Is success something we’re born with or something we cultivate?
Some people believe that you’re either born to be successful or not, but science doesn’t bear that out. People from all walks of life, all backgrounds, and all genetic dispositions can be successful.
In fact, studies on successful people seem to suggest it’s more about habits and perspective — things you can learn and cultivate — than any inherent traits. More nurture than nature, if you will.
If you’re interested in improving your own success quotient, try these 7 things, all backed by science.
- Expand your network. According to multiple, peer-reviewed studies, simply having a larger network comprised of many unconnected people was the best predictor of success, compared to those who had smaller, closed networks. Putting yourself out there, meeting new people outside your industry and comfort zone could be the best thing you could do to improve your success.
- Put the Zeigarnik Effect to work. The Zeigarnik effect states that unfinished projects or tasks stick in our brain more than finished ones. So if you have something you’ve been putting off, just take one step towards getting started. Chances are, the Zeigarnik effect will kick in, and your brain will prompt you to continue — just for that sense of closure.
- Strike a power pose. If you’ve listened to Amy Cuddy’s popular TED talk, you know that your body language not only affects how others perceive you, but how you actually feel about yourself. Get in the habit of adopting one of her power poses, and you will naturally feel and act more powerful and successful.
- Schedule decisions for the morning hours. In the modern world, we have to make decisions all day, every day, and that can cause decision fatigue. By simply choosing to analyze and make important decisions earlier in the day, we can increase our chances of making the best choice.
- Meditate for 12 minutes. Studies show that as little as 12 minutes a day of meditation has major implications for your brain health and memory. It’s also good for your stress levels and physical health, both of which can be indicators of success.
- Focus on progress as a reward. Common knowledge seems to be that enticing positive behaviors with rewards, like bonuses or a pay rise, is the best way to motivate people. But actually, according to science, money is actually a poor predictor of success. Focusing on progress — talking about how far you’ve come instead of what you have left — is a much better predictor of success.
- Be wrong. Innovators, CEOs, and all sorts of successful people often credit failure as the key to their success. Owning their failures, and more importantly learning from them is a key way successful people learn and grow. Try to catch yourself when you start to blame your mistakes on outside forces. You might even go so far as to note mistakes in your journal and start reviewing them to detect patterns and lessons.
While success may not be genetic, it does require a certain mindset: one of constantly learning and improving. Approach your success as an experiment, and try out some of these suggestions.