Most Likely to Succeed

by Krantcents · 37 comments

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Were you voted most likely to succeed? In my high school, it was the valedictorian.  When you were in school, the only measurement of success was grades.  Football Captain, Student Government President or newspaper editor were worthwhile experiences, but won’t get you elected most likely to succeed.  Prom King or Queen was good too, however it still won’t make you most likely to succeed.


How do you identify leadership or any other successful traits in school?  Should it only correspond to grades?  If grades were the only indicator of success, we should just test everyone and find the brightest people to send to college.  Wait a second, we sort of do that!  We test using College Boards to identify the brightest students and along with their grades give this information to colleges to select applicants.  Thankfully colleges just use it as a guide to select students for admission.  Colleges use a variety of factors to select students because potential is not measured in a test.

There are a variety of factors that affect student performance in school.  Test scores do not reflect creativity, artistic ability, potential for success, or personal relationships.  Test scores will measure what is on the test.  The test scores may be inaccurate, culturally or socially biased.  No single test was ever meant to indicate academic success.  It along with other information such as grades and extra-curricular activities tell the college much more about the student.  Colleges still look at other factors to determine selection which shows that there is more to success than a score or grade.

How do you know who will be successful in their career?  Grades in college are one indicator, but should not be the only one.  Success academically does not necessarily translate into success in the real world.  A college degree does not guarantee success in the real world either.  There are a number of famous college dropouts who are very successful.  People like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, or Bill Gates to just name a few.  It would be great if we could accurately predict who will be successful and give them all the resources to help them.

Secrets of Success

Why do some people succeed and others do not?  Was it the grades they earned in school?  Less than 5% of people achieve success in life!  Successful people may not be successful in school.  They are successful people in school who cannot interview well.  How can you get hired, if you do not interview well?  What can you do?  You can learn how to interview and various other skills to get hired.  Success is more than just getting a job.  Success in your career is much more than just doing a job, it is getting along with people and working together to achieve the company goals.

Successful people are generally self motivated, have a positive attitude, goal oriented and go beyond what is expected.  Since human beings are complex and have a variety of traits that can either help them succeed or keep them from succeeding.  Learning how to succeed is part of school too.  It may be a subject you do not like or getting along with your classmates.  These are opportunities for learning and succeeding.  All these things and more contribute to your success.  There are many students or people who have potential, but do not use it.  There are underachievers in school who blossom late.  This is all part of the differences in people.

What Can You Do?

How can we make more people successful?  As parents, we have a responsibility to expose our children to all their interests.  We need to establish high expectations whether academically, athletically or socially.  See, there is really no perfect guide or education for everyone.  If there were, we would put everyone through it and everyone coming out of it would be successful.

Since we cannot pick our parents, what can you do?  You learned how to get your questions answered.  Read about successful people and try to emulate them.  To start, you need to be self motivated and find the answers to questions you have not thought of yet.  Use school as your personal laboratory to investigate everything and learn how to use the information to prepare yourself for your future.  Have your teachers and adults help you achieve success.

Final Thoughts

Success is not an easy goal because it takes so much to get there.  If it was as simple as setting a goal and working toward it, most people would achieve success.  I wrote an article about successful and unsuccessful people which show how different they are.  School is more than a lot of meaningless classes; it is in many ways preparation for life.  Performing academically is just part of the success formula.  Don’t forget that club, project, committee or experience that will teach you what you need to be successful.  Student s learn about so many subjects so they will find what interests them as much as learning the material.

Many of you are finished with school and pursuing a career.  How will you find success?  Is it hard work, motivation, goal setting or just plain determination?  They all work, but there is no formula for success.  All of us are influenced by our experiences, role models and the rest is up to you.  What are you doing and are you successful?  Were you most likely to succeed?

Photo by:  Franz Patzig


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Tim December 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I think I was voted for one of those ‘superlative’ awards “most likely to ____.”  I can’t remember – maybe there should have been a “most likely to forget something” award.

