One question that often comes up in life, business and work is….

What is the Number One Key to Success?

There is a lot of content out there about habits, routines and factors contributing to success, most of these are relevant and useful, but if we wanted to cut through all that and find that one thing underlying it all… what would that be?

Is it even possible to have one factor, that if you got it right and with a little hard work, everything else will fall into place?

Could it be taught? Could it be learned? Or are you born with it?

Well… it turns out, people have been researching this for many years, and have found that the number one predictor of success is:

Fist Pump

Simple and pure perseverance, courage and strength to push through and push on in the pursuit of long-term goals!

The research discovered that grit in individuals is a strong combination between passion and perseverance, and more importantly, the view that failure is always temporary and success is a long-term goal.

Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania is one of the leading researchers in the area of how self-control and grit can be used to predict success in academic, business or other professional endeavors. Check out her presentation at TED Talks Education in 2013.

A Summary of the Key Points from the Talk

For those who are short on time, here are a few important points from the talk:

  • IQ was not the only difference between the best and the worst students in her math class.
  • We need to start looking at education and learning from a motivational and psychological perspective.
  • What if doing well in school or in life, depends on much more than the ability to learn easily and quickly?
  • Her research asks one question: Who is successful here, and why?
  • One characteristic was evident in all the cases as a significant predictor of success in the subjects. It wasn’t looks, strength, social intelligence or even IQ.
  • The largest predictor was grit, defined as passion, perseverance and stamina for your future and long-term goals. In essence, living life like it is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • This factor is not just important in challenging situations and endeavors, it is also extremely important in schools and for kids at high risk of dropping out.
  • We know very little about building grit, motivation and work ethic from a scientific perspective.
  • Grit is unrelated to talent.
  • One of the best ideas to build this motivation and work ethic in kids is “growth mindset” (an idea by Carol Dweck at Stamford University)
  • Growth Mindset shows that the ability to learn is not fixed, but rather it can change with your effort. If you teach people about the brain and how it changes and grows from challenges, they are more likely to continue through a failure because they understand it isn’t permanent.
  • Conclusion: We need to have more grit about helping our kids become ‘grittier’.

While the core theme of the talk was centered on education for children, the research and concepts were also applicable to adults.

The question then remains…

How Do We Go About Getting Grit?

So while Angela concluded her talk saying that she doesn’t quite yet know how to build this stamina and motivation in people, she did put forward one idea: Growth Mindset – understanding that you are able to develop your skills through effort and hard work, rather than accepting that your talent and skills are fixed (a.k.a Fixed Mindset).

I believe we can also draw upon a few additional concepts observed and talked about by other experts and successful individuals.

Let’s break it down and go through some factors:

  • Understanding that Failure is Not Permanent – If we understand that failure in any sense, large or small is temporary, then we are more likely to persevere through it.
  • Setting Long-Term Goals and Persevering at a Scale of Years (not months or weeks) – We must understand that achieving things in life are all part of one great big marathon. Slow down and take the time to clarify your goals and reasons for these goals.
  • Patience – Deploy patience in all you are trying to achieve, as long-term goals take time to achieve. It is all about continual progress, not mind-blowing results.
  • Tenacity through Adversity – Your ability to push through tough moments is key in achieving success. Be persistent and be determined to achieve what you’ve set out to do.
  • Focus on the Journey Not the Result – Enjoy the journey because that’s were stories are made and the magic happens.
  • Self-Awareness – Your ability to understand yourself is a key attribute of being adaptable and understanding the best ways to motivate yourself or approach a challenge.
  • Flexibility and Adapting to Change – Being open to change is key to success, because as clichĆ©d as it is… the only constant is change.
  • Confidence – Having the confidence in yourself and your abilities will help you drive forward. Your build this by making decisions that build your confidence, rather than take away from it.
  • Conviction – Standing by your beliefs and ideals will allow you to stay true to yourself, which in turn builds inner confidence and stability.

So that is a lot to take in, and not particularly actionable… in that case, how do we actually start building up our grit?

I believe we can start by winning the battle inside ourselves that often eats away at our energy and motivation, resulting in a lack of inner drive to push-through obstacles.

We can do this by establishing a foundation of success habits that will improve our mindset and energy. They are called the 6 C’s and will help you develop the right routines, habits and mindset.

From there you can start working on the factors above and little-by-little, day-by-day you will continually improve yourself.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this article has given you some insight into achieving success, both from a research perspective and from what others have observed.

The key here is to get yourself right in terms of your mindset and habits, and from there you will find that anything can be learnt and overcome on your pathway, whatever that may be.

Take the time, don’t rush, and enjoy the journey from where you currently are to where you would like to be.

Are you ready!? Yes! Then get pumped and get inspired!
There is no Motivator better than Progress, and there is no progress without Action – Tweet This
Let’s Do This!


  1. Watch Angela’s Talk or read the summary of key points.
  2. Work on your mindset and habits of success.
  3. Ask me any questions you might have.
  4. Continue your journey!
  5. From what you have observed, would you agree with Angela’s research? Let me know your thoughts below, I’d love to hear them!

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Hey guys! I have a strong passion for online business and enjoy helping people escape the 9-5 office, by creating online businesses. I want to help people build a source of income that is separate from their time, allowing them to pursue their dreams and passions. Together we can focus on designing a life we don't need to escape from! If you ever need any help or have questions, I'm here, just give me a shout anytime!

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