Of course, it is possible to make some broad generalizations. For starters, successful people tend to be good at what they do – although, even here, exceptions exist since some business people, for example, have been regarded as highly successful individuals while determinedly leading their companies down the road to ruin. Additionally, successful people are generally not lazy since becoming successful does require you to do something (even if turns out that you’re ultimately not that good at what that something is). I also happen to think – and it’s a controversial point – that a good dose of intelligence (even if it’s not traditional academic intelligence) does help quite a bit.
Enthusiasm. As former British prime minister Winston Churchill once said: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Despite all the bravado about being prepared to fail, the corporate world is very wary of failure today, however. Many people are unwilling to take major risks for fear of losing their jobs. As a result, genuinely “enthusiastic” people are fairly thin on the ground, which gives them a competitive advantage.
It’s quite clear that success has nothing to do with our initial set of circumstances. Some of the most poor and disadvantaged people in the world have achieved the greatest successes of all time. Oprah Winfrey was born to a single mother on welfare and was physically and sexually abused as a child. J.K. Rowling was divorced, had a daughter, and was living on government assistance before publishing the first book in the Harry Potter series.