Eight secrets to success from highly effective people

Successful people face the same challenges as everyone else, yet they’re better able to overcome adversity and climb to the top. What sets them apart? Here are top tips from highly successful people on how you can improve your life and career.

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Oprah Winfrey Speaking in Red Dress

George Burns/Harpo Inc.

Successful people face the same challenges as everyone else, yet they’re better able to overcome adversity and climb to the top. What sets them apart? Here are top tips from highly successful people on how you can improve your life and career.

Be grateful – Oprah Winfrey, CEO, Oprah Winfrey Network
Oprah Winfrey has been keeping a gratitude journal for 16 years and says it’s the single most important thing she has ever done. Every single day she writes down five things she’s grateful for, whether it’s a plane landing safely or a fantastic bathtub in her hotel room. Winfrey says that if you focus on what you have, you’ll always end up having more, but if you focus only on what you don’t have, you will never have enough. Being grateful for what you have is key to a successful and happy life. 

Don’t let rejection stop you – Stephen King, best-selling author
Stephen King faced rejection at the very beginning of his career. In his book, On Writing, he writes, “By the time I was fourteen…the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled on it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.” The message is this: rejection doesn’t mean you should stop doing what you love. Instead, acknowledge it as a right of passage and keep on trying.

It’s okay to be emotional – Arlene Dickinson, Dragon’s Den star
The entrepreneur knows what it takes to build a successful business — and how to optimize our gender differences to do so. She says that women make decisions differently than men. And while some will say that emotions have no place in business, Dickinson disagrees. She says, “Business is highly emotional and energizing – people will follow you anywhere if they are emotionally engaged with you.”

Do what you love – Steve Jobs, late CEO, Apple
As an extraordinary visionary, Jobs said the secret to success is finding what you love to do, and doing it. Simple but powerful advice.

Don’t sweat the small stuff – Alyssa Goodman, PhD, Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University

When you spend your time thinking about the universe, little things like unwashed dishes or the dumb thing you said yesterday aren’t that important. As Goodman puts it, it will seem as “significant as slime mold”. Don’t let the small stuff take your mind off the big picture. Instead, concentrate your mental energies on more important matters.

Look for feedback, not validation – Sara Blakely, founder, Spanx
When you’re sharing your business ideas, getting advice and feedback is important — but make sure you’re not looking for validation. Not everyone is going to agree with your vision, but they can give you some feedback and advice that you can use. Blakely says that looking to others for validation “can stop a lot of multimillion-dollar ideas in their tracks”.

Believe in yourself – Meg Whitman, CEO, Hewlett-Packard
Don’t let anyone put you down in life or in your career, says Whitman. “Remember that you can do anything you want to do. Don’t let anyone say, ‘You’re not smart enough… it’s too hard… it’s a dumb idea… no one has done that before… girls don’t do that.'” Believe in your own abilities and let that guide your life direction.

Embrace failure and move forward – JK Rowling, best-selling author
This is my favourite piece of advice from one of the best inspirational speeches ever: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” Words to live by from JK Rowling who embraced her failure and went on to succeed beyond her wildest dreams.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever got? Share it below!