What 5 rules would help me become successful if I applied them to my life?

(Originally posted on Quora)

Original Question:

Psychology: What 5 rules would help me become successful if I applied them to my life? I’m not looking for specifics such as brush your teeth, I’m looking for more interesting principles that can be applied to a variety of situations.

Here are the top five rules to help you succeed:

1. Compare yourself with yourself, not with your friends / neighbours / colleagues. It simply isn’t worth your time to compare what you have and your results to what other people have and have accomplished. There are always going to be people ahead of you, no matter what. That doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. What it means is you should be focusing on yourself and on your own accomplishments. How have you improved compared to a year ago today? How will you continue to improve next week? What will you do so that you can be even better five years from today?

2. Learn how to be a good conversationalist. One rule that many people believe in for starting a conversation is you have to appear friendly. Don’t try to impress people right away when you start the conversation. What you want to do is show you’re a relaxed, friendly, sociable person who wants to have a pleasant chat.

One skill to keep in mind in being a good conversationalist is the ability to ask open-ended questions (not the simple “yes” or “no” questions but the ones where the other person has to give long answers). Also, you sound boring if you are asking typical questions like “What do you do?” or “Where do you work?” Ask different types of questions.

One of my bosses once taught me that you pay attention to the person’s interests so that you can build a rapport when you start a conversation. For example, before a job interview, he reads through the candidate’s resume and perhaps notices a certain hobby that the person has. During the interview, this boss would make the candidate feel relaxed by asking about that hobby and make the conversation interesting and not stressful.

3. Do not be afraid of failure. Actually, don’t even call it “failure.” Instead, label it as feedback and as a natural part of a successful life. Even the most successful people in the world have had their fair share of “failures” (oops I meant “feedback”) but they always keep bouncing back and try to learn from those experiences.

As former NBA great Michael Jordan once said: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career… Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

The important thing is to find valuable lesson learned every time you didn’t succeed in something. Ask yourself: What can I learn from this?

4. Always try to learn new things to improve yourself. There are always new skills and knowledge you can learn through the Internet. Instead of focusing on time-wasting habits (such as too many hours on video games / iPhone games / gossiping / TV shows), spend more time to pick up new things. You never know, these might be helpful when you are applying for a job. Let’s say the interviewer looks at the resumes of you and three other candidates, and all of you seem to have the exact same educational background and experience. If you have a certain skill that other candidates don’t, that might set you apart from the others if everything else is equal.

5. Know what you want and work toward achieving it. I’ll use career as an example, although this can apply to other areas such as relationships. But let’s focus on career here. The reality is that you have to take responsibility for your own professional development. Nobody is going to help you on your path toward your career goal, except for yourself. So, it’s up to you to understand what you want, why you want it, and be prepared to take action to make it happen. Don’t be passive about it or the opportunities will be missed.

Good luck!


Posted on May 20, 2014, in Advice, Lessons Learned, Life. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: