don't say throwed."


Successful people don't act randomly and hope good things will come of their actions. They have a large-scale plan, and every move they make is goal-directed. They know that one deliberate action surpasses a hundred blind reactions. Successful people also look at and revise their plans every day. If circumstances change, if one part of the plan is not going as well as hoped, they rework the plan to incorporate the new reality. They stay true to their vision, but know that the best means for attaining that visions may change with the times.


Debra Stang is a licensed social worker and freelance writer. Her work has appeared on, Bella Online, the National Association for Social Workers website, and Open Travel Info. Her brochure for bereaved families, "What to Do When a Crisis Occurs" won a Missouri Hospital Association award.

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