Why some people almost always are successful

by Henrik Edberg

Like everyone else I´ve spent some time thinking about why some people are so successful in life. And what factors in success that are under more personal control than others.

Successful people might be intelligent. Or have had a socially well connected upbringings. Or be naturally energetic and open and positive.

But a lot of the factors that make some people more successful at almost anything in life are very much under their control. And much can be improved in anyone’s life by learning from the people that have gone before us.

Here are some of the thoughts on success that I´ve come up with from reading/watching documentaries throughout the years about people such as Michael Jordan, Thomas Edison, Eleanor Roosevelt and Henry Ford. The following factors of success are just a few and I´m quite sure there are a lot more.

They make decisions and take action
Right or wrong action, they take it. Either way it’s always better than making no decisions and taking no action at all. As Franklin Roosevelt said:

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

They do things even when they don´t feel like it
I think this is a pretty huge factor. A lot of us back down when we don´t want to do something, even though it may eventually bring us to a wonderful experience or goal. Successful people may not always like doing some of the things they have to do. But they do them anyway. And in the longer run that makes all the difference.

They do the most productive thing right now
Instead of trapping themselves in doing productive but not so important tasks or projects they realise what’s most important and do that. And after they´re done with that they do what´s most important again. Instead of just doing a lot of things, they think and plan before they act and try to focus as much as possible of their thoughts and actions on those few very important things.

They do one thing at a time
Many of them don´t seem to multi-task. Some reasons for avoiding that may be that it creates internal confusion, wastes time and spreads the multi-tasker too thinly. Instead, they do one thing and focus on that until it is done. Then they do the next thing until it is done. Focusing 100% on one task at a time will get it done quicker and better.

They have a positive attitude
A negative attitude can be very damaging and limiting to one´s life. A positive one can open new doors every day. It can open your mind to new ideas and input and create or sustain great relationships. It helps you through the hard times as a successful person often sees an opportunity within what others would merely see as a problem.

Have a look at Take The Postivity Challenge for more thoughts and practical tips for creating a more positive attitude.

They have redefined failure
While a lot of people see failure as a way to rationalizing the feeling of wanting to giving up or as a sign that it´s actually time to do something else successful people tend to see it more as useful feedback. They may not like to fail, but they don´t fear it – or at least they have little fear of it – and they know that if they fail they´ve been there before and they can start over again and succeed. This is of course a very useful belief and keeps successful people going while the rest have already given up.

They don´t let fear hold them back
They overcome fear and slay that dragon whenever they face it. Or they may have defined or redefined reality so that fear is substantially decreased or even gone in some areas of their life.

Doing this enables you to take action on your thoughts. This pulls down the barriers in the mind and create new roads and opens up to whole new possibilities. Have a look at 5 Life-Changing Keys to Overcoming Your Fear for more on both slaying your dragons and redefining your reality to contain less fear.

They have found a purpose in life
They are internally driven rather than externally driven. They do what they have a burning desire to do rather than conforming to what others think they should do. Even if what the others think may be positive and successful stuff.

The Michael Jordans, the Edisons and the Stephen Kings have figured out what they want to do in life and are doing it (or did it).

The purpose, I think, is largely why they can keep on going and be motivated while others may tire or just go and do something else that they find more purposeful. The successes love their purpose and when they aligned with it then it seems to push them forward with enthusiasm and energy through life.

They don´t get distracted
When others get too caught up in everyday life to do what they really want to do the successes don´t. They can really focus on actually doing what´s important and what needs to be done. Again, this seems to go back to having a purpose and more clear sense of direction in life.

They value their time highly and plan it out well
A lot of people don´t value their time that much. Successful people have a purpose in life and therefore they do. They have so much they want and an inner urge to do it and therefore need to plan well to use their days effectively.

They´ve got awesome communication-skills
So very much of what we do in life has to do with other people. So it seems quite obvious that to be successful you´ll probably have to have good or great communication-skills (or hire someone that has such skills).

People skills is fortunately something anyone can improve and develop. Have a look at Do You Do these 10 Mistakes in a Conversation and How to Make a Great First Impression for some useful tips.

