5 Fundamentals for Success in Life

5 Fundamentals for Success in Life

What can we do to become more successful? How can we excel in all areas of life, whether professional or personal? A vast body of literature has been written on this subject over the decades, but here are five points which I regard as being fundamental.

How to Be Succeessful in Life

1. Be Proactive

Viktor Frankl said that between stimulus and response there is a gap, and within this gap lies all our freedom. Even as he was suffering immense privations in a Nazi concentration camp, he realized that he was responsible for his thoughts and actions and was not simply a bundle of conditioned responses.

Like Frankl, we should strive to be the creators of our own destiny, orchestrating our experience of life. Everything starts in the mind and ripples out, so what happens around us is a reflection of our own inner world. Whether we allow our inner world to grow wild, whether we let weeds spring up and take hold or whether we cultivate a green and pleasant garden – it is all our choice: this is what it means to be proactive.

2. Take Responsibility

Since we have the power to choose our experience, we also need to accept responsibility for this. Perhaps not that everything that comes our way is a direct result of our own thinking (though some might say it is) but what we attract into our life is, largely, a reflection of our thinking. Much of this occurs on a subconscious level, but the subconscious takes its lead from the thinking mind, so changing our thoughts will change our world, and we are responsible for this.

Our behavior is a natural outcome of our mental images, and so we are responsible for our behavior too, and also for the behavior we tolerate in others. If we allow others to ride roughshod over us, then we have ourselves to blame.

3. Be a Good Leader

We cannot be effective in any area of life unless we have good leadership skills. Leadership is an art and each of us needs to find our own approach to it. Primarily, we need to understand how to lead ourselves, and this means having a compass, a direction which guides all our actions. This compass often takes the form of a personal mission statement, a document spelling out the values we live by.

As we lead others, whether as parents, bosses, in families or organizations of which we are a part, we need first and foremost to lead by example, making it clear what our values are and that we live by them. Any inconsistency in our professed values and our behavior will be spotted, seen through and will ruin our effectiveness. Personal complicity and double standards are the nails in the coffin of our ability to lead.

A good leader will lead quietly and subtly, from the rear, without fuss, without fanfare. In the words of the Tao Te Ching,

‘A good soldier does not inspire fear;
A good fighter does not display aggression;
A good conqueror does not engage in battle;
A good leader does not exercise authority.

This is the value of unimportance;
This is how to win the cooperation of others;
This to how to build the same harmony that is in nature.’

4. Don’t Let Fear Stop You

I love the movies of M Night Shyamalan. My favorite is The Village. The film is about facing the fears that haunt us and realizing that, when we do so, they disappear – nothing is as it seems. I heard once (though I can’t remember where) that the most commonly given command in the Bible is ‘do not be afraid.’

Whenever we grow, there is fear. Whenever we do something new, there is fear. Whenever we push ourselves to new heights or expand our comfort zone, there is fear. This is the nature of life. Life is always moving – either we are moving forward, growing, or we are moving back, dying. We have a choice – we can either grow or we can die. Growth and fear go hand in hand. It’s part of a package, and if we fail to embrace the whole package, we will die.

Don’t fear failure – failure is inevitable and necessary. Look at the life of any successful person and you will see a litany of failure. This failure is the foundation of success, so long as we learn from it.

Don’t fear other people. They are as vulnerable and as beautiful as you are – only sometimes they lash out in various ways to protect themselves. Everyone is doing their best, so be gentle on other people and don’t be scared of them.

When you face your fears, they will vanish like smoke.

5. Never Stop Learning

I have come to the conclusion that learning is the fundamental activity in a successful and purposeful life. If we fail to learn, we fail to grow, and this means that we die. Life gives us endless opportunities to learn, and the more difficult the situation, the more we are likely to learn.

We can learn from other people, especially difficult ones – they are like angels sent from heaven to teach us about ourselves. We can learn from the things happening around us. And most of all, we can learn by watching ourselves, seeing how we react and reflecting deeply on what moves us.

These five activities, if they can become habits, will lead to success in all areas of life. They are not a quick fix, but are the foundation of a life lived well.

