Most of us are caught on a regular googling the net worth of successful people. It’s not as if Googling how much Bill Gate is worth will inflate your bank account but I must admit, it’s somewhat stimulating. The reason for this drooling habit may vary individually but what transcends across all front is the self-actualization ego it satisfies and the edge to push limitations aside and work harder. There are millions of books that claim to provide the recipe for success, whether they really do, it’s subject to a debate. One begins to wonder, what makes these individuals unique or special in that regard?
In the early 1970s, psychologist Walter Mischel wanted to explore the self-control in children, so resorted to an unassuming but effective experiment. He and his team of researchers presented a bowl of marshmallows to pre-schoolers. These kids were then told that the researchers had to leave the room for a few minutes. ”If you wait until we came back you’ll get two marshmallows. If you couldn’t wait, you could ring a bell and we will come back immediately, but then you could only have the marshmallow in front of you”. As simple as this task seemed, it revealed some amazing insights after Mischel interviewed these kids’ years later. The children who waited longer in the marshmallow test were more likely to do well in school. Their parents also rated them better at planning, handling stress, having self-control in frustrating situations, and concentrating without getting distracted. It turned out that Mischel’s simple marshmallow test in many ways could predict how successful the children would be later in life.
Successful people aren’t Martians, neither are they any different. What makes them torch in the crowd is their willingness to do what others wouldn’t like to do. The kids that waited longer in the marshmallow test exhumed not only self-control but practically did what most of the other kids didn’t want to do by waiting. “The common denominator of success — the secret of success of every person who has ever been successful — lies in the fact that they formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.” as rightly said by Albert E.N. Gray. Grey dedicated 20 years of his life finding what distinct characteristic defined successful people. Successful people are not born special, they learned to perfect the skill of self-control and the knack to the thread where most people will shy away from.
Randy Pausch was a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University (3). In 2007, he was given a terminal pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Before he passed away, he gave a fantastic lecture called “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” where he gave the following advice: “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
What are your brick walls? Your fear of what other people may say? Individually we are limited in a way but successful people understand that these walls are not fences restricting us from achieving our goals but just a distinctive barrier separating failures from those who want it badly. Andrew Mupuya, 24, Uganda Founder: YELI Paper Bags Limited. Raised in an extended family in a village in Manafwa district, eastern Uganda, Mupuya understands the struggle. Government grants paid for primary school and he had to find money for clothes. In 2008, 16-year-old Mupuya collected used plastic bottles, sold them to a recycling plant for 28,000 shillings ($8.50) and borrowed 8,000 shillings ($2.50) from his teacher to start YELI Paper Bags, a packaging and manufacturing company producing and marketing handmade eco-friendly paper bags from recycled paper. YELI has made 5.6 million bags that have sold in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Norway and the US. He employs 24 people, turning over $170,000 between June 2014 and June 2016. Andrew is listed on Forbes youngest richest people in Africa. It doesn’t take much to be successful if you ask me but first, you have to tear down those barriers and obstacles impeding your success.
What are you resisting in your life right now? What tasks should you get started on? Which projects should you complete? What habits should you get started? Who should you call? Make a move, work around your limitations and tear down that wall. Success is not innate it’s a habit you only need to cultivate.
The Common Denominator of Success by Albert E.N. Gray
Randy Pausch Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams