successful vs unsuccessful people

Successful People VS Unsuccessful People: What Do You Know?

Everyone wants to know the differences between the successful and unsuccessful people. So which side are you on? Are consider yourself successful? Or are you consider yourself unsuccessful? Let’s find out…

If you are reading this right now, I believe that you have the intention to be successful. Maybe you are on your way to achieving what you want in life, or maybe you just stumble across this article without knowing anything about it.

Whatever the reason, I would like you to understand that success is a choice. Anyone could be successful if they wanted to.

It is not about the skill, the talent, your education level or where you come from. It is about your will, determination, commitment and hard work.

You have read about dropouts turn self-made billionaires and you have also read about people who went from rags to riches. It has nothing to do with your circumstances or your current situation, it has everything to do with one person, you.

If you are not successful right now, don’t worry, your current situation is just where you are right now. It does not mean that you will be here forever. You can chance and you can be successful.

Here are the 10 biggest differences between successful people and unsuccessful people. Understand them, learn the differences and apply the success principles into your life today.

1. Leverage On What You Have


Successful people leverage on what they have while unsuccessful people blame and do nothing.

Do you know that for you to be successful, you must leverage on whatever you have? Be it your family, your friends, your partners, your competitors or whatever resources you have with you.

Let me give you some clear examples.

Leverage On People Around You

There is a father asks his 5-year-old boy to carry a pail full of water. Obviously, the boy is just not strong enough to carry the bucket of water.

The boy tries hard but eventually he gives up. He tells his father it is just too heavy and no matter what he did, he just cannot carry the pail of water.

The father then tells the boy, “Are you sure you have tried your best and did whatever you can? I’m standing here all the time but you did not even ask for my help.”

This is exactly what is happening to most ordinary people out there. They are just too afraid to ask for help. Help is everywhere and sometimes it can come from family and friends or even your partners.

However, most people are not conditioned to ask for help and leverage the resources available to them, they will be blinded to the help and opportunities around them.

If you want to be successful, you must learn to leverage on whatever you have.

Even your competitors, you can leverage on their strength and their power to reach your goals, in ethical means of course.

Leverage On Your Competitors

There was a famous war story in Chinese about leveraging on the enemies. The emperor wanted to launch an attack on the enemy in the next 2 days and he ordered his general to prepare 100,000 arrows.

It was just not enough time to get 100,000 arrows in such a short time. So the general order 10,000 ships to get near to the enemy base. And he ordered his men to put scarecrows on the ships.

So when their ships got near to the enemy base, the enemy thought that they were going to attack, so the enemy launched their attack with arrows. After a few minutes, the general asked his men to turn the ships around and return to their base.

In that short period, the general managed to accumulate more than 100,000 arrows from the enemies.

Leverage On The Public

Long ago there was an old public library in the UK wanted to move to a new library. It was a huge shift because the library has thousands and thousands of books.

And if they hire movers, it will take them a few days and it will be extremely costly because they will need a lot of trucks to move the books.

Suddenly, one of them came out with an idea. They put up a notice saying that books in the library were free to borrow for a month. The public and anyone can borrow the book from the old library, but when they return the book, they will have to return to the new library.

So within a few days, all the books in the library were gone and then moved to the new library when the borrowers returned the book.

Amazing story about leveraging on people’s help, right?

This is what you need to learn if you want to be successful. You must learn to leverage the resources available to you.

Why do you think big companies want to file for IPO? So that they can leverage on the public’s fund to grow their business and company.

And why do you think successful people want to start a business or a company? It is because they want to leverage on other people’s effort to reach their dreams.

Here’s a great quote from Elon Musk:

“I don’t create companies for the sake of creating companies, but to get things done.”

Elon Musk understood the power of leveraging on a company. He created a company to get things done, to reach his goals and to live his dreams.

So what can you leverage on? What can you do with the resources you have?

2. Play Your Cards Well

start where you are quote

Successful people play their cards well while unsuccessful people do not know how to play with the cards they have in their hands, they lose the game even when they have great cards with them.

Unsuccessful people will just complain and blame that they don’t have the luck or the opportunity.

The truth is that even when they have great opportunities, they do not know how to use the opportunity to build a successful business.

Do you know that whatever you have with you right now, money, capital, knowledge, your networks, friends, etc, are just potential power?

The money you have with you are not power, it is just potential power that is waiting for you to unleash it.

It doesn’t matter if you have a Ph.D., but if you do not know how to use your Ph.D. to achieve greater success in life, your Ph.D. will just be another normal paper sitting in your house.

This is how we have heard stories about people went from rags to riches. And conversely, we have also heard people went from riches to rags.

It is not about what you know or what you have. It is about using what you have and applying what you know.

Your Resources Don’t Count

You must know how to leverage and use what is available to you like what I have mentioned above.

You can come from a rich family, but if you don’t know how to manage your finances, soon enough you will use all your money and end up broke.

If you know how to manage your wealth and build businesses, you can be rich even if you come from a poor family.

Michael Jordan did not have the skills and talents, he created them. Some people have talents but they are too lazy to train and end up getting nowhere with their talents.

Look at people like Mike Tyson, Elvis and Britney Spears. They are talented and they made it once, but because they did not know how to manage their wealth and resources correctly, they squandered whatever they have gained.

On the other hand, you can see people such as Steve Jobs, Oprah and Jack Ma who built their successes from nothing.

Therefore, you have to learn to manage your resources. Know how to use them and handle them well.

Right Time, Right Place And Be The Right Person

Most people complain that they don’t have the opportunities to be successful. Is this true? Of course not; if you look around you, you will notice that there will be people complaining and there will be people creating successes in their lives.

Those who complain times are tough and they are not in the right place are the ones that will be flushed away. While those who work hard on their dreams no matter what happens are those who make it in the end.

Do you know that it is not enough to be at the right time and the right place? You need to be the right person as well?

Some people say that Bill Gates becomes a billionaire because he was at the right time and the right place when he was young.

If you are to switch places with Bill Gates, do you think you can build Microsoft and be a billionaire today? I don’t think so, why? Simple, because you are just not the right person; you are not Bill Gates.

Even when you are at the right place and at the right time, you may still not make it because you are not the right person. You have to be the right person to make it.

This is why you have to constantly prepare yourself for it. Les Brown said:

“It is better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.”

Sadly, most people do not prepare themselves because they don’t see the opportunity around. Opportunity will come and go. When you are ready, you can grab the opportunity when it comes.

Jeremy Lin trained hard even when he did not have the opportunity to play on the court. Until one day, he got the chance to play and perform on the court; he astounded everyone and shot to instant fame.

You have to be the same. You will never know when the opportunity will come, so all you need to do is to prepare yourself for it.

Work hard, take action each day and be the right person. Who knows when opportunity knocks, you will be able to make it to the top and other people will wonder why you are so ‘lucky.’

3. Follow Your Path

follow your path

Successful people are not afraid to be different and go against the crowd while unsuccessful people follow the crowd.

So what makes successful people so special while ordinary people are just plain normal? The answer can be as simple as because successful people are unique; they dare to go against the crowd.

They dare to do things differently than ordinary people and that is what makes them so special. When you see a purple cow, you will want to know more about it and you will get attracted to it because it is special.

Conversely, if you see a plain and ordinary cow, there is nothing special about it and you will just ignore it and continue with your life.

Why do most people follow the crowd and they don’t dare to be different? This is because most people are afraid of the uncertainties.

They are afraid what if they took the leap of faith and they fail? What if they quit their job to start a business but then they fail?

Zappos is one of the online market leaders in selling shoes, but they did not follow Amazon or other businesses, they have their culture and they focus on building strong customer relationships.

They are different and unique because they give surprises to their customers and upgrade their shipping. They give free shipping and even provide a 365 days return policy! This is where most businesses don’t dare to do and Zappos went on ahead to do it.

Their annual gross sales have gone above $1 billion and eventually been acquired by Amazon.

If you want to be different, the first thing you need to learn if you want to be successful is to persist on your dreams and believe in yourself.