Photo by pshutterbug

63 Comments

  1. Hi Michael,

    Great fundamentals on success.
    Fundas won’t change anytime.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks,
    Kannan

    Reply
    • Hi michael
      thanks to you for your fruitful advise.

      Reply
    • Point #4 is so true. Fear is such a familiar feeling to each and every one of us. And yet it is so powerful, it can cripple us or drive us to rise above our circumstances.

      Rocky Balboa once said, “.. Fear is a fighter’s best friend you know, it ain’t nothing to be ashamed of, you see Fear keeps you sharp, it keeps you awake you know what I mean it makes you want to survive, you know what I mean.”

      Reply
  2. Hi

    I also think it is important to enjoy the process, try to be in the moment. Don’t want to always be chasing the success.

    Juliet

    Reply
  3. I totally agree with this article. In order to expand into another perspective for more value, I would like to contributing my perspective of these five things :)

    1. Be Proactive- The body was never designed to be put into action where your desire is not found. The body was designed for the purpose of you experiencing the action of your desire already manifested, your thoughts/imagination were deigned to call forth what you desire that will manifest, and your feelings were designed to tell you how close your thoughts are to what you desire in experiencing the manifestation.

    We live in such an action-based world, that we think we must take action to get results and taking action is part of it, but only the actions that are inspired by the desire itself (the actions inspired by the visualizational process). Hence the reason why people don’t like work, the body was never designed for that (there is no desire in it).

    2. Take Responsibility- There is a doctor named Dr. Joe Vitale (http://www.mrfire.com/article-archives/new-articles/worlds-most-unusual-therapist.html) who heals patients without ever seeing them in person. Dr. Joe Vitale heals them by healing the part of his Self that created them in the first place. He takes the responsibility of creating not only his life but also everyone in it including everything he sees, hears, tastes, touches, or in any way experiences, because he realizes that there is no out there. In other words, when I receive negative feedback it is still part of my consciousness and reality. When I take responsibility for all of reality then I give myself the power to change anything within reality. It is the meaning or reason you give this for being in your consciousness and reality is what will determine the difference of how it will change.

    3. Be a Good Leader- “A true leader is not the one with the most followers, but one who creates the most leaders.” ~Neale Donald Walsch

    4. Don’t Let Fear Stop You- I heard once that the real sense and meaning of the word FEAR could be broken down like this:
    F=False E=Evidence A=Appearing R=Real
    When I first heard that description of fear a long time ago, I said to myself “That seems to speak truth within me, but if fear is false then why does it seem so real?

    I determined that real is just a sense (a belief, a perspective, a expectation, which gives rise to what is experienced), it means nothing “in and of” itself. Like a dream seems real while you are having it, until you wake up.

    5. Never Stop Learning – There are no positive, negative, or neutral ways to meet the need of growth. You are either growing or you are not. Everything in life is like the cycle of plants. Plants are always growing or they are dieing. If you are not growing as a person (to reach beyond your current understanding), then you are slowly dieing. The essence of all life, is growth. Everything in this world serves a purpose and if it does not serve, then it will eventual die and something else will grow in its place. All of nature runs on this circle. Growth is the essence of life itself. Without growth in a changing world, you will not succeed. Stop growing and you will definitely be unhappy.

    Yet, If nobody is growing with you, then you are not serving growth. Knowledge that is experienced, is not wisdom until it is shared. Individual growth, is not expressive without contributing.

    ….
    Thank you for contributing and thank you for the opportunity to express my contribute through a comment. :)

    Reply
    • @Nicholas Powiull, Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments, Nicholas.

      Reply
    • I love your acronym for fear. I think some fear is instinctual and part of our natural defense to keep us alive. However, I think we manifest a lot of false fears and draw to ourselves the things we fear the most because we can’t stop thinking of how fearful we are. Our mind is more powerful than we give it credit for.

      Your acronym strikes a significant truth in my life. My fears will go away when I “wake up”. I think the alarm just went off.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  4. It’s all about Being. As Julie said, it’s less about about chasing. I’d like to add to what Nicholas said with: it’s about being that creates the leader in you that creates more leaders.