They have an open mind and are willing to learn
Successful people take the time to study and learn – and often seem to really like doing it – what is necessary to improve their skills. They are open to thoughts, suggestions, solutions, new information and change rather than thinking they already know everything, that there is not much more to learn and that everything should be as it has always been.

What to focus on?
Now, what factors are the most important ones, where should one focus the energy? I am currently focusing on improving my ability to take action, doing what I may not feel like doing and doing the most productive thing right now. To me it seems like these three factors are very important and since they are pretty interconnected they are easy to combine.

I think what you should focus on varies a lot. And it’s up to everyone to figure that out for themselves. But if you´re anything like me you probably already know what areas you need to work on.

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Loving Annie March 21, 2007 at 6:27 pm

Good Wednesday morning Henrik ! How are you ?
I agree that all of those things make for a successful person in business.
Can you apply it to someone single looking for romantic love as well ? In my late-40′sIt seems to be elusive for me, and you may be able to point out something I’m missing –
Your blog always points out things worth thinking of/changes to make that will work.

Henrik Edberg March 22, 2007 at 11:04 am

I am fine, Annie. Hope you are too.

Some kinda general and broad thoughts on how this may apply too dating/finding love:

- The first one essential I think. To find a great person you´ll probably have to make a lot of decisions and take action a lot. To meet the right one you´ll probably have to meet a fair amount of people. So taking decisions and going on dates or similar events over and over is very useful to increase you chances.

- This also ties into doing things even if you don´t feel you want too. Often when we feel that way but do it anyway we are glad we did it.

- Which ties into redefining failure. If you don´t take a failed date too seriously and think it´s the end of the world everything will be easier. Perhaps you learn something from it or met a new friend. And there is always more people out there.

- Of course, fear of rejection is one of the bigger fears in life. If one can decrease this fear then it will be a lot easier to open up, to relax and to make decisions and take action to go on dates without feeling like one does not want to go. Also, when the fear is lessened then it will be easier to make a good impression and show the great parts of oneself.

- Improving ones outlook to be a more positive one is always attractive to people in any setting and also shows of the great parts of oneself. And so does improving communication skills. Both increases the chance of making good connections with others.
- Being willing to learn and keeping an open mind is really good to improve on everything in your life. And good because then one can seek out new good information and learn more about the area of life they want to improve.

That´s just some general thoughts though. Some more information that I like is:



Also, the social & relationship subforum at the Pavlina forum is great for some levelheaded and useful advice and discussions on love/ dating/ relationships/ communication. It can be found here:


Ghost March 23, 2007 at 4:19 am

This is a really good article. I see these same traits everyday in successful people. One of the biggest things I’ve seen is they just go for it. They know what they want to achieve and they do it until they are satisfied. I’ve always admired that in some people, how they can set such a high standard yet always seem to achieve their goals.

Loving Annie March 23, 2007 at 4:22 am

Thank you very much, Henrik ! I will make an effort to take action more frequently – and am going to go check out Stevepavlina’s blog right now !
Hope you have a good Thursday — and Friday — and week-end !

As to the article (from 3/22) I really liked the quotes ! I agree that thinking more positively at least lets me SEE opportunities… Thank you for that ! Just at the right time….

Loving Annie

Cody McKibben March 28, 2007 at 11:49 pm

Wow, very powerful article! I appreciate your concise effort to capture so many of the values that make someone successful! I think I agree with you on all of these–every time I use the above qualities it benefits me! But it definitely helps to put it in writing and remind yourself of the things that will keep you going and keep you succeeding over the long run.


digitalnomad April 5, 2007 at 6:15 pm

Some good points here. I always try to do the things I don’t want to do first, and get them out of the way.

Britgirl April 19, 2007 at 3:49 am

I’d a couple more: – they set goals. And they have a strategy for how to achieve them.

MLO April 20, 2007 at 4:31 am

Science is not on your side. Statistically, the most important factor is to be born at least Upper Middle Class and be given the right name. Read Freakonomics.

