The Real Secret to Success Isn’t Really a Secret

Over my career, I have observed people with different personalities, backgrounds, and behavioral styles achieve success in life. Many times I wondered if there was a reoccurring theme running through their success stories that would clearly illustrate what creates success.

The Secret To Success 

When I was interviewing average business owners and entrepreneurs for my book, Masters of Success, I asked thousands of them what they felt the “secret” to success was. They generally told me things like: vision, goals, passion, persistence, and systems.

I then asked many highly successful people who had obtained great wealth or personal achievement in business, sports, or science. They generally told me that success involved things like: vision, goals, passion, persistence, and systems. Sound familiar?

This made me very curious. I was teaching at a California State University in the Los Angeles area. I asked hundreds of college students what they thought was the secret to success. These were all undergraduate students in business with little or no real-world business experience. What I found amazing was that they also said success involved things like: vision, goals, passion, persistence, and systems!

Everyone I interviewed or wrote about regarding the secret to success gave me virtually the same answer. If we all know what it takes to be successful, why are we not all successful?

What Makes Someone Successful

I have found that many people are looking for some mysterious and ever-elusive secret to success beyond what they already sense to be important. The truth is, there is no great mystery. In fact, very often “success is simply the uncommon application of common knowledge.”

When you hear successful people talk about the secret of their success, have you noticed that you rarely hear any real secret? What you do hear about is their unwavering adherence to some system or approach they believed in and followed with intensity and determination — an uncommon focus on something that less successful people simply take for granted or pay lip service to.

Even when the ideas are easy to understand, they often don’t get implemented. People think there must be something more. After I presented a keynote speech in Sweden years ago, a woman in the audience came up to me and said, “Everything you said makes so much sense. Much of it was about things that I’ve heard were important to do, but I never did them because they seemed too simple. I thought there had to be more to it than that, that the road to success was much more complicated and daunting. So I wasted valuable time looking for some secret”. Then she said, “I don’t understand why people often find it easy to make things so difficult. Myself included”.

Success comes to those who have not only a passion and a vision, but who also have a persistence and a commitment to perform the fundamentals over and over. They continue to work and learn until they can perform these fundamentals flawlessly. In the end, being successful is not about being different or having secret knowledge. In the end, everybody knows what the goal is and how to achieve it. This is common knowledge, and it’s been around for a long, long time. Success is about knowing these things and achieving them without giving up, making excuses, or getting sidetracked. 

2 thoughts on “The Real Secret to Success Isn’t Really a Secret

  1. Aloha Ivan, this article goes hand in hand with your quote, “If you want to scale a business, do six things a thousand times; not a thousand things six times“. Excellent article! “Masters of Success” is and will remain in my top five books!

  2. I agree and appreciate all you have said. I also think it depends on your idea of success. My business is a ministry of helping others in their daily life. As long as I have helped someone I feel successful!

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