Chasing Success and Catching It

A high Q-Factor + 12 other traits that propel you to the top

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

Wealth, genius, youth, and status aren’t required.

But you do need a high Q-Factor.

A scientist named Albert-Laszlo Barabasi explains it this way:

A Q-factor is your ability to take an idea and make it successful. In mathematical terms it might look something like this:


It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Lots of people have had great ideas, but they don’t have the skill to propel the idea skyward to success. A fantastic idea without the skill to push it to completion fizzles on the vine.

Great Idea + Poor Execution = mediocrity

Similarly, no matter how skilled a person is, they can’t take a mediocre idea and push it to greatness.

Poor Idea + Great Execution = mediocrity

What is skill?

“Skill” might include raw talent or vast knowledge in their field, but it also might include intangible traits like the ability to communicate with others or the willingness to keep going in the face of adversity.

If you have ideas and skill, you have a high Q factor.

Studies have shown that a high Q factor + persistence = long term success.

Money has little to do with success. Neither does genius, age, or prestige.

Intangible, inborn personality traits have more to do with success than anything else.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

12 traits you need to be successful (along with a high Q-Factor: )

  1. Vision: Know what you want and how you’re going to get it. Write down your vision of success with a list of actions you’ll take to make it happen.
  2. Drive: Energy, enthusiasm, and focus combine into “drive:” an innate, biologically determined urge to attain a goal or satisfy a need.”
  3. Authenticity: This is the “real you.” The unique, interesting, warts-and-all person who is going after what you want and not what other people think you should strive for. To quote Hamlet: “To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
  4. Persistence: There’s a difference between being discouraged and giving up. Successful people are persistent. They keep going no matter what. They know that the only way to fail is to quit trying.
  5. Intensity: Make each day count. I once knew a woman with a brain tumor. Her motto was not to live each day as if it were her last but to live each day as if it were her ONLY day. (Changes your perspective entirely, doesn’t it?)
  6. Thirst for knowledge: Never stop learning. The more you know, the better you’ll be. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
  7. Willingness to practice your craft: If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, you know about the 10,000-hour rule. This theory suggests that “deliberate practice” is needed and that “10,000 hours is the magic number of greatness.” You have to be willing to practice that much. But one new study has debunked some of what Gladwell says. Turns out, practice creates only a 12% variation in achievement. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to practice. It just means that even with deliberate practice, there may be other factors that influence your success.
  8. Patience: Success does not usually come overnight. Be in it for the long-haul, moving step by step to your goal. Don’t expect instant gratification. Most “success” comes from building a body of work, not a single project. (Think of Thomas Edison. William Shakespeare. Ben Franklin.)
  9. Productivity: You have to keep coming up with new ideas and new projects over and over. “Successful people engage in project after project after project. They don’t just count their winnings; they buy more lottery tickets. They keep producing.”
  10. Integrity: Build trust. Be reliable. Say what you’re going to do. When people can count on your word, they will believe in your work.
  11. Self-Confidence: You have to believe in yourself because if you don’t, no one else will. Square your shoulders. Look ’em in the eye. Show no fear.
  12. Optimism: Even with setbacks, you still believe that you will make it. Faith in the future works wonders.
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Success is an exotic elixir. Personality, traits, intelligence, genetics, drive, and persistence add to the mix. Blend in a little ingenuity, self-reliance, and competition and drink in the heady foam.) No guarantees exist, but the chance of achieving success increases with the number of traits you pour into the brew.

Melissa Gouty is persistent (not stubborn,) strong-willed (not pushy), and is patient (sort-of) in pursuing her long-term goal of success in the writing world.

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Writer, teacher, speaker, and observer of human nature. Creative content for the literary world. Follow me at, Twitter, or Facebook.

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