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8 Habits Of People Who Have Achieved Success Against The Odds

We're all familiar with rags to riches tales -- the entrepreneur who went from being almost homeless to netting a bank balance in the hundreds of millions, or the university dropout-turned-software giant. And while success for some may appear easy, it's often far from it. With the odds firmly stacked against them, their victories make us ask ourselves the question: if THEY can do it, why can't I? From goal-setting to tenacity, below experts identify the habits of people whose setbacks have helped fuel a drive for success.

1. They do what they love. It stands to reason that when you're passionate and excited about something, it ceases to have the 'work' tag attached to it. "When you're engaged in such work, you do not want to stop," says psychotherapist, Nick Terrone. Nick references Vincent Van Gogh as an example. Van Gogh sold only one piece during his lifetime, yet his passion drove him to paint almost 900 works. The key? Find your passion.

2. They focus on a goal. "Facing significant difficulty can boost the value that an individual places on a goal, which can enhance motivation," said life and career coach at Upstairs Coaching, Alex Kingsmill. Having a goal sounds like straightforward advice, but often settling on where you want to end up -- particularly when it comes to career and family decisions -- can seem overwhelming. But there's no need to bite off more than you can chew, to start with at least. "If goal setting and striving doesn't come naturally, start out small. A few quick achievements will boost your confidence and fuel your motivation. Then aim bigger and reward yourself along the way," Kingsmill said.

3. They manage their internal dialogue. We all have the nagging 'voice' in our heads that can remind us of our shortcomings, but according to life coach and founder of Vision Scope Coaching, Tammi Kirkness, a hallmark of those who have achieved success despite the odds is that they're able to effectively manage this 'internal dialogue.' So what are they doing that we should be doing too?

"They've been able to master it," she said of that inner voice. "Once they've recognised the existence of it, they continuously acknowledge and manage it in a way that helps to motivate and encourage their pursuits."


3. They are confident. It's a habit common in most entrepreneurs, but confidence is an even more important in those who overcome obstacles to succeed, explains psychologist, Elizabeth Neal. "The belief that they will succeed no matter what can be seen especially in those that have had struggles in their path to success," she said. "Take for instance, Richard Branson, who was diagnosed with dyslexia in childhood, yet his confidence and underlying beliefs in his ability take on any challenge at hand has lead him to enjoy his success." So what can we learn from those amongst us ? "Confident individuals communicate with certainty that a challenge can and will be met effectively."

4. They're tenacious. When it comes to habits in those who have triumphed over adversity, tenacity is a pretty essential trait. "Many want success, but aren't willing to accept the challenges the road to greatness demands," explains performance and meditation coach, Matt Griggs. Henry Ford -- founder of Ford Motor Company -- certainly encountered many challenges. His early businesses flopped and he went bankrupt no less than five times before finally achieving success. But Griggs explained we can all learn tenacity, if we try. "To become tenacious you need to learn from setbacks. I've learned the only way to avoid losing is to avoid trying and unfortunately, many people do. If you want to develop tenacity, then meditation and constant contemplation is a great habit to get into."


6. They have faith. No, not religious faith necessarily, rather a deeply held belief in themselves, which is a cornerstone trait in achieving success. "Strong faith keeps these people going when others might throw in the towel," psychotherapist, Dr. Karen Phillip said. "It's the foundational building block that allows them to take the risk and to move forward with their dreams."

7. They don't see obstacles -- they see solutions. Thomas Edison -- creator of the lightbulb -- took between 1,000 and 10,000 attempts before creating the world-changing invention. It's worth asking ourselves just how many times we've stopped ourselves pursuing something because of the perceived difficulties we will encounter along the way? "It's all a matter of perception," said Ben Harvey, educator and co-founder of Authentic Education. "An unsuccessful person may think of starting a business, but then encounters obstacles and thinks, 'what if I fail?'. Whereas the successful person sees solutions, 'how can I learn more?' or 'how will I succeed?'"

8. They learn from their mistakes. He may be world's richest man, yet Bill Gates believes that his failures are an important learning tool, he famously said -- "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." Despite dropping out of high school and enduring failed business ventures, this go-getter went on to achieve great things. It's a habit that registered psychologist, Dr. Marny Lishman, believes is shared with those bound for success. "They look at what has happened and can make recommendations for going forward in their life rather than getting bogged down in their perceived failures. Taking on board what has worked -- and what didn't," Lishman said.

At Johnnie Walker, we love sharing stories of personal progress, innovation and spirit. And why wouldn't we? Our own story is one of a pioneering spirit passed on from generation to generation. It's this belief in the philosophy of perseverance and progress that allows us to continuously share inspiring stories to all.

In this series, we are shining a light on people who approach life with this same philosophy – one of a humane, resilient and optimistic mindset, especially in the face of adversity that enables them to Keep Walking.

Johnnie Walker
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