The truth is, wealthy criminals are the most “successful” by our societies standards because everyone *thinks* material success is important.

Give me Spiritual satisfaction over material comfort any day.

Ronald Yip May 7, 2007 at 4:23 am

Hi Henrik,

I can’t agree with you more on how one can achive personal success.

I like to add that the really successful people are those who have help others to succeed as well. The more people they have helped to succeed the more successful they bcome.


thodarumm May 20, 2007 at 12:17 am


As always, I am perusing your archives. I came back from my run, and on the way back I was thinking of a few things I want to change in my life, life is OK as is, but I know I haven’t realized my full potential. I want to do phenomenally well at work, there I said it, I will hold myself to it. And almost immediately I told myself I would come back and read this article. I will come back to this whenever I feel a need because I simply want to do better and I know I can. I am blessed to have a lot of things in my life and there is no reason to not realize my full potential.

I did not read it as soon as I got in, but I did get to it now. Thanks!

Have a great weekend!

HP van Duuren August 3, 2007 at 6:37 pm

Thanks for your post,

(Also Ronald Yip about his comment about ‘Helping others to succeed’)

All the points you mention do seem to make perfect sense, although ‘Doing things even when they don’t feel like it?’

‘I do have some doubts about that one….,’

To a certain extend that might be right, on the other hand If you are – for example – a very Successful Movie Star, you simply can afford not to accept a role you don’t like. As a matter of fact it might actually be an Indicator for real Success that you can afford to do only the things
when you feel like it!

If there are things that I don’t like I look for way’s to ‘Outsource’ it to somebody that does like it. A WIN/WIN sitiation that makes everybody HAPPY.

All the Best,

P.S. Loving Annie for what looking for love is concerned, you indeed probably better not “Shop” ‘for the perfect partner’, and instead focus on just ‘dating’ to have Fun and to learn from te process.

John August 27, 2007 at 5:03 am

Well thought out article. It is nice to know we all have within us the power to choose success. It is always a choice we each have to make and we are individually responsible for our success or failures in life.

Marie September 21, 2007 at 11:16 am

I met the man that I will marry after years of searching. Believe me it takes a while and it’s absolutely true that you need to meet literally a great number of men before you can figure out what kind of person you will want to spend the rest of your life with. Sure it can take a year, it can take 20 years. But I always believe in Louis Pasteur’s motto, “Luck favors the bold”. I searched and searched and never got tired even though I was close to losing hope. Now that I have him, I couldn’t be more thankful. Positive mental attitude does work. They also call it faith.

heavy October 14, 2007 at 9:49 pm

hey listening i love very much guitar
but my parents not allown me becouse his think the public live its not for me .I irritable down the time . i dont now what create convince my parents let me free. please help me

Douglas Woods October 16, 2007 at 8:40 pm

I am not convinced that a successful person has always found their purpose in life. I am sure that many successful people have taken a step back and looked at their life which, although successful, has lacked any purpose. Quite often, it would seem, they may find their purpose outside of the field in which they find their success. How many highly succesful businessmen have become philanthropists because they have found their purpose through their philanthropy rather than their business?

Dalton October 27, 2007 at 10:42 pm


…the problem with your list of ‘success-factors’ is that you ignored people who may have had the very same personal traits — but were unsuccessful in their endeavors. Thus, you can’t logically make such broad assertions.

You easily know of famous, rich, successful people in the world… because they attract admiring public attention are often written & spoken about widely.

Unsuccessful, failed people attract little notice and are often deliberately ignored…no matter what their personal traits.

You count the hits but not the misses.

Perhaps circumstances of birth, family & friends … or being in the right place at the right time (luck) are as important… or more important than the success-factors you praise ?

christine November 19, 2007 at 9:08 pm

I think Dalton makes a worthwhile point. This is not to discount the article itself, because every single quality mentioned is correct and valid, and I can’t think of anything I’d add to the list. Havent’ we all seen (or been) that person with most of those features above, who pours their heart and soul into a project, and every conceivable setback plagues them? We are indeed magnets for the good and bad in our lives, but I do believe that there are factors that lie outside of our control or ability to attract/manifest. I guess this speaks to perseverance and conviction/love for the project itself, but a little luck would go a long way sometimes.

IAmSoOverMe November 29, 2007 at 3:45 am

This is a good article. A lot of people become successful just because they are. If they don’t have all the tools to do it, then they have the connections to get them there. A lot of people have everything handed to them in life. I run into these people all the time. But the most important thing to remember is that true success is the success you achieve on your own with no handouts or special advantages. Those are the kinds of victories you can truly be happy about. http://www.IAmSoOverMe.com

daniel December 12, 2007 at 9:59 pm

Hi,I am 25 ,male,student.
I want to ask you ,I am really nice with my friend’s and I have alot of friend that all of them are unique but all the time I can not keep them friend for long time,I feel that they dont care about me,and I am a big looser to keeping my friend for along time.
So could you please tell me ,what should I do?
do you have any Idea?
thank you

kidpieces May 4, 2008 at 10:29 pm

I have read so many biography, my favorite is “Passionate Mind”, and you just successfully point out all the important criteria of a successful person. I am particularly like scientist and you were right..they are mostly driven by their passion of their own work.


Bart H. May 12, 2008 at 11:42 pm

Gosh, your blog is amazing, and I’m not just saying that. I just found it today, and I’ve read at least a dozen posts back-to-back. You’re in my RSS Reader from now on. I think I’ll be re-reading all of your content for some time to come. Thanks for being a positive guy!!! I needed you right at this time!

Inspiration for Change May 17, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Fantastic tips on how to achieve success.

emily May 27, 2008 at 8:52 am

very good help me alot

Jason June 28, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Its not easy being successful…What we gotta do is to improve ourselves and drive it out hard…..Nth comes easy….Well i am very passionate about what u have published..Good job…And ty….I still not very sure about what exactly what i got to do to become a successful one … The field in the world is so big.Can you,Henrik tell me what im suppose to do?

pratik.patel July 13, 2008 at 3:52 am

i think it was preety intresting topic. people who gave example and what ever they wrote on success that’s really good and benificiyal for everyone….i mean i don;t have to say anything. i just read it.

Thomas July 16, 2008 at 5:07 am

This is an interesting topic. May I also take the liberty to recommend a new e-book, title: Why some people almost always win? here? You can get it at http://www.mba-connection.com

May we all have a successful journey!

Steve Crosbie July 24, 2008 at 6:39 pm

Hello Henrik. Your article has generated varied feedback since you published it more than a year ago.

In principle the success factors in your article are correct, but the factors are limited to “some” people as you allude to in your title. Most of your respondents have though considered the factors from the perspective of how can “anybody” be successful.

An important point to consider is, “what is success?” Well success is enormously varied. Some people want to achieve wealth, some fame, and some just want to be happy. When we refer to success we have to consider that success looks different to different people.

Then we have to consider how people achieve success. Is there a uniform method, or as suggested by some of your respondents, are there different methods for different people. In my opinion the factors detailed in your article are certainly common to many successful people, but many of them are symptoms rather than causes. If you want to provide a generic formula for success then you have to identify the fundamental methodology that can be understood and accepted by all people in maximising their life potential.

At the root of all achievement and success is Expectation. We get in life what we Expect. We set our expectations based upon the programming that we receive as we grow up and mature. As we grow up we are told that we can do this and we can not do that, we receive input from parents, teachers, friends, relatives and everything and everyone else in the world around us. The programming that we receive resides in our subconscious and consists of everything that we believe about ourselves and the world around us. This then becomes the rule book for how we live our lives and what we achieve in life.

From that point on if you want to change what you are getting in life then you need to change what you expect for yourself, you need to change your beliefs about your capabilities and restrictions. You need to change your subconscious programming. You can change your programming, beliefs, and expectations by focussing upon the things that you want to achieve, the conditions that you want to bring into your life.

Once you accept the desired state or achievement as being possible for you then the reprogramming has been accepted by the subconscious, and your belief and expectation has been established. From this point you may start displaying some of the factors listed in Henrik’s article.


