It’s truly fascinating how successful people approach problems. Where others see impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to embrace and obstacles to overcome.
Their confidence in the face of hardship is driven by the ability to let go of the negativity that holds so many otherwise sensible people back.
Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania has studied this phenomenon more than anyone else, and he found that success in life is driven by one critical distinction: whether you believe your failures are produced by personal deficits beyond your control or they are mistakes you can fix with effort.
Success isn’t the only thing determined by your mindset. Seligman has found much higher rates of depression in people who attribute their failures to personal deficits. Optimists fare better; they treat failures as learning experiences and believe they can do better in the future.
This success mindset requires emotional intelligence (EQ), and it’s no wonder that, among the million-plus people that TalentSmart has tested, 90 percent of top performers have high EQs.
Maintaining the success mindset isn’t easy. There are seven things, in particular, that tend to shatter it. These challenges drag people down because they appear to be barriers that cannot be overcome. Not so for successful people, as these seven challenges never hold them back.
Age really is just a number. Successful people don’t let their age define who they are and what they are capable of. Just ask Betty White or any young, thriving entrepreneur.
I remember a professor in graduate school who told our class that we were all too young and inexperienced to do consulting work. He said we had to go work for another company for several years before we could hope to succeed as independent consultants. I was the youngest person in the class, and I sat there doing work for my consulting clients while he droned on.
Without fail, people feel compelled to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do because of your age. Don’t listen to them. Successful people certainly don’t. They follow their heart and allow their passion—not the body they’re living in—to be their guide.
2. What Other People Think
When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own destiny. Although it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to hold up your accomplishments to anyone else’s, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within.
Successful people know that caring about what other people think is a waste of time and energy. When successful people feel good about something they’ve done, they don’t let anyone’s opinions take that away from them.
No matter what other people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain: You’re never as good or as bad as they say you are.
3. Toxic People
Successful people believe in a simple notion: You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Think about it: Some of the most successful companies in recent history were founded by brilliant pairs. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple lived in the same neighborhood, Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft met in prep school, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google met at Stanford.
Just as great people help you to reach your full potential, toxic people drag you down with them. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome or just plain craziness, toxic people create stress and strife that should be avoided at all costs.
If you’re unhappy with where you are in your life, take a look around. More often than not, the people you’ve surrounded yourself with are the root of your problems.