How to be successful in life

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

I’m sorry if the photo is misleading but I did that on purpose. If you agreed with the photo, maybe it’s time to reconsider your long-time held view.

A lot of people have been misled with the idea that if they will just “follow their passion”, they will “succeed in life”. Is that really the case?

Passion is not everything.

I’m sorry but there you go. I’m sure it wasn’t just passion that led you where you are now.

If you will think of all the successful people who lived and still do, you will find that it wasn’t just passion that led them where they are. If so, what did?

Let’s begin by understanding passion.

Passion is defined as a strong emotion. And like any other emotion, there can be times that you won’t just feel it. So if it’s the only thing you rely on, are you just going to quit something worth pursuing, when you feel that passion is not there anymore?

Via So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love:
Compelling careers often have complex origins that reject the simple idea that all you have to do is follow your passion.

I rather see passion as a part of the whole but it’s not everything. Certainly, it wasn’t just passion that made people successful. And if that’s the case, what else do you need to move forward in life?

What are the things that you should have to open opportunities and be ready for them when they come?


1. Knowledge.

Knowledge is defined as the sum of what is known; the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind*. It’s so important because it acts as a foundation of what you believe and do.

With knowledge you gain strength.

A wise man is strong, and a man of knowledge strengthens his power;
Proverbs 24:5 AMP

Knowledge also brings you success and prosperity.

And by knowledge its rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
Proverbs 24:4 AMP

Note that passion alone will never bring you to where you’re supposed to be. Only when you have the knowledge, together with passion, will you find success.

Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge,
And he who hurries with his feet [acting impulsively and proceeding without caution or analyzing the consequences] sins (misses the mark).
Proverbs 19:2 AMP

You must also know that knowledge is something you should seek.

The mind of the prudent [always] acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise [always] seeks knowledge.
Proverbs 18:15 AMP

And only the ones who seek for it will find it.

The mind of the intelligent and discerning seeks knowledge and eagerly inquires after it, but the mouth of the [stubborn] fool feeds on foolishness.
Proverbs 15:14 AMP

So if you want to achieve success, never stop learning. Never wander from knowledge but be a student all your life.

Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.
Proverbs 23:12 ESV

You might tell me to practice what I preach. If you are interested enough to know if I do what I say, then allow me to share how I never stop learning.

These are the things I’ve been up to:

  • I enroll in online courses about topics related to my career and growth (since 2017 while taking my masters). As of date (upon the time of writing), I already completed five online courses. Right now, I am currently enrolled to a data analytics course funded by the Philippine government.
  • I listen to podcasts about topics that keep me relevant both technically and spiritually. As of date (upon the time of writing), I am regularly following through four podcast shows.
  • I read my Bible every day for a year. As of date (upon the time of writing), I am now on my third Bible in one year.
  • I keep reading books and see to it that I read a minimum of 24 books in a year (a habit I’ve started since 2016). As of date (upon the time of writing), I have read 226 books. Here’s a snippet from the reading challenge I participate in every year since 2016.

2. Skill.

Skill is defined as the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance*. Skill is what you can offer to do. It’s one thing when you can perfect a whole theory in your mind; another when you can actually execute it, to prove that it works.

You increase your skills by honing them. And as you keep honing them, you become better and better at what you do. As your skills improve, the size of opportunities ahead of you also increases.

Do you see a man skillful and experienced in his work? He will stand [in honor] before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.
Proverbs 22:29 AMP

Sometimes, opportunities come and when you’re not ready for them, you will surely miss them. Other times, you can create them. Either way, being skillful gives you an advantage.

How to hone your skills? By deliberate practice.

If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength; but wisdom [to sharpen the axe] helps him succeed [with less effort].
Ecclesiastes 10:10 AMP

So why deliberate practice?

Via So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love:
The good news about deliberate practice is that it will push you past this plateau and into a realm where you have little competition.

And do you know that you lose what you don’t use? So if you want to be better at something, pour time and effort to sharpen yourself in that area. You can never just rely on passion to bring you success. Instead, use your passion to develop your skills.

3. Ability.

Ability is defined as the quality or state of being able; physical, mental, or legal power to do something*. When you were just a kid, you used to do work a kid can manage. Now that you are an adult, there are things you can do which you shouldn’t expect a child can do. Why? Because the level of difficulty has increased. This can also be said with ability. Some are more able to perform specific tasks than others. In this regard, your ability also allows you to access different kinds of opportunities.

