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10 qualities of successful people: A guide for distance learners

Success comes in many different forms. In North America, we tend to define success in monetary and vocational terms—how much you make or how far you’ve advanced in your career. But success extends to so many other areas: relationships, faith, character, and health, to name a few.

As a distance education student, you want to be successful in life. You know that getting there takes hard work. In this blog post, we’ll explore 10 of the top attributes of successful people. Whatever your future plans include as a high-school graduate, these characteristics will serve you well.

1. Resilience

How do you deal with failure? If you’re anything like me, it can be easy to retreat and sulk. But in my better moments, I view failure as a necessary step toward success. “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure,” said American author Napoleon Hill. A defining characteristic of successful people is their unrelenting habit of bouncing back after failure.

2. Flexibility

The ability to “pivot” is crucial to success. Pivoting simply means that you have the willpower and foresight to release a path you’d planned to walk in order to pursue something better. It’s a scary thing, but this type of flexibility is a trademark of successful people. Flexibility is particularly essential for young people just starting out—you might think you know the right direction to take, but opportunities and life circumstances will present a different way forward.

3. Self-discipline

Flexibility and adaptability might be important, but so is self-discipline and the courage to stick with something even when it’s incredibly hard. Yes, knowing when to quit (or “pivot”) and when to persevere is the real test. But the fact is that so many of us give up well before we should. “With self-discipline, most anything is possible,” said Teddy Roosevelt.

4. Others focused

The most successful people in life are radical servers. They look to meet the needs of others and excel at doing so. It’s counterintuitive that serving others would bring you success, but it’s true. Some practical takeaways from this? A big one is that as you build your network, make your interactions with others about what you can give, not what you can get.

5. Frequent reader

A personal story: I quit my day job in 2015 to launch a full-time self-employed career. In the months leading up to that pivotal decision, I read through a series of crucial books that gave me the knowledge and confidence to make the jump to start my own business, including The 7 Habits of Highly Effective PeopleThe Millionaire Next DoorYour Money or Your Life, and The 4 Hour Workweek. These books gave me the fuel to try something new and expand my horizons. The ultimate lesson? Successful people—think of Bill Gates, Mark Cuban, and Elon Musk—are also habitual readers.

6. Humility

Truly successful people don’t feel the need to boast about their accomplishments. They are secure in themselves and in their abilities. They don’t wear their success on their sleeve. Successful people bring others together to accomplish goals and for the greater good. “With pride comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom,” says Proverbs 11:2.

7. Abundance mindset

An abundance mindset means you believe there are plenty of opportunities and resources in the world for everyone to enjoy. You don’t need to steal success from someone else—when someone else is successful, that doesn’t mean they are taking success from you, and vice versa. An abundance mindset pairs well with resilience, because you realize that failure isn’t final. More opportunities are out there.

8. Calculated risk taking

Playing it safe leads to mediocrity. Most of us with more than a few years under our belt can look back and see that our greatest achievements in life came when we stepped out and took a risk. That being the case, don’t neglect the “calculated” part of this advice. Being a calculated risk taker means that you don’t fly blind—you examine the situation and make the right move, even a bold one, but it’s always grounded in reality, not pie-in-the-sky thinking.

9. Prioritization

We all have a limited amount of resources in our lives, time being the most precious. Figuring out your priorities and sticking with them is a prerequisite for success. Prioritization helps you know when to say yes and when to say no. If you’re anything like me, your to-do list never gets done. That’s why we have to put the highest priority items on the top and focus on those first. Everything lower can wait, or even not get done at all.

10. Love of life-long learning

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel,” Socrates said. Education in high school and college is not so much about the knowledge gained‚ as important as that is. It’s more about perfecting the ability to learn—and to continue in that ability for a lifetime.

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