Researchers have studied successful people meticulously for centuries, in a quest to identify the unique qualities and traits that they possess that allow them to be so successful in life. And self experimenters proceeded to verify the efficacy of these traits. But the thing is, there are some exceptions.
It is true that if we acquire certain traits, our life will be drastically improved. But those traits do not guarantee life success. It is possible to have these traits and still be struggling to have a good life. Also, there are people that don’t have any of these traits but, somehow, manage to find their way to the top.
Achieving success is far easier than people realize. What most people don’t know is, if you live your life accordingly — regardless of your natural abilities or talents, and as long as you’re not crippled by obstacles — , you will find success in everything you do.
A few days ago, a friend of mine got to a chapter in her textbook that discussed the defining traits that lead to life success. She was enthusiastic about knowing how to acquire these traits as an adult. But, unfortunately, the book did not say. She then reached out to me and asked me to shed some light on the matter.
The summary she made from her textbook is as follows.
Executive functions are skills and traits for regulating your own behavior. Suppressing impulses, working independently and planning are part of self-regulation, as are making choices, solving problems, reflecting on your work and working together. Learning self-regulation works best between ages 2–5.
6 years old self-regulating kids have a bigger vocabulary, remember numbers better, work independently, etc.
The Stanford marshmallow experiment works well to test a child’s self-regulatory abilities. According to the researcher (Walter Mishell,) the children who were able to postpone the reward (marshmallow) were later more successful in school, had better jobs, more fulfilling relationships and were healthier and happier later in life.
Your memory (RAM, responsible for short term saving of visual, spatial, verbal and kinetic info) regulates the executive functions.
The most important executive functions
The most important functions are:
- Inhibition: Filtering unimportant info, focussing on what’s important instead of ‘noise.’
- Shifting: Flexibly adapting to situations.
- Updating: Remembering something and updating old information, like when you listen to a story or solve a maths problem.
Promoting self-regulation in kids
Children can learn to self-regulate from an early age. They will benefit from learning self-regulation for the rest of their lives. Two important aspects of raising a child that contributes to learning self-regulation are:
- Sensitivity. Teaches the child empathic behavior and the child will know he’s welcome and doesn’t have to use negative behavior to get attention.
- Rules. When children are thought to follow rules, they end up integrating the rules and use them to self regulate.
Steven Covey discovered 7 self-regulating traits that differentiate successful people from non-successful people:
- Be pro-active (take responsibility for your behaviour, with your reaction you influence your surroundings.)
- Start with the end goal in sight (eye on the price.)
- Do the important stuff first (makes a good planner.)
- Think in win-win (other people’s interests count too. Teach a kid to ask what somebody else wants.)
- Aim to understand first, then to be understood.
- Use synergy (you can play the drums alone, but together you can make ‘more’ music!)
- Keep your saw sharp (be strict but also kind to yourself, take care of yourself.)
Possessing these traits is important for attaining success in life. But, as an adult, the only thing that matters in your pursuit of success is what you choose to do with your time. Everything else is negotiable.