Believe In Yourself And Your Dreams

There’s no guarantee that you will be successful if you take the leap of faith. When you decided to quit your job and start your own business, there is no guarantee that you will be successful in it.

However, the first step to achieving what you want in life is to believe in yourself and believe that it is possible.

Napoleon Hill once said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

You must first start by believing in yourself. It is when you believe in yourself, that you will take action and go according to your own way.

Imagine if you fail your high school test and people tell you that you are not good and so they suggest you to work in the post office or sanitary department, what would happen if you believe in them?

You will end up living people’s expectation and not your own expectation. So choose to believe in yourself and not what others expect of you.

Some successful people are dropouts from college, people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Some are uneducated, but these are not limiting them because they choose to believe in their own abilities. They trust their inner voice and chase their dreams.

They go against the crowd and follow their path. Of course, it is not an easy path. Successful people have gone through a lot of failures and mistakes before they finally achieve the results they want.

Unsuccessful people are afraid to be different because they scare that things will go wrong and they are afraid to fail.

“Success in life is the result of good judgment. Good judgment is usually the result of experience. Experience is usually the result of bad judgment.” – Anthony Robbins

You need to gain experience to make a good decision and take the right action. And experience comes from failures and mistakes that you make along your journey.

So dare to be different and follow your own path.

Take Calculated Risk

When it comes to going against the crowd, you must be clever in the sense that whatever you do must be something you are confident and that there is a high chance to succeed.

I have seen countless startups went bankrupt because the business owners simply did not know what they were doing.

They see someone started a coffee house and the business is good, they follow behind and open a coffee house too.

The same goes for people who wanted to make it on the internet. They see other people are making money from the internet in the comfort of their home; they wanted to do that as well and they started a blog.

They learn as much but after a few months, when they do not see any result, they choose to give up and quit or start another website. Some did not even last for a few months; they lasted only a few weeks.

While you need to do something different to be successful, there’s no point to jump in blindly and do whatever you think is right, you need to consider taking calculated risk and your probability to succeed.

If you want to see the sunrise and you keep running West, you will never get to achieve it. This is exactly what most people are doing.

For you to be different, you must first believe in yourself and your dreams. And then you need to have a proven system and strategy that will increase your probability of success.

4. Working Hard And Smart

work hard and smart

Successful people work hard and smart while unsuccessful people are not working for their dreams at all.

Do you need to work hard or work smart to be successful? You need both.

Working hard will make sure you outwork the competition and working smart will ensure you win the game in a more creative way.

A lot of people work hard, but they don’t work smart. They keep doing the same thing over and over again, and that is why they are getting the same old results they have always got.

Working smart is great, but if you are just smart and not hard working, you will end up working for someone who works smart and hard.

This is why most professionals work for people who may not have a better education level than them.

Working Hard

Success is difficult and it is going to take a lot of hard work, are you willing to do it?

Everyone knows that Arnold Schwarzenegger used to be very successful in his bodybuilding career, and he dedicated his success toward his hard work.

He said that he sacrificed his leisure times working out in the gym than partying on the weekends. When you spend time having fun and enjoying life, other people are working hard chasing their dreams.

When you are thinking about which shopping malls to go this weekend, successful people are busy planning and growing their business empire.

You have to sacrifice if you want to be successful. There is no way to maintain everything and keep the balance in every area of your life.

If you want to grow your business and career, you will have to spend more time and put in more focus in it. And when you do that, you automatically choose to sacrifice other areas of your life.

Well, you may be living the balance life you want after you have built up your business. But this is not really possible especially in the early phase where your business requires most of your attention.

So decide right now what you want to do with your life. If you choose to go all in to build your business, make sure you understand the consequences and willing to sacrifice other areas of your life.

Working Smart

If you keep doing what you always do, you will get what you have always got. Working smart is about improving your strategies to get better results you want.

You don’t have to change everything and do something totally different. All you need to do is to commit to small incremental improvement each day or each week.

If you improve only 1% each week, by the end of a year, you are not getting 52% increases, but you are getting more because the small increase will stack on and build even bigger increase.

