How to Be Successful, According to Successful People

How to Be Successful, According to Successful People

Success is one of those things that’s highly sought after but often hard to achieve. It’s also measured differently by everyone.

The simple dictionary definition of success is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. For some people, that might be just getting out of bed each day. For others, it could be the next promotion.

No matter what success means to you, it never hurts to be inspired. Whether it’s getting through the day, dealing with criticism or following your dreams, there are many factors that can lead to success.

Here are some motivational stories from some of the world’s most successful people.

Maya Angelou

8th April 1978: American poet and author Maya Angelou gestures while speaking in a chair during an interview at her home. (Photo by Jack Sotomayor/New York Times Co./Getty Images)
Photo by Jack Sotomayor/New York Times Co./Getty Images

“Pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

Maya Angelou was a woman of numerous talents: author, actress, screenwriter, dancer, poet and civil rights activist. She even held a position as the first Black female streetcar operator in San Francisco. Each of Angelou’s unique jobs led to the next and helped to inform her inspiring body of work. Her writing tackled the tough subjects like racism, gender and economic oppression. From her poetry to her public speaking, Angelou always managed to inspire others.

Bill Gates

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 27: Bill Gates, the co-Founder of the Microsoft company and co-Founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation makes a statement after his meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Presidential Palace on June 27, 2016 in Paris, France. Bill Gates mentioned in a short statement after his meeting with French President Francois Hollande that France was a great asset in the fight against AIDS. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

Bill Gates may be one of the richest men in the world as the founder of Microsoft, but he passed plenty of hurdles on the way. Gates’ first start-up ‘Traf-O-Data’ tanked after the device didn’t even work. But Gates and his business partner, Paul Allen, persevered and they learned from the mistakes of their first company when they began building Microsoft.

Whitney Wolfe Herd

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 22: Whitney Wolfe Herd, Founder and CEO of Bumble, and Serena Williams speak on stage during keynote conversation at 2019 Watermark Conference for Women Silicon Valley at San Jose McEnery Convention Center on February 22, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/WireImage)
Photo by Marla Aufmuth/WireImage

“Have a dream, chase it down, jump over every single hurdle, and run through fire and ice to get there”

At only 31, Whitney Wolfe Herd is an inspiring example that women can succeed in the tech industry. As a student, Herd was part of numerous non-profit organisations, including her own business selling bamboo tote bags to benefit those affected by the BP oil spill. She joined Hatch Labs when she was 22 and met Sean Rad and Chris Gulczynski, who she then joined on their new business venture, Tinder. After splitting from Tinder, Herd went on to start up her own dating app, Bumble, which was designed specifically to give more women control. After Bumble’s roaring success Herd is estimated to be worth $290 million USD.

Michelle Obama

How to Be Successful, According to Successful People
Photo by BET Awards 2020/Getty Images via Getty Image

“We should always have three friends in our lives: one who walks ahead, who we look up to and follow; one who walks beside us, who is with us every step of our journey; and then, one who we reach back for and bring along after we’ve cleared the way.”

While her husband may steal the limelight as president, Michelle Obama has done just as many inspiring things as her other half. Prior to her time as the first lady, Obama graduated from Harvard Law School and worked as a lawyer and as an associate dean at the University of Chicago. During her husband’s presidential campaign, she made the decision to work the campaign trail and be home in time every day to see her daughters.

After becoming the African-American first lady, Obama advocated for a number of human rights issues including promoting education for girls and recognition for military families. She continues to speak on a number of activist topics and has released books, a podcast and a documentary on Netflix. You can read more of Michelle Obama’s story as told by her, in her new book.

Steven Spielberg

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 12: Steven Spielberg arrives to the Los Angeles premiere of Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment's "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" held at Walt Disney Concert Hall on June 12, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic

“I’m not really interested in making money. That’s always come as the result of success, but it’s not been my goal, and I’ve had a tough time proving that to people.”

One of the world’s most influential directors, Steven Spielberg, was actually rejected from film school, twice. After working on small amateur films in his backyard throughout his teenage years, Spielberg was ready when an opportunity came calling. He got a small job as an unpaid intern at Universal Studios and was given the chance to make a short film. The film impressed his bosses and Spielberg never looked back. He’s since won multiple Academy Awards for his landmark films including E.T., Jurassic Park and Jaws.

Oprah Winfrey

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 12: Oprah Winfrey is seen on stage during her 'An Evening With Oprah' tour at Allphones Arena on December 12, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)
Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage

“Discover who you are, and use who you are in service to the world.” 

Oprah Winfrey is a household name. As a media legend and philanthropist, Winfrey built a career based on giving back. Her work empowered people to overcome their personal struggles and she’s spent significant amounts of her own time and money giving to communities in need. She overcame significant hardship in her teenage years after being repeatedly molested, running away from home and giving birth to a baby, who died shortly after. None of this stopped her and she won a scholarship to college where she studied communications. Making a name for herself in the Black community, Winfrey worked her way in a number of media jobs, going from news anchor to hosting her own talk show. She’s had the opportunity to interview some of the most famous and influential people of all time and now owns her own media network.

Other words of wisdom

If you’re looking for a cheat sheet to success. Bad news, there isn’t one. But there is a cheat sheet for quotes from successful people, which is almost as good right? Print these out for one of those stuck in the mud days and remember – if they can do it, you can do it, too!

“Sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.” Mindy Kaling

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” – Rosa Parks

“Work doesn’t work without play.” – Shonda Rhimes

“It’s really about taking one moment at a time and trying to master those moments.” – Serena Williams

“There is no point at which you can say, ‘Well, I’m successful now. I might as well take a nap.” – Carrie Fisher

“If you are going through hell, keep going” Winston Churchill

“All our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

“If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.” – Elon Musk

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” – Katharine Hepburn

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

If there’s one thing that’s common with these quotes, it’s that success isn’t always easy. There’s also no one path to success. Everyone’s lives play out differently and if you reach a goal that you’re proud of, then that’s all that matters.

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