I recently wrote an article about The Key Traits of the Highly Successful People on this popular personal development blog. My approach was a bit different, in the sense that I wanted to point out those character traits that can describe a successful person. Sort of like a personal profile. There are many articles about the highly successful people, so I wanted a different take on the subject – based on my observation.

I suggest you read it and combine those data with the following article where I want to add some aspects that are easy to be missed.


How about defining success first? A second question could be, “Why most of the people who are not successful are running from it?” Is it about the fear of success? Which, by the way, is widely spread as the fear of failure. This fear is feed by the definition these people have about how is to be successful.

Average people equal success with a lot of money, power, popularity, and fame. I’m not sure if someone who is very popular, always on the mainstream, but who abandons or neglects his/her children can be called successful. Or someone who’s very rich, but in order to gain his money will do anything. Or someone who has many addictions and struggles to leave a normal life in the background.

Case Study

In this sense, I would love to challenge your mind to figure out if Russell Brand can be called successful or not. He’s definitely famous, popular, rich, spiritual and very intelligent with a sophisticated vocabulary; and who is very open about himself. And, he was born as a brand. If you consider your name a mantra, then he got the jackpot. You’ll find a great Facebook Live with Russell Brand when interviewed by Jay Shetty. He wrote a book about Recovery and admitted the constant struggle with his demons. What would you say? Is he successful? I would love to see your comments on this. But maybe an even better question is, would you like to be in his shoes? Does he consider himself successful?

Let’s take politics. To be a politician you need to consider a lot of things and accept many compromises in order to gain popularity and power. And many do those compromises, finally getting power. Would you add power to success? Again, it’s arguable. Most of the people would think that money and power means success. But if you’re asking the successful people, they almost never will list these in the definition of success.

Was Steve Jobs Successful?

So we have two categories of people. Those who are not successful but tend to think that success is power, money, fame, popularity. And those successful ones who believe other things and I’ll give some great examples at the end of this article. What I do believe is that success links closely to inner happiness.

Those who love what they are doing, enjoy their daily life, and are constant learners – quoting Steve Jobs, “…are always hungry.” Those who have a fulfilled life, the ones with a mission, who feel the need to contribute to the world. Only who has plenty to give can do that. The rudest, vindictive, mean-spirited people I ever met where the unhappy ones, even if they hide it well. I would say that whatever you do if you don’t see yourself as part of a bigger picture, having a specific goal, mission – which animates you day and night; you cannot call yourself successful.

But the above statements brings a new question. Since I quoted Steve Jobs, should I call him successful? And here we are, the separation of lives comes in question. Professionally, Steve Jobs was highly successful. Right? All of his failures didn’t do anything else then make him stronger and create other new missions for himself. That’s because he always was a visionary who believed he could impact the world. For this mission, he sacrificed everything else, his personal life.

We all know that as a family man or father he cannot be called a role model. Far from that. But I am wondering about something else. How did he saw himself regarding this aspect? Was he miserable because he couldn’t be that fantastic “private” person as he was in business? Was he suffering because of it? Or the idea of leaving something behind, for all to benefit, believing that every big thing needs some sacrifice on the road? Was he ok with that? If he was, then yes we could call him successful. Any other opinions?

Open Question

No one can define success or give it a single universal definition. That’s because success should be measured from an individual stand of view. What makes you fulfilled? What gives you the fuel to wake up each morning and be hungry to achieve something more than the previous day? What kind of contribution do you want to have in your life? What your life should mean to you and others? If you die today, what will remain behind you? What’s your legacy?


Please don’t be foolish to take those role models who have a modest life, repeating everything they do each day, but stating they are happy and content with their lives. They say they don’t want more. Those are or incredibly naive, primitive, lazy, or just stupid. But at the same time, many of these people are the definition of “talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.” They say one thing but show something different. You’ll find many of them inside the spiritual “tribes.” Search for genuine clues.

What Do Successful People Do In Networking?

Success correlates with congruence. Talk your mind, do what you’re preaching, be a role model of what you’re saying – constructively. Otherwise, you are like a Facebook profile, showing all the right things, even if your life sucks. Did you know that there are researches that show statistically the way people share things online? 85% of those who share things about themselves share only the goodies, only 15% of the bad stuff.