    Reply
  5. Hmm. I really like your point #1. Proactive in action and thought drives change among other things. If you live by that you will not be following others, you will be leading which bleeds into the other points as well. Great article!

    Reply
  6. I find the opening of this post is really nice: a combo of questions. I have to try it for myself someday. Good job Mike!

    Reply
  7. Hi Michael, great stuff here. I love when you described about Don’t Let Fear Stop You and Never Stop Learning. They are my favorite topics.
    Thanks for sharing, Michael.

    Reply
  8. Hi Michael,

    Fear is a great obstacle that stops us in our tracks. In order to achieve success, there may times that we need to take a leap into an area that we are unsure of, but most of the time many failed at that point because people are fearful of the gray area that is filled with so much uncertainty.

    Being able to conquer fear is definitely one of the trait that we need to have in order to achieve success in life.

    Cheers
    Vincent
    Personal Development Blogger

    Reply
  9. I’m a big fan of Frankl and the Tao Te Ching so you had me at #1. With that said, however, I would say that your entire list could lead an individual down the wrong path if that individual had not first defined their meaning or measure of success.

    I have found that many individuals make the mistake of following social conventions and realize (if ever) that they were following the paved road and not their own path.

    Great list. Just remember that words, such as strength, weakness, rich, poor, and success can be quite misleading without individual definitions.

    “No wind serves him who addresses his voyage to no certain port.” ~ Michel de Montaigne

    Thanks for provoking thought…

    Reply
  10. Taking responsibility is an often overlooked factor of success. I’m glad you mentioned it. It takes guts to take a cold hard look at what you’ve been putting into your goal, especially if it’s not as much as you’d liked.

    Some say chasing success is not a good idea, because it can lead to let downs. Why not reach for the sun, if we fail, we’ll land among the stars. :)

    Reply
  11. What is Frankl that said that? I thought it was Covey.

    Reply
    • @Les, Covey draws on the work of Frankl.

      Reply
  12. Great overview of “how to be successful” advice. In some ways you could summarize all the above by saying do all the things you can do, and when you come across something you can’t do anything about, just accept it. :)

    Reply
  13. I had the privilege of meeting up with my father’s youngest sister Dawn Lawrence, along with her partner John Allan, the other day.

    Now John has an operatic background, and at one point, early on in his career, was the understudy for Placido Domingo who became world-renowned as one of ‘The Three Tenors’.

    John recounted some advice that he was given by the great singer that rang true to me and it went like this:

    Whenever you come to the opera house to do what we love to do – you leave your hat, your coat and your ego with the concierge at the door. When you have performed you pick up your hat, your coat but leave your ego there. It is now up to your audience and the press to tell you how good you were.

    No wonder he became such a world famous performer who commanded such love and respect.

    And as I have previously written – ‘your trumpet is always only for others to blow.’

    Reply
  14. “Don’t fear failure”- ABSOLUTELY it took me awhile to get that one down. Wish i had read your post a few years ago! There is no failure, everything is a learning experience. Thanks!

    Reply
  15. I think the most important aspect of success is to BELIEVE.

    The initial vision of an accomplishment and the belief that it is achievable is the impetus for almost everything great that has happened in the world.

    I first learned this from Think and Grow Rich, but it has been written about many times.

    Reply
  16. I agree with Juliet. You want to make sure you enjoy the journey. I would also like to add that the most successful people I know are also humble. It doesn’t matter what sort of product or idea someone has, if they are arrogant, there is no way I’m going to work with them.
    Great post!

    Reply
  17. Once again, another brilliant artcile!

    Reply
  18. HI,Michael

    i totally agree all those points who describes above. because all of points are necessary for success life.
    .

    Reply
  19. Thanks to all for your brilliant comments, and to Peter, as always, for his generosity in posting the article.

    Reply
  20. Great article. Keep up the good work. I posted this article on http://www.optimistlist.com for other readers to enjoy!

    All the best,
    John

    Reply
  21. Hi Mark,

    Great article! It is important that we learn to do these things to get more out of life. Thanks!

    Reply
  22. you are fantastic.What you said will psych me up for success. what i can tell you is that God bless you.

    Reply
  23. As a child up you dont understand the meaning of life. Honestly realization is another key, understand who you are first in life. Only then can you apply these tactics. Im 19 years of age, and until recently i lived 19 years inside my own box of reality. You can only decide when your eyes will open and see life. thus growing, you visualise success in your own mind. Self happiness is our main goal on earth sucess will follow. I come from a place where many people in poverty, die in poverty. think of it like this, life is one big distraction, succeed in living a honest life. No matter the bad decisions you have made good deeds out weigh them anyday. Live right after understanding your purpose and success shall find you.

    Reply
  24. hi
    Thanks am heading directly for my success in life now.
    Keep up with the wonderful jop

    Reply
  25. Personally i think it is all about your state of mind, if you focus all your energy into something and accept that you may have to make certain sacrifices to accomplish your dreams then i think anything is possible. Just remember you will always have people that doubt your abilities, just stay positive and focused and dreams can become reality

    Reply
  26. Good one. Thanks for this.

    Reply
  27. This is a great post Mark. The article emphasizes the quality of your Blog.

    I have always wondered how to get success in life and I have to the conclusion is that you have to be ambitious. I don’t mean being a daydreamer and having thoughts of driving around in fancy cars and having huge houses. This is incorrect. I mean taking actions/decisions on following it through to completion.

    Reply
  28. All the above mentioned points are for focusing to win in PROFESSIONAL life ..isnt it .. i dont see what for personal life? i think i won in my PROF carrier already, but stil not in my personal life.. i eanred money.. but i failed to keep my wife and parents happy, somehow something i am missing even though i spent good time with them, but stil not getting credit..

    something is missing

    Reply
  29. One doesn’t have to be a leader to be successful in life. So for me it is most important to constantly learn something new and try to stay informed, which is not easy today. I see a big difference in older people: people who are eager to learn into high age, who are interesting and living a quite full live, in comparison to people who have few interests and start complaining. – To have lots of interests and never stop learning is very important for your overall happiness and to be successful in life.

    Reply
  30. Thanks for the advise and its true, in addition we also need to take sometime to relax ourselves, to replenish our mind with good thing in nature, for us to be renewed and gain new strength that will motivate us to keep moving towards life.

    Reply
  31. @correlle.. i like that quote “there is no failure, every thing is a learning expirience”.

    Reply
  32. as i can figure out one of the fears definitions is to not know what the future come with and this is the fear of the future…

    Reply
  33. I especially agree with number 4. I think that’s perhaps the reason most people fail to succeed. If you look at anybody who has ever succeeded in life, they won’t have done it without ever being scared it’s not going to work out. I remember when starting my business, I was working every hour under the sun and sometimes I barely brought home enough money to buy a loaf of bread but I persevered because I had faith that it would get better, and it did. Another extremely important rule which I live by every day is to enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t like what you’re doing, change it. If at the end of a working week you can honestly say, if money were no object, that you would do your job without getting paid, then you’re on the road to success.

    Reply
  34. I think you also need to believe that there is ample opportunity for change and self-improvement. If you don’t there is very little chance for success.

    Reply
  35. Well, when I look around I see that many, many of the people who succeed in life are people who are open to taking short cuts, cheating and using friendships etc to get ahead. That is what I actually see. For example, a very nice person at work, who is also a good worker, has been offered a job at a much higher income. She has no particular expertise in the new role; she has gotten that job simply because she is a nice person and good at her old job and has friends. She will be earning about $20,000 more pa. There are plenty of people I work with who are under considerable stress and strain, and who have actually worked at that higher level and are very competent, but do not get the chance for that job. It has gone to someone who has the right friends. I see this over and over. I see this time and again. I know that it is a very negative way to look at this, but this is what I actually see. Once someone is doing well financially, there are so many other things that they can succeed at: buying a house, being well travelled, being well dressed, getting their kids into good schools, contributing to charity. There are certainly people I know who are successful because they have done all the right things, but so, so many get there by cheating. And it is so hard for them to fail once they are set on the road to success, no matter how they got there. I apologise for being negative, but I can only say what I actually see. Perhaps that is what I should do? Make friends and use them to get ahead?

