You’ll Never “Make It”

April 21, 2014

9:07 am

Success researcher Richard St. John wants everyone to avoid an all-too-common problem: success-to-failure syndrome.

In his book 8 to Be Great, he identified the eight characteristics of successful people:

  • They focus on passion, not money.
  • They work, but have fun: they’re “workafrolics.”
  • They get good by practicing.
  • They focus on a niche.
  • They push themselves physically and mentally, through shyness and self-doubt.
  • They serve others by offering something of value.
  • They generate ideas by listening and observing, being curious, asking questions, problem solving, and making connections.
  • They persist through failure and “crap” (criticism, rejection, assholes, pressure).

But successful people have one more key trait: they don’t stop doing this stuff once they “reach” success. The moment you think you’ve “made it” as a company isn’t the moment to get complacent, comfortable, and lazy; it’s the moment to keep practicing all the things that got you there.

“Success isn’t a one-way street. . . . it’s a continuous journey,” says St. John.

He experienced this himself when he started focusing on money over clients, doing stuff he hated and wasn’t good at (i.e., management), and tried to solve his depression with fast cars and Prozac. The clients disappeared: St. John had classic success-to-failure syndrome. When he started practicing the eight habits above, it took him a full seven years to reach his former level of success.

For more, watch St. John’s two TED talks, each less than 4 minutes:

[ted id=70]

[ted id=572]

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact

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