In life you get exactly what you expect. If you don’t like what you are getting then you need to change your expectations. You are exactly where you expected to be.

However, do not confuse desire with expectation. Desire is a “want”, but expectation is “belief”.

silina August 29, 2008 at 11:35 pm

The epitomes of successful people in this world aren’t a lot, but one of the most successful people i have ever met, is the charming Moroccan journalist kawtar krifi, she is very successful and she has a very special personnality , maybe she is one of the most powerful young journalists in the Arab world.

Shavana September 5, 2008 at 3:28 am

Just found you blog.
I really enjoying reading it.
Just read “Why some people almost always are successful”.
I agree 100%.
I am looking forward to reading more.

Great job.

Sonia October 8, 2008 at 1:49 am

wooooow this article is amazing. I am a forth year engineering student,I was bored of working on my project.I just typed Success in the google and came up with your article!:)
every word you’ve used makes complete sense!

Good job and keep it up!

Myrko | AwakeBlogger October 24, 2008 at 5:38 pm

I would add: They have goals.

You have purpose and Decision/Action in the list, but goals are a very important driving force to success.

WeepingWidow December 21, 2008 at 10:39 pm

This is a great post. Thanks. It was a good reminder to focus on doing only one thing at a time for me. :)

Sam January 25, 2009 at 4:26 am

Inspiring, insightful article. I like that you pointed out that successful people do the most productive things first. This is something I need to work on myself.

francis April 28, 2009 at 3:59 am

Hi Henrik, the top of this article is cut off for my by the google ads.

francis April 28, 2009 at 4:04 am

You have a lot of great stuff on here. Keep up the good work!!!

Chris Phone June 22, 2009 at 5:00 am

Good article indeed. I notice that successful people take risks more than others. You have to go out on a limb sometimes to get to the fruit.

Rasty July 29, 2009 at 7:54 am

The question is good, some of the answers are wrong. Plus some of the comments are completely off base. Success is a matter of 1 (yes one) basic element. Ruducing the risk of making a bad decision. That is it.

BOby August 9, 2009 at 7:47 am

Thanks, i love this article. I want to change my life.

matt arney November 7, 2009 at 7:39 am

if one is really determined to be successful, it think he could do it. i like the list that you made. People who want to be successful but who doesn’t want to make a move now, should read this!

khun November 20, 2009 at 7:56 am

I like very much it.

idin November 24, 2009 at 2:07 pm

im turky and this compos is very nice for every men

Project Junto December 13, 2009 at 10:52 pm

I think the point “They do things even when they don´t feel like it” actually is a successful persons ability to work through their fears, which others would not attempt.

Great post!

Garrison March 31, 2010 at 11:55 am

The point is, success is more than being really good at what you do, it’s about being consistently chosen to do it. We like fast food because it meets a specific need. Some people under certain circumstances will trade quality for speed and if you can put a little special sauce on it even better.

Omar April 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I just have to slow down. I can become obsessed with trying to do too much to succeed. I get tense and don’t know when to relax. I’ll overcome.

SRIDHAR April 20, 2010 at 4:15 pm

hai henrik..
its Amazing,marvellous …………!!!!!!!! im oweful2u…………..
im doin my under graduation 2yr,i really feel for my school,inter percentages as i used to b in dilemma of how to tackle xams.. but nw as i got the secrets of life i really thank u for revealing such great things……….byeee………..

A.M.Hashmi April 26, 2010 at 9:58 am

good morning Henrik,
I really do think that your site is just awesome
i have a few problems with me
1.i am not confident
2.i am rude with my brothers
i found the tips for previous one and found them very effective but for 2nd one i have no idea what should i do.i am 16.and will be grateful to u if u suggest me any good tip.


RAMESH NAREDLA August 29, 2010 at 6:30 pm

good morning Henrik,
I really do think that your site is just awesome
i have a few problems with me
1.i am not confident
2.i am rude with my brothers
i found the tips for previous one and found them very effective but for 2nd one i have no idea what should i do.i am 16.and will be grateful to u if u suggest me any good tip.
ramesh naredla

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