“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failing, loyalty, and persistence.” – Colin Powell

With all the books, podcasts, blogs and feature stories touting various success tips, you’d think the world is populated with people at their wit’s end, all striving and climbing in a relentless pursuit to achieve what they think will make them happy.

One of the reasons for the confusion, as well as the plethora of advice about what it takes to be successful is that the solutions are unique to the individual. As with most things, what works for one person may not work at all or not as well for someone else.

Not that becoming a success is always a matter of trial and error. After a while, you do arrive at a list of techniques and strategies that have proven effective in your endeavors. This gives you something to start with, a handy toolkit to use the next time you’re contemplating a goal and trying to determine your game plan to achieve it.

Common Success Characteristics

Still, there are some common characteristics of success and what it takes to be successful that can prove helpful.

Hard work

At the top of the list of what it takes to be successful is a willingness to work hard. Success that’s too easy is something that’s not as valued, at least by most people. If you just happen upon success, you may start thinking that it’s owed to you, that you don’t have to do anything and it will come, or that it will always be there. That’s a form of dead-end thinking. Life isn’t one success after another, certainly not success that just happens to come your way. To be successful, you must put in the hard work to earn it.

Learning from mistakes

If the route toward success was a straight line with no interruptions or detours, more people would wind up being lazy, taking achievement for granted. They’d also never have the opportunity to learn from mistakes. For every success, there are multiple failures and mistakes along the way. A prime example involves some of the world’s greatest inventors, like Thomas Edison. If you give up after failure, you’ll never be a success. If you repeat the same mistake again and again, you’ll never get to the finish line. Make it a point to learn from what didn’t go right so that you’re that much further ahead the next time.

Doing your best

What you do doesn’t have to be perfect, but you do have to do your best. Perfectionism can be a trap, because if you aren’t satisfied until everything is perfect, nothing ever will be. But when you put forth all your effort, giving it everything you’ve got, that’s about as close to perfection as you’re going to come. Knowing you’ve given it your all, however, means that you will be that much closer to success.

Never giving up

Along with doing your best and learning from mistakes, it’s also important to be doggedly determined. Persistence does pay off in the long run, particularly if the task or project is lengthy and difficult. You must be willing to endure, to keep plugging away even when progress seems pitifully slow. You will get there eventually, or find a different goal or modify your current one, but only if you stay with it.

Demonstrating your loyalty

Think how much you value friends who are loyal to you. No matter what happens, they are always there for you and vice-versa. Loyalty in companies and between co-workers, as well as customers loyal to manufacturer’s products works much the same way. If you believe in someone or something, you’ll work hard to ensure the success associated with that person or entity. Your loyalty will help produce the result, which is usually considered success.