Family Matters

Success is more about individual behaviors

By ROB COOMBS
Posted 11/11/18

I often marvel at why some people succeed while others do not. Although I’m not completely sure why, I am completely sure that success has little to do with intelligence. I have met many very …

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Family Matters

Success is more about individual behaviors

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I often marvel at why some people succeed while others do not. Although I’m not completely sure why, I am completely sure that success has little to do with intelligence. I have met many very bright individuals who were dismal failures. I, too, have met many individuals with average intellects who were highly successful. I also am convinced that there is no magical formula for success. Success is a byproduct of work, that is, hard work over an extended period of time. As one basketball coach quipped when an eager yet naive reporter commented on his “overnight success” as a basketball coach, “Yes, I am an overnight success that has been 20 years in the making.” When we look beneath the surface of highly successful people, we often discover several patterns of behavior that have consistently been used on the path to success. 

1. Set Attainable Goals – Highly successful individuals have the confidence to set goals. They know where they are going and are not afraid to set specific goals. Even though the goals may be quite challenging they are sensible enough to be attainable. This assures that they neither set themselves up for failure nor underestimate their potential.
2. Make Progress in Small Steps – Highly successful individuals have the patience to progress in small steps. They do not have to have everything right now. This means they can delay gratification for months and sometimes years. Of course, this demands a high level of emotional maturity. Unfortunately, many compromise what they really want in exchange for more immediate pleasures that are temporarily satisfying but offer little long-term satisfaction.
3. Focus on Learning over Performance – Highly successful individuals focus on learning rather than performance. Performance is often focused on how we look to others while learning is focused within. Highly successful people are consumed with the learning process. 
4. Seek Instruction – Highly successful individuals recognize their limitations and are unafraid to seek guidance from others who may be more informed. For any of us, there is far more that we don’t know than we do know. Knowing how and where to get information can make the difference between success and failure.
5. Find Someone to Emulate – Highly successful individuals find someone to emulate. Within every field there are those who have gone before who can be admired and respected while offering valuable clues concerning how to become successful.
6. Seek Support and Encouragement – Highly successful people actively seek support and encouragement. They readily recognize that the path to success includes many caring and supportive people.
7. When Failure Comes, Try Harder – Highly successful people understand that failure is not the end but rather an opportunity to grow, gain insight, and find new direction. Thus failure becomes as high a motivator for success as success.


Rob Coombs is a professor with a doctor of ministry degree and a doctor of philosophy with an emphasis in Family Systems.

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