This is where most people underestimate about improvement. They thought that to be successful; they need to have only one big break.

Success is not a one-shot process; it is the accumulation of small and consistent actions. Therefore, you must aim at improving your results each day.

You can ask yourself what you can do to improve just 1% in your business each week. Even though it may be just 1% a week, but by the end of a year, the change will be tremendous.

Do you know why savings won’t work for most people even though it is one of the surest ways to richest? It is because most people do not have the discipline to follow through and persist over a long period. They want an instant result and they want it big.

Remember, success comes from small and consistent actions, not big breaks.

Thus, work smart to improve your result and work hard to persist until you reach your dreams.

5. Be Extremely Positive

positive quote

Successful people are extremely positive with what they want while unsuccessful people are negative and afraid of success.

I know you have heard this at least a million times, but this is so important because without being positive, you will never going to succeed in whatever you do.

One of my favorite successful people, Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, once said that after he had got the chance to meet with other great people such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Larry Ellison, he said that he discovered something similar in all of them.

Jack Ma said that these great people are extremely positive about the future. They believe that the future will be a better place than now.

And when you think about it, it is true that successful people are extremely positive because being positive is one of the keys to their success.

Would you start a business if you are not positive about it? Would you go all out and pour in your best effort to chase your dream if you are not positive about it?

You know the answer. It is when you are positive about what you do that you will do it with your full capability because you expect things to turn out well.

The problem with most people is that they choose to focus and think about negative things than the positive.

They choose to think about what if things go wrong or what if they fail than what if things work out and they become successful kind of thoughts.

When you have doubts, you will tend to pull back on your actions. You will never want to go all in and you will start to think that whether the things that you do are correct.

And when that happened, your beliefs will start to shake and if you let it continues, you will eventually stop taking action and end up frustrated because of your negative thoughts.

Negative thinking is not real; they are just thoughts that you created in your head.

So just get over it and start thinking positively. I know that sometimes the situation may seem dire, but you have to keep the positive perspective going.

Read more books, talk to people who have gone through similar situations as you and study other successful people.

When you notice that there are other people who have more problems than you, you will feel grateful and appreciate your situation.

Understand that hardship are there to grow you, not to break you.

6. Build A Team

team quote

Successful people build their successes with a group of people while unsuccessful people try to do everything themselves.

Do you know that success is not a one man thing? You cannot accomplish big goals and become a billionaire by working alone.

If you read the biographies of successful people such as Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Walt Disney, etc., you will notice that they all started in a group of few people.

So why do you need to build a team? Here are some reasons you have to understand…

Creating Synergy

You can accomplish more when you are in a group. Think about it, why do companies want to hire people? All you can do is just so much and if you are trying to do everything alone, it will be difficult to create the breakthroughs you desire.

Successful people understand this and they started in a group. Usually, people will start with their inner circle. Walt Disney started with Roy Disney. Steve Jobs started with Steve Wozniak. Bill Gates started with Paul Allen.

What about you? When you do something in a group, you created the synergy and able to accomplish more than just doing things alone.

Commitment and Accountability

When you do your business in a group, you have the commitment and the accountability to work on things. You will tend to be more committed than just doing it alone.

When you are down, your partner can cheer up or the other way round. You will have someone to hold you and to push you to move forward.

This is extremely important because when you are doing things alone, you are accountable only to yourself. This is why people procrastinate because no one cares if they reach their goals or not.

Sharing the Excitement

When you are running a business in a team, it is more fun because you can share the fun and the excitement together. You share the successes and failures together with your team.

On the other hand, when you try to do it by yourself, you have no one to share your success and failure. Of course, you can tell your spouse, but she will never fully understand because she is not in the situation.

This is what makes a team so important.

However, there are also troubles and headaches that will come along when you do something in a team.

There will be times when the situation is tense and team members will argue because of different opinions.

But if you look at it, it is a good experience because then you can learn to manage people effectively and how to solve arguments between people.

So assemble your members and build your dream team from now on. If you started alone, it is alright. You just need to keep doing and be open to inviting people into your venture.