    Reply
  36. I think that’s perhaps the reason most people fail to succeed. If you look at anybody who has ever succeeded in life, they won’t have done it without ever being scared it’s not going to work out. I remember when starting my business, I was working every hour under the sun and sometimes I barely brought home enough money to buy a loaf of bread but I persevered because I had faith that it would get better, and it did. Another extremely important rule which I live by every day is to enjoy what you’re doing.

    Reply
  37. A great article. I liked the part, whatever is in our mind ripples out and the outer vision is within our imagination. Lets me interpret in a new way.

    Reply
  38. I really share your sentiments. let us keep sharing our knowledge for the benefit of the unknown.

    Reply
  39. There are several boards, methods, theories, techniques on how to make money and succeed in life however say that there is no exact or approximate example of a methodology of how to succeed.

    I am extremely disappointed with life, about 10 years ago was 20 years old, had no dreams but life expectancy, never afraid of work and in my head I was sure after 30 years would have a home and my work.

    Right now I’m 31 years old, not married and I’m home ill gain to put food on the table.

    I’m so sad, sadder and sadder.

    I need help, my confidence is vanishing, fewer believe in a better future

    Reply
  40. How to make money and succeed in life however say that there is no exact or approximate example of a methodology of how to succeed.

    I am extremely disappointed with life, about 10 years ago was 20 years old, had no dreams but life expectancy, never afraid of work and in my head I was sure after 30 years would have a home and my work.

    Reply
  41. you work is really amazing.keep it up.when i used to feel very tired about my vision,i used to think about this and push up my spirit

    Reply
  42. Marco. i feel your words.

    I think that small steps are the way forward. find positive things to involve your life with. look to surround your self with good friends.

    an example in life that you get back what you give out.

    a simple example of this is simply to smile when greeting people … seewhat their response will be.

    i hope that this is the start to some thing new for you moving ahead.

    Reply
  43. tremendous articule i wish more people read that and realize how simple life could be !
    Cheers for you buddy

    Reply
  44. yes, that’s good article.. and very important and needy for living a life in a efficient way

    Reply
  45. Thanks for sharing………………..

    Reply
  46. Thank you for the advice surely the life I want is much closer than i think

    Reply
  47. Thanks for this post.It’s really an eye opening .Yes I believe that in order to be successful you need to be Be Proactive,Take Responsibility ,Be a Good Leader,Don’t Let Fear Stop You and Never Stop Learning.

    Reply
  48. Great article. No one can get success without these five grassroots fundamentals.

    Reply
  49. From my point of view success depends a lot on your patience.
    I have seen many patient people become successful.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Reply
  50. Excellent advice. I also recommend the reading of “Life as a Way of Being”. It concentrates on continual learning as a way of being and helps to understand the “White Water” as it is called in our lives.

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  51. the last one is ultimate truth!

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  52. Wowwwwww I have definitely overlooked all of these steps in my journey to success! This was very helpful I could most definitely use this for my life personally and for my inquiry project for English! Thanks!!!

    Reply
  53. Great article! It is important that we learn to do these things to get more out of life. Thanks!

    Reply
  54. Thanks for this post.It’s really an eye opening .Yes I believe that in order to be successful you need to be Be Proactive,Take Responsibility ,Be a Good Leader,Don’t Let Fear Stop You and Never Stop Learning.

    Reply
  55. Great article!

    People are soooo afraid of taking responsibility with their lives. There are those who will become comfortable with their present negative situation because if they try to remedy it, they will become “empowered” to take responsibility. That’s why they don’t like to get better.

    I think that success in life also means you have to become an eternal student. The moment you stop learning is the moment that you started dying.

    Reply
  56. This is one amazing article!

    Fear will always be a part of the human tendency. It’s natural. But just because it’s naturally there doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it anymore.

    Just because gravity is there, doesn’t mean people can never fly…that’s why we have our planes now.

    You can feel fear, but do the one thing that you’ve always wanted to do afraid.

    Reply
  57. thankssss
    for this post.this really help me in my life thanku so much.

    Reply

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