8 Qualities to Cultivate to Make Success a Pattern, Not a "Moment" - Hope 103.2

8 Qualities to Cultivate to Make Success a Pattern, Not a “Moment”

Brian Harris shares top habits which can bring success and help us understand what it actually is.

By Brian HarrisThursday 19 Oct 2023LifestyleReading Time: 6 minutes

You’ve probably had those moments when you breath a sigh of both relief and satisfaction.

It’s come off.

Something you wanted has worked out, and you are really pleased.

Perhaps your response is, “Well, that was lucky. Hope it happens again.”

Once in a while, success is like winning the lottery, and things come through against all the odds.

But it is dangerous to build our lives on that model.

For the majority of successful people, achievement is a pattern, not a moment.

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There are reliable predictors of long-term success, and they have very little to do with luck.

They are qualities to be cultivated.

There is no point in being jealously covetous of the good fortune of others when you aren’t willing to put in the hard work and discipline they do.

Most successful people are able to tick all of these eight boxes.

There is no reason you can’t aim at ticking them as well…

1. Know where you want to go

As the adage goes: “Aim at nothing, and you are bound to hit it.”

Clarity of purpose and direction – or being guided by a compelling vision of what could be – is fundamental to success.

If you think about it, how else do you know if you have been successful?

There is a reason Paul informs us in 1 Corinthians 9:26 that he does “not run like someone running aimlessly.”

It isn’t to brag or boast.

It is to encourage us to do the same.

2. Adopt a growth rather than fixed mindset

I’ve written about this in another post but, essentially, people with a growth mindset know it takes a while for potential to come to fruition.

They are patient and kind as they challenge their performance over time.

They don’t assume we either can or can’t do things.

While they recognise we all pick up some things more quickly than others, they accept it’s normal to have to work at things to get better at them.

They are willing to try new things and to defer judgment about their ability at it until they have genuinely given it a wholehearted go.

As a result, their world expands.

When they attempt to do things, they bring a wider range of experiences to the table and are more likely to succeed.

People with a fixed mindset stick to safely repeating what they are able to do.

By not expanding their repertoire, they have little to offer other than yesterday’s dying song when the tide turns (as it inevitably does).

3. They view failure as an invitation to growth

Perhaps you have heard the story of the person asked the secret of their success.

“That’s easy,” they said. “Two words: Good decisions.”

“And how did you learn to make good decisions?”

“That’s easy,” the successful person replied. “Two words: Bad decisions.”

We make good decisions as a result of bad decisions we have made.

Ah, if only it was so easy, but the link isn’t automatic.

After a poor decision we can rationalise our choice, deny it was poor, blame others because it didn’t work, or we might even pretend it was actually a good decision that will strike gold for us some time in the future (as if…)

Alternatively, we can accept responsibility, dig into why it didn’t work, and give serious thought to how we will avoid the same mistake in the future.

We don’t have to be cruel or unkind as we do this – just genuinely committed to learning what we can from it.

4. They know and hold to their values

If we want success at any cost, we might find it at the expense of our soul.

Because every yes is also a no, we need clear values to guide us, and to provide direction when we face borderline decisions.

When values are in the optional basket, success tends to be short lived and, ultimately, to backfire.

What are your values?

In 1 Corinthians 13:13, the apostle Paul suggests there are three that will remain forever, “faith, hope and love” and “the greatest of these is love”.

Faith, hope and love.

A powerful trio that I try to shape my actions around.

5. Be willing to forgive and move on

Though it’s best not to get into a habit of blaming others when things go wrong, the reality is others do sometimes harm us.

Bitterness and cynicism can be an understandable response when others have left us to pick up the price tag that flows from their irresponsibility or selfishness.

But if we do, we set ourselves up for failure, because bitterness crushes the soul, destroys creativity and leaves us perpetually angry.

And the simple reality is most people are badly let down at one time or another.

Rather than rage against the unfairness of your lot, view it as a test.

Can you rise above it and be larger than your circumstances?

Yes you can and, when you do, success becomes a pattern rather than a fleeting moment.

6. Be outwardly tilted

Strangely, when it’s all about you, your world becomes too small.

Jesus was right (surely not a surprise!): When we are willing to lose our lives for others and for God’s work in the world, we most truly find ourselves.

If my success is all about me and what I got for me – well, it sounds a little too much like the man in Jesus’ parable in Luke 12:19.

This man congratulates himself on how wealthy he has become.

At that point, he hears God saying, “You fool, for this very night your life shall be required from you.”

It is not that we should never do anything for ourselves but “me, myself and I” make for far too tiny a world.

Looking outwards and seeing how what we can do to serve the greater good can become an instinct.

It also sets us up for success.

7. Have a large definition of success

If your definition of success is primarily around money, power, popularity or fame, your definition of success is too small.

You are successful if you are living a life worthy of your humanity –a life worth living.

Made in the image of God, every human has to answer the question of how we respond to God’s invitation to reflect a little of what God is like, through how we live.

There are many, many ways to do this, and they often don’t lead to money or fame.

They may well lead to power – not the power to lord it over another, but the moral power that flows from living a life of integrity and kindness.

A life shaped by faith, hope and love.

8. Clean your own room first

This is a Jordan Peterson insight, and it’s an important one.

If you don’t have the discipline and self-respect to look after yourself, why is anyone going to listen to you or pay attention to what you say?

This reflects Confucius who said: “To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”

Setting our own heart right is an important start.

Of course, this can sound a little like pulling yourself up by your own shoelaces.

I am so grateful that the Christian faith revolves around grace.

Actually, I can’t adequately clean my own room.

But I am grateful for Calvary and the Cross of Jesus – that place where I find forgiveness and a new start.

Because of Jesus, I can embrace life with an unqualified “Yes”.

I can allow faith, hope and love to form me – and that’s a trio that ensures success, even if poverty and obscurity are my lot.


Article supplied with thanks to Brian Harris.

About the Author: Brian is a speaker, teacher, leader, writer, author and respected theologian who is founding director of the AVENIR Leadership Institute, fostering leaders who will make a positive impact on the world.

Feature image: Photo by Josh Duke on Unsplash