“For it is just like a man who was about to take a journey, and he called his servants together and entrusted them with his possessions. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and then he went on his journey. The one who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he [made a profit and] gained five more. Likewise the one who had two [made a profit and] gained two more. But the one who had received the one went and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
Matthew 25:14-18 AMP

From the passage, those who are more able are given more opportunities to become more. Know that true leaders only delegate responsibilities to those who are able. If you have been looking forward to that promotion at work, you better be ready to have the ability required for that promotion.

How to have more opportunities in life? Check this post from a series I wrote about why some people have more in life and others don’t.

4. Competence.

Competence is defined as the quality or state of having sufficient knowledge, judgment, skill, or strength (as for a particular duty or in a particular respect)*. A competent person is someone who knows how to make use of his knowledge, skill, and ability.

According to a competency specialist:

Competency = Knowledge + Skill + Ability

Truly, successful people exemplify competence. Not only do they know what to do in different kinds of situation they are in, but they also know how to apply their knowledge, skill, and ability.

Furthermore, you shall select from all the people competent men who [reverently] fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; you shall place these over the people as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.
Exodus 18:21 AMP

If you strive to become competent, you allow yourself to move towards success. Once you achieve a level of competency, you will find yourself in leadership positions and be in charge of people (be it of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens).

Do you see any truly competent workers? They will serve kings rather than working for ordinary people.
Proverbs 22:29 NLT

Not only that, competent people, because of their competence, are destined to do extraordinary work for extraordinary people.

Like what you’re reading? Never miss any new post via email!

Join 204 other followers

5. Hard work.

From my previous blog post, I explained why hard work is important to get ahead in life. A hardworking person is someone who is constantly, regularly, or habitually engaged in earnest and energetic work*. So if you want to do hard work, you must be diligent and put the effort into everything you do. Know that hard work precedes passion and not the other way around.

Via So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love:
Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.

People who are successful in life don’t just work hard. They also work smart. Watch this video to learn more about working hard vs working smart.

I recommend that you read the book by Cal Newport about the importance of not just doing hard work but deep work. After I read the book, I realized that we’re so distracted every day, more than we admit. And that only when we understand how to do deep work will we truly find satisfaction in what we’re doing.

6. Motivation.

Motivation is defined as a motivating force, stimulus, or influence*. It is derived from the word motive which is something (such as a need or desire) that causes a person to act*.

So what drives you to do what you’re doing? What motivates you to move forward and seek success in life? If you make your motivation clear, it would be easier for you to identify the things that matter in your life, things you should be spending time with.

Via Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.

Who do you live for?

I recommend that you read the book by Daniel Pink which talks about the things that really motivate us as humans. Reading the book helped me put words for the desires that drive me to make the most of my short life. I also believe that all those things are found in knowing our Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Because in everything we do in this life, God called us to excellence.

For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has bestowed on us His precious and magnificent promises [of inexpressible value], so that by them you may escape from the immoral freedom that is in the world because of disreputable desire, and become sharers of the divine nature.
2 Peter 1:3-4 AMP

In this sense, you should be motivated to do excellence in everything you set your heart to do. There is success in excellence too.

7. Habit.

Habit is defined as a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance*.

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

Jim Rohn

How can your habits help you achieve success? By putting you into a routine and automatic responses. Not only will you save time but through building a habit you can now focus on the things that need more of your attention.

Via The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business
“‘Champions don’t do extraordinary things,’ Dungy would explain. ‘They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.’

What you usually do with your day reflects your habits. You do what you do because they’re things you decided to be important until you do them without thinking anymore. Do you know that successful people are a creature of habit?

Via The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business
Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits.

So if you build the right habits to become successful, you are on your way to become the person you wanted to be.

Via The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business
the key to victory was creating the right routines.

I recommend that you read the book Charles Duhigg wrote about habits. Learn why you have them (both good and bad habits) and how habits can help you become better and successful in life. The book changed the way I think about habits and I hope it can change yours too.

8. Commitment.

Commitment is defined as the state of being obligated or emotionally urged or driven forward*. If you are committed to producing excellent output every time, you know not only how to be responsible with everything entrusted to you but also to be accountable to all the people around you (be it your colleague, boss, or family).

Commitment is important in achieving success because you need to be committed to doing all the things required for you to achieve your goal. Success is never a downward-spiral event. You always push forward towards your goal no matter the circumstance you’re in.