That 5% success rate is interesting because it begs the question: “How do you define success?”  I think a motivated, driven, smart, entrepreneurial person could be successful in one person’s view but a failure in his own.  I’m not saying that you suggested this, but I think that if we define success on the size of our bank account or home, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment.  I hope I can measure success by relationships and other personal achievements outside of financial measurements. 

krantcents January 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Everyone measures success differently, however the individual is key in the equation. It is always upp to the individual to make it happen

krantcents December 19, 2011 at 3:43 pm

The normal definition of success is accomplishing what you set out to do.  Achieving a goal is success however meaningless.  Success in the sense of being successful is much more complicated! 

Marie at FamilyMoneyValues December 20, 2011 at 2:24 am

Krant cents:  I don’t understand what you mean when you say ‘Success in the sense of being successful is much more complicated”.  Where did your 5% success rate figure come from?

krantcents December 20, 2011 at 3:29 am

The reason it is complicated is there is no set of tests, or requisites that would indicate you will be successful. You can analyze successful or rich people and come up with traits. As soon as you do, you will find exceptions too. I fond the 5% in an article, however I think it may not be accurate. I believe it may be inaccurate because success is subjective!

MoneyCone December 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I realized early on what I wanted to do and doing what I enjoy as a career made success seem easy.  

krantcents December 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I can relate to that, I always knew I loved money and business. The only thing left was what function. It seemed like a natural choice of finance and accounting and eventually entrepreneurship.I think what helped me was exposure to these things early. What helped you?

Maria@moneyprinciple December 19, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I was, actually, Strangely (and not based on marks alone) everyone was convinced that ‘I’ll get far’. How far, we are yet to see…

As to success, I am not going to raise the issue of its very personalised definition (given that success is personally defined I suspect far more than 5% of people are successful) but would like to mention something else. Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers posited that success is wrongly presented to be only personal achievement when it is to a large degree a matter of opportunities. I tend to agree with him that the two – personal potential and opportunity – go together. Hence, for success providing opportunities and keeping access to these is vital.

This is the problem with any selection – there are so many intervening factors involved that looking only at potential (personal achievement at certain level) is misleading.

krantcents December 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm

i really enjoy reading Malcol Gladwell. Recognizing opportunities is probably characteristic of successful people. Do they actually receive more opportunities or do they just recognize them better? I think it is the latter! I think successful people gain more from success than others.

Maria@moneyprinciple December 20, 2011 at 11:59 am

My understanding is that opportunities surround us but to recognise them and take advantage we ought to have had opportunities to begin with. Gladwell’s example with Oppenheimer sticks out. He tried to poinson his supervisor and because of his cultural capital (opportunity as an excident of birth) managed to talk his way out of it.

krantcents December 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Our ability to recognize and take advantage of opportunities are limited by so many things. It can be money, intelligence,experience, willingness to take a risk and so much more. In some ways that why it appears like luck. There are a lot of factors that contribute to success!

Miss T December 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Great post. I am definitely a self motivated person and this has been huge when it comes to my success. Relying on others to motivate you is not going to work. You need to find that fire inside yourself. I also find setting goals important. It keeps you on track and keeps you motivated because once you reach one you end up with increased confidence to go after the next one. 

krantcents December 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm

One of the shortcomings of being self motivated is I keep pushing myself. As soon as i accomplish a goal, I replace it with another goal. It keeps me more focused

Jeffrey Trull December 19, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I was probably considered likely to succeed in high school (finished near the top of my class), but I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten there yet. I’ve taken a windy path since graduating, and it’s about to get even crazier. If we’re measuring success on happiness, I’d say I’m in great shape, though.

Couldn’t agree more with “Performing academically is just part of the success formula.” Some people never seem to accept this, even though those that had some of the more average grades in class have gone on to be the most successful. I think those that recognize that it’s not all about grades, degrees, and academic achievements first stand the best chance for finding real success.

krantcents December 19, 2011 at 8:41 pm

As a teacher, I love to say there is a strong connection between grades and success, but I cannot! It doesn’t mean that successful people cannot be academically successful though. There is much more to success than just academics.

The Jenny Pincher December 19, 2011 at 10:54 pm

I think the point you mention about setting goals is a huge factor in our success. Without goals, how can we measure how we are doing and get better?!

krantcents December 19, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Goal setting was 99% of how I achieved financial independence! It makes everything clear and keeps me focused on the goal. The other part was monitoring my progress and adjusting my effort to achieve my goals.

Cash Flow Mantra December 20, 2011 at 12:32 am

I also like Malcolm Gladwell.  You are right that humans are complex and determining likelihood of success can be difficult.  I don’t think it matters if you “were most likely to succeed” as your question asks.  I would ask “What are you doing to succeed today?”

krantcents December 20, 2011 at 3:24 am

Good point! I believe anyone can succeed given they want to badly enough to do what is necessary.

Andrea December 20, 2011 at 5:10 am

I was never voted most likely to be anything. I’ve always said I wanted to have my own business and I’ve done just that. Today, many people that a know me think I am quite fortunate, by my standards however I am so far behind where I could have been already. Long road to go yet.

krantcents December 20, 2011 at 5:18 am

Many, if not most self motivated people suffer from high expectations! It drives us to do tremendous things. Keep setting goals and you will accomplish them. Good luck.

My University Money December 20, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Awesome article KC!  As a teacher, my favourite part was, “Use school as your personal laboratory to investigate everything and learn how to use the information to prepare yourself for your future.  Have your teachers and adults help you achieve success.”  Kids have to start looking at what to take out of school, because we just aren’t equipped right now to give them everything they want for their specific career.

I think the best predictor of future success is simply pure passion for something, and determination to a degree that is unusual.  It can be sports, music, creative writing, art, it doesn’t matter, if someone shows me this in high school, I give them pretty good odds of being successful in one field or another as they get older.  Certainly this will often manifest itself in good grades as well, but the two are definitely not synonymous as you’ve pointed out.  I believe I was runner-up for the award… oh, and the guy that won it went on a missionary trip out of high school, met a Danish girl who he subsequently married, got an all expenses-paid engineering scholarship, and now has a 6 figure job and beautiful family… guess my tiny rural class did ok! 

krantcents December 20, 2011 at 4:24 pm

The most successful guy in my senior class was voted ladies man! He is a billionaire, go figure! He is on his third wife though.

Way Rich December 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I was not voted most likely anything.  That is okay….. I went to a large High school and if you were not in with THE IN CROWD… you were basically unnoticed.  I wish I not be so lax in attending high school ( I was a bit of a skipper) maybe things would have been different.  Or maybe I skipped because things were NOT different. 

krantcents December 20, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Some people peaked in high school and others just experienced it. What are you doing now to achieve success?

Way Rich December 27, 2011 at 11:38 pm

I am focusing on building a part time Virtual Assistant business. This will supplement our family income while we are caregivers for my parents. After that, back to my career as a sonographer.

krantcents December 28, 2011 at 12:03 am

Good for you. Successful people keep trying to succeed no matter what.

Roshawn @ Watson Inc December 20, 2011 at 8:56 pm

The definition of success is highly variable. There are some people who look at a salary while others look at simply living. People have different starting points, and just because two people are at the same point in life does not provide any context for the journeys that each of them took.

krantcents December 20, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Success can just mean completing or achieving a goal! We tend to measure success in terms of money, but it is not necessary. Everybody starts out differently whether education, resources or abilities, we measure success differently too.

Financial God December 21, 2011 at 3:22 am

All depends on how you define success. Regardless of what people voted you for, only you have the power to carry out your destiny.

krantcents December 21, 2011 at 3:26 am

In this age of group think, social media and Facebook friends, it is still up to the individual to succeed! December 21, 2011 at 4:34 am

Smarts and awards are nice, but to me there is one word that defines success:  ”effort”.  If you put forth the effort day in and day out, you will get what you want.   The best things in life are… earned!

krantcents December 21, 2011 at 5:45 am

My one word is “determination”. Success is achieving your goal. Whoever is most determined will win!

Buck Inspire December 26, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Awesome post KC!  I was second place in a most likely to succeed vote.  I tipped the scale because I voted for the first place guy!  I believe the final count was 1 or 2 votes.  Things are looking up now as I my passion and self confidence are higher than ever before.  Inspiring post, thank you!

krantcents December 26, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Self esteem and confidence are 95% of it. The rest is putting together a plan and executing it. All the best for 2012.

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