But on the opposite side, 54% of those who share things about others share the bad things. What does this mean? That we are more inclined to trash others than ourselves. That is why the entourage can impact your success significantly. The successful people won’t spend much time with those who are not aligned with their view and don’t want to grow. They are polite but very brief. Because time is the most precious resource and I won’t stop repeating that.

I saw this so many times when doing my research. In networking events where all kinds of people gather. I saw the interactions between the successful ones and the other ones. Success has a smell; you can smell it. If a fake wannabe approaches them but doesn’t have the traits of success, only the talk, they will receive a polite smile, a redirect and then they will be left alone or ignored. If this won’t work and the wannabe insists, they leave the room. Bye!

On the other hand when two successful people meet their eyes blink. But not because of the status alone, but the information shared on that level, which is amazing. They talk about significant things, how they can change the status quo, the world, their company, themselves and so on. They are oriented to others and their personal development, while the other type is oriented to themselves only and you can see it, hear it, and feel it.

And I owe you a third scenario. When someone genuine approaches the successful one with a real concern, something meaningful, the scene will look different. Those who achieved things will be happy to share, even enthusiastically, their experience and give the best advice they can. If they are approached with value and respect, they reciprocate the same way. Please don’t confuse this with situations when that person could be very busy, already engaged in another talk, or very tired. Those particular situations need to be taken into account. It’s nothing personal. They are humans too. So, while all this happens is important, in networking events you have the best chance to approach and reach great minds.

Final Thoughts

My advice is to don’t let yourself mislead by the wrong people when you measure success and search for a role model. It could be a demotivating factor for you. If you want to get inspired by success, get closer to the right people. Those who inspire and encourage you. Not to jump from the cliff, but who believe that you can do better. Same way, you should dismiss the rest because matching success with lousy behavior, character and traits could stop you from your own personal success and even mission.

Famous Quotes About Success

Finally, since I promised, let’s see what some amazing people have to say about success. I’ll repeat, you won’t find anything to do with money, power, or fame in their definitions.

As a side note, it seems like my description matches very well the one from Stephen Covey, so I’ll start with that.

Stephen Covey: “If you carefully consider what you want to be said of you in the funeral experience,” he told the New York Times, “you will find your definition of success.”

Richard Branson: “My definition of success?” he asked himself on Virgin’s blog. “The more you’re actively and practically engaged, the more successful you will feel.”

Maya Angelou: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

Arianna Huffington: “To live the lives we truly want and deserve, and not just the lives we settle for, we need a Third Metric,” she says, “a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.”

John Wooden: “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

Thomas Edison: “Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”

Deepak Chopra: “Success in life could be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals.”

Extra wisdom:

Jack Welch: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

Swami Sivananda: “Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.”

Nelson Mandela: “Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.”

Vince Lombardi: “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

William Feather: “Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”

Jim Rohn: “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.”

What’s your definition of success?

Bonus! Check out these 10 ways to describe success

Originally published at platinum-development.ro


  • Dr. Cristina Imre

    Executive Coach & Mentor for Startup Founders & Executives | Serial Entrepreneur


    Throughout her career, Cristina has been focused on the idea of building and leaving a lasting legacy. For that, quality, purpose-driven, empathic leadership is needed at the top. An entrepreneur at heart, problem solver, executive by action, mindset expert as the usual self. The nonconventional way in which she combined experience and experiments became her hallmark. Cristina Imre served as a leader and executive in multiple industries, including, (but not limited to), healthcare, e-learning, banking, call centers and manufacturing, AI, real estate, financial services, marketing, sales, etc. Worked with multiple startups, SMB's and multinational distributed teams. By breaking down dysfunctional patterns in business, career, and personal life, she stresses the importance of self-improvement at any level. Through her two decades of research, testing, and application of unique and classical methods on business and leadership development, Cristina gained a unique insight into the world we live in and how we function as humans. Quoting her: "Our future is unwritten, and we can only move forward or regress by not improving ourselves, not learning from our history, and not thinking long-term. There is no middle road." Feel free to message her directly through LinkedIn if you sense there is a synergy to explore. P.S. She also wrote 4 books (2 non-fiction, 2 fiction) and you can find her articles around the web and her views on her social media channels, especially YouTube.