Steal Success: How to Learn From the Journeys of Others

February 11, 2013  |  


When you read business profiles, are you sure you’re paying attention to the right parts of the story? When your competitors are successful, are you looking for flaws, or how they achieved success? You could be cheating yourself out of valuable lessons without realizing it.

Studies show that we learn more from success than failure. There’s a reason coaches have their players watch footage of the greats. Seeing others maximize their potential makes it easier to improve our own behavior. Next time you come across a success story, don’t focus on the superficial.

Get proof that it’s possible.

While our own dreams seem unattainable, some people make success look easy. More often than not, a lot of hard work is going on behind the scenes. When successful people talk about how they became who they are, pay attention to the obstacles they faced along the way. How are they similar to the issues you are dealing with? Focus on how the individual overcame their obstacles and think about how you can apply that to your situation.

Get a motivational boost.

Nothing gets you off your butt and ready to take action like seeing your peers passing you by. Instead of giving your friends and competitors the side eye, use their success as a motivator. Forget looking for the negative. What strategies can you borrow from their progress?

Learn from someone else’s mistakes.

Everyone makes mistakes. Thank God! Because learning from the missteps of others can keep you from repeating them in your own life. Look for lessons others have learned. How do they get themselves in a bad situation and how do they get out of it?

Find out how successful people think.

Success often requires making high-risk decisions. Pay attention to how successful people manage these risks. How do they weigh the pros and cons of their decision? What steps do they take to reduce negative consequences?

Get new sources of inspiration.  

If you admire someone, find out whom they admire. This gives you insight into how your role model became who they are, and how their brain works.

Warning: Notice your differences.

Every trick doesn’t work for every person. Pay attention to how your situation differs from the person’s story you’re studying. Do you have a smaller market, lower budget, or a more conservative audience? Take those differences into account as you strategize how to apply their strategy to your situation.

Repeat success; learn from your victories.

Don’t put all your attention on what other people are doing. You’re making some pretty impressive moves yourself. When you achieve something, analyze what made you successful. Learn what your strengths and abilities are so you can call on them to get over hurdles in the future.

You’re ready to consume success stories like never before. Check out profiles and business spotlights like those featured on Madame Noire whenever you can. Read autobiographies of the people you admire (and the people they admire). Subscribe to the blogs of people who have the job you want. A major perk of our over-sharing culture is that people are giving away their secrets to success for free.

These strategies aren’t just effective for succeeding in business. Whatever you want to accomplish – losing weight, buying a house, changing a habit – there’s someone who’s been there, done that, and ready to show you the way.


C. Cleveland is a freelance writer and content strategist in New York City, perfecting living the fierce life at The Red Read. She is at your service on Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).


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