If married people are committed to each other, you can say that they have a successful marriage. The same goes for everything you want to be successful with. Be committed.

9. Self-control.

Self-control is defined as a restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires*. Why you need this in achieving success? Because you need to restrain yourself from doing things that do not contribute to making you successful. There are just things you need to give up in order to move forward.

Via The Power Of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business
Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not.… Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent.

Instead of binge-watching your favorite series, you choose to catch up with your studies for tomorrow’s exam. Instead of taking an untimely vacation, you choose to focus and pour your time to finish your work project. Instead of having the wrong attitude against your bosses when they become so demanding during a deadline, you choose to respect them and understand where they are coming.

You’re always a right choice away from success.

10. Perseverance.

Perseverance is defined as the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition*. It’s an attitude you must adopt especially when you feel that whatever you do doesn’t seem to move you forward.

Via The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit
Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment.

If you feel like you are in a slug, perseverance will help you see beyond your situation and propel you to continue moving towards your goal.

Via The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit
Persistent people are able to visualize the idea of light at the end of the tunnel when others can’t see it.

I have written a blog post about knowing when to quit (and when to press ahead) and I hope that it will encourage you to persevere especially when what you’re doing is worth pursuing.

But wait… here’s one more thing you also need to achieve success, something you should acknowledge:

11. The Grace of God.

Grace is defined as unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification*. As you read this, I wish to tell you more about the Lord Jesus Christ. If you decide to follow his ways, you will never live a mediocre life again.

What I have learned in the years I have lived is this: even if you’ve done all the things I mentioned above in order to achieve success, there are just some things beyond your control. And this is where the grace of God works on your behalf. God’s grace is the unseen helping hand that allows you to be successful in everything you do.

Because of God’s grace, you achieve success in everything you do.

Ezra had left Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, because God was helping him.
Ezra 7:9 NCV

Because of God’s grace, you meet certain people at the right place and time. They are the ones who help you achieve success in life.

Our God was helping us, so Iddo’s relatives gave us Sherebiah, a wise man from the descendants of Mahli son of Levi, who was the son of Israel. And they brought Sherebiah’s sons and brothers, for a total of eighteen men.
Ezra 8:18 NCV

Think about all the people you’ve met in this lifetime. There’s no doubt that every one of them contributed to what you’ve become now.

Because of God’s grace, you also receive favor from people allowing you to achieve success in your plans.

and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, so that he will give me timber to construct beams for the gates of the fortress which is by the temple, and for the city wall and for the house which I will occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.
Nehemiah 2:8 AMP


And that’s where this blog post ends. I hope you find the success you’re looking for.

If you’ve got questions, or if you just want to tell me something, I would like to hear from you.

Did this blog post help you see a new perspective in achieving success? If yes, share this to people you think who need to know about this. If you haven’t subscribed to this blog yet, press the appropriate button and never miss any new post!

Join 204 other followers

Let’s keep good ideas spreading!

Wrap Up

  1. Knowledge. Passion alone will never bring you to where you’re supposed to be. Only when you have the knowledge, together with passion, you will find success.
  2. Skill. You can never just rely on passion to bring you success. Instead, use your passion to develop your skills.
  3. Ability. Some are more able to perform specific tasks than others. In this regard, your ability also allows you to access different kinds of opportunities.
  4. Competence. If you strive to become competent, you allow yourself to move towards success. Once you achieve a level of competency, you will find yourself in leadership positions and be in charge of people (be it of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens).
  5. Hard work. Hard work precedes passion and not the other way around.
  6. Motivation. If you make your motivation clear, it would be easier for you to identify the things that matter in your life, things you should be spending time with.
  7. Habit. You do what you do because they’re things you decided to be important until you do them without thinking anymore. Do you know that successful people are a creature of habit?
  8. Commitment. Success is never a downward-spiral event. You always push forward towards your goal no matter the circumstance you’re in because you are committed.
  9. Self-control. You need to restrain yourself from doing things that do not contribute to making you successful. There are just things you need to give up in order to move forward.
  10. Perseverance. If you feel like you are in a slug, perseverance will help you see beyond your situation and propel you to continue moving towards your goal.
  11. The Grace of God. God’s grace is the unseen helping hand that allows you to be successful in everything you do.

Never miss any new post via email!

Join 204 other followers