7. You Are Your Business

life quote

Successful people are their business and they are extremely obsessed with what they do while unsuccessful people treat their business like a hobby.

What would you think about when you think about Steve Jobs? You will think about Apple, the iPhone or the iPad. What about Mark Zuckerberg? You will think about Facebook instantly. How about Richard Branson? Virgin Airlines will come into your head, right?

Successful people represent their business. They are their business.

They are extremely obsessive with their work and what they do. Robin Sharma, the author who wrote The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari has a great quote:

“Until our mission becomes our obsession, we will be chained to the realm of average.”

If you want to be average, treat your dreams and success like your hobby. Do it when you feel like it and do it when you are convenient.

If you want to be extraordinary and successful, you must be extremely obsessive with your dreams. You must do it and work on it whether you want it or not.

When something becomes an obsession, it becomes a must-achieve. You will do whatever it takes to reach it.

No matter if you have to wake up at 5am, sleep only 3 hours a day, sacrifice your leisure time, spend your weekend working on your dreams, nothing matters because you are obsessive towards your dreams.

Success Is About Principle

Success is taking action regardless of whether you like it or not. Most people are controlled by their feeling and emotions.

They don’t feel like waking up and they don’t feel like taking action. Instead, they feel like wasting time on Facebook, surfing YouTube or playing games on their phones.

Successful people are different. They are not about their feelings and emotions. They learn to control their feelings and emotions. They choose to follow their principle and do what they need to get done.

They take action; they wake up and they stay later be it whether they like it or not. They feel lousy and tired, but they choose to do it anyway.

This is the biggest difference between successful and unsuccessful people.

So how do you make your dreams an obsession?

Think About It All The Time

Successful people think about their dreams and the success they want all the time. They think about it when they eat, drink and at every moment. They can’t even sleep at night because they can’t stop thinking about their dreams.

Conversely, unsuccessful people think about other menial things such as what to eat, where to go, which game to play, or what movie to watch.

Your thinking shapes your life. So choose to think about your dreams and the successful life you want.

Stop giving yourself excuses thinking about things that eat away your life. Instead, consciously think about the success you want.

Write down your goals, create a vision board, practice visualization, form a team, talk about your dreams and constantly take action each day.

8. Ability To Bounce Back

bounce back quote

Successful people treat their failures as feedback while unsuccessful people look at failures as it is and give up on their dreams.

One very powerful lesson you must learn is to treat every mistakes and failure as feedbacks and lessons to learn from.

Do you know that the more successful you are, the more failure and mistakes you will make?

Successful people are successful because they have ventured far enough and they made enough mistakes and that built their characters and made them successful.

Average people will never dare to venture out of their comfort zone and they are always playing safe.

As a result, they never learn and they never grow the success characters. Thus, they live average and ordinary.

Failures And Mistakes Are Necessary

You have to understand that failures and mistakes are necessary for your journey to success. They are what will make you successful.

Most people get it wrong and they want to avoid making mistakes and failures. It does not work this way.

Success comes because of failures and mistakes, not in the absence of them. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

Turn Frustration Into Inspiration

You must learn to turn your frustration into inspiration. You must learn to use your mistakes as feedback and learn from your failure to build success in life.

The 3M Sticky Notes was a failed project. They wanted to create something that sticks forever but the project failed and the notes did not stick at all. Luckily, one of them asked the right question, “What can we use this for?” and turn the frustration into inspiration.

Today, the 3M Sticky Notes is considered one of the most successful inventions from 3M.

Do you know that Tom Watson, the founder of IBM was once fired by a company called NCR? He was so frustrated and angry that he said he would go on and build a company to rival NCR. In the end, Thomas Watson founded IBM and became a billion-dollar tech company.

Successful people move forward in spite of failures and mistakes. They believe in themselves and their dreams. They choose to learn from their mistakes and failures.

And eventually, they bounce back higher and achieve even greater results in life. And you must learn to do that.

9. Becoming The Best

becoming the best

Successful people are paid to master their crafts while unsuccessful and ordinary people are paid to work.

