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17 Things Very Successful People Never Stop Doing

Think about the most successful people you know.  Here are 17 things I’ll bet they’re constantly doing.

Think of the most successful person you know.  Maybe we’re talking about a work colleague or a mentor.  Maybe this is someone you knew growing up or in school — and you can’t believe how much he or she has achieved since then.

I have no idea what this person looks like or what kind of business he or she is in or whether he or she defines success by a balance sheet or a full and fulfilling life.  But I’ll bet I can tell you a lot about this person, because I can identify his or her good habits.  There are simply a number of things that almost all really successful people do every day, and that others simply quit when they get too hard or inconvenient.

Let me know how close I am to the mark here.  (Seriously, let me know.)  I’ll bet that the highly successful person you’re thinking of is always.

1. Laughing

There are times to be serious–many times, in fact.  But successful people understand there is humor to be found in nearly any situation.  As H.G. Wells put it, “The crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.”

2. Learning

Growing up, my mom used to tell us: “No education is ever wasted.”  Successful people understand this.  That’s why they’re always challenging themselves and learning something new.

3. Listening

Nobody learns anything without listening.  Successful people recognize that they’re much better off hearing what others have to say — rather than telling them what they think they want to hear.

4. Asking

It’s one thing simply to remain passive and listen.  It’s another to combine listening and learning in a tactic we call “active listening.”  Successful people pay attention, think, and follow-up with questions.

5. Empathizing

No successful person ever led a team, sold to a customer, or inspired an audience without being able to put himself or herself into others’ shoes to see the world as they see it.  Empathy is a learned skill.

6. Questioning

Wait, didn’t we already cover “asking” on this list?  Good catch!  Questioning refers to a different kind of inquisitiveness — revisiting assumptions and asking “why not?”

7. Giving

Nobody ever accomplishes anything truly great alone.  Successful people understand this — and they know that before you can ask others to help you, you have to show that you’re willing to help others around you.

8. Thanking

Two simple words: “Thank you.”  Successful people know that gratitude engenders affection and makes further success more likely.

9. Failing

There is no failure without trying — but there is also no success without being willing to risk failure.

10. Adventuring

This can mean traveling or having new life experiences or doing just about anything to go beyond your comfort zone.  Successful people understand that you only grow when you’re willing to challenge yourself.

11. Loving

Whether we’re talking about loving your family, your work, your customers, or life itself, successful people know that a life full of love is simply better.  Here’s a hint, though: You don’t actually have to like everyone that you love.

12. Forgiving

Successful people understand that forgiving others is as much a gift to yourself as it is to them.

13. Remembering

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice — well, shame on the successful people who know better.  Don’t forget, though: There’s a big a difference between forgiving and forgetting.

14. Leveling

Life is usually easier when you’re brave enough to be candid.  Successful people know that the lure of dishonesty doesn’t only arise when they’re tempted to pump themselves up or hide truths.  It’s also a danger when they want to avoid conflict and “go along to get along” with others.

15. Risking

Every choice involves risk.  Even the decision to do nothing different is fraught with opportunity cost.  Successful people are great risk-takers, which means they’re risk-managers.

16. Prioritizing

Successful people are usually successful at more than one thing.  You don’t accomplish multiple objectives without deciding which to do first.

17. Accomplishing

At the end of the day, we’re judged by what we accomplish.  Truly successful people know that you can’t build a reputation, as someone once said, on the things you’re planning to do in the future.


  1. Comment by Emaar
    February 1st at 7:27 am 

    Great post. I especially like point 9 – failing. This is something most investors are terrified off and not prepared to go through.


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