How do you command top dollar? The answer is simple; you become the best in your industry and then you can charge top dollar.

Therefore, one of your aims should be becoming the best in your industry. You want to become the top 10% in your niche and in what you do.

And the only way to do this is to master your craft.

Successful people are always willing to learn and improve their crafts. They are willing to work harder, get up earlier and stay later than most ordinary people.

I have seen a lot of people refuse to be the first to reach office and they have made it their policy not to leave office the last.

Ask yourself, what is there to gain from doing this?

You are spending one-third of your time working and if you do not have the passion for improving your work, why do you even consider working then?

Do you know that you are going to spend decades of your life working? So choose to master your craft and become the best. Not just plain ordinary like everyone else.

Develop Your Competitive Edge

When it comes to becoming the best, you must develop your competitive edge. You must ask yourself this question, “What can I do to be different than the rest?”

You want to build something that has a competitive edge that differentiates you from your competitors.

There are just too many ordinary companies and businesses out there. If you want to win, you must be different and unique.

A good example is Zappos. I love the Zappos story because recently I have just read the book and it is a very interesting book from the CEO, Tony Hsieh.

Zappos is different because they focus on building strong customer service. They differentiate themselves from others through providing top-notch customer service.

On the other hand, if you look at Apple, you will know their competitive advantage as well.

Apple focuses on design and user-friendly interfaces. Instead of allowing people to install and amend the programming like in Windows, Apple created an operating system that is fully controlled by them.

You cannot amend or change the program easily. Apple wanted to create something easy to use and where people will appreciate its design.

So what can you be good at? How do you want to differentiate yourself from the rest? What is your competitive edge?

These are some of the crucial questions you must ask yourself to master your craft.

10. Creating A Bold Vision

visionary quote

Successful people have a bigger vision in life and they want to serve and help others while unsuccessful people only want to help themselves.

What do you want to accomplish in your life? It is said that people are chasing 3 things in life. And these 3 things are what drives people to do what they do…

First, material objects. Most people dream to drive luxury cars, live in a big house, travel in first class, etc. These are luxury items and the motivation you can get from them will never last.

In fact, the drive you get from chasing material objects will last the shortest. The moment you achieved it, you will wonder what’s next?

Second, your passion. Studies have shown that a lot of successful people can motivate them to work harder because they are passionate in what they do.

We all know that passion is important and we need to live our lives with passion. Without passion, you will never have the drive to move forward and to achieve what you want.

However, passion can only take you so far. The happiness, fulfillment and drive you get from your passion will not last forever.

Third, an inspiring vision. This is where true successful people are in. They have a bold vision bigger than themselves. They are doing it because they want to serve and make the world a better place.

People who are in this category are very obsessive with their vision. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa are in this category.

They are driven and motivated to do something because of a bigger cause than themselves. Studies have shown that if you are driven by this inspiring vision, your motivation will last the longest.

Jack Ma wanted to build a borderless world that connects everyone globally through e-commerce. He sees that people from all over the world can trade online regardless of their locations and countries.

Elon Musk built Tesla because he wants to lower the emission of Carbon Dioxide and fuel consumption. He wanted to create a clean world through his electric cars ventures.

So you know how to get inspired and driven right now.

All you need to do is to incorporate and combine the 3 factors above into your dreams and your goals.

Have all of them to drive and motivate you forward each day. Find out what you want to accomplish in life, what are the shiny objects that you have always wanted, how you can be passionate in what you do and what is your vision of serving and helping others.

Most ordinary people stop at the level of chasing physical objects; no wonder their motivation never last and they tend to give up too soon.

Successful people put their inspiring vision in the first place and then they work on their passion. And finally, when they made it, they will reward themselves with some luxury items.


This is a long and very detailed article. I hope that you will benefit from these 10 differences between successful and unsuccessful people.

Since you have reached the end of this article, if you like what you read here, do yourself and your network a favor by sharing this article.

And finally, what do you think about this? Do you agree with my list? Drop me a comment below and share your thoughts.

Love what you read? Let's share it:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.