We are all failures—at least the best of us are.” J.M. Barrie

What makes successful men and women excel? Why do some people achieve wealth while others languish in poverty?

You know what I’m talking about. It can be called luck, blessing, or the ability to turn everything into gold—it’s up to you. But in reality, there are people who manage to accomplish extraordinary things despite huge obstacles. They rank among the top sellers in their company nationwide after losing major clients.

Indeed, they find ingenious ways to increase profits despite budget cuts. They earn a college degree while raising two children without the help of a spouse. They spot extraordinary business opportunities when their colleagues see none. Or they repeatedly recruit valuable employees despite a seemingly unpromising work environment, regardless of their field of activity. And wherever they are, it simply looks like they are the ones pulling the strings.

It’s undeniable that each of us likes to think we’re above average. But successful men and women leave the “average” person far behind, a silhouette fading behind a curtain of dust and quickly forgotten.


Where does the gap lie? Why do some people succeed so well? Is it because of:

Their family background? You might be grateful for growing up in a good family, but that’s not a guarantee of success. A high percentage of successful people come from broken families.

Their wealth? No, some of the most successful people come from families with average or below-average budgets. Wealth is not an indicator of success, and poverty does not mean mediocre achievements.

Better opportunities? You know, opportunities are a peculiar thing. Faced with the same situation, one of two people with similar gifts, talents, and resources will see an extraordinary opportunity, while the other won’t see anything at all. Opportunity lies in the eye of the beholder.

Great morals? I wish that were the case, but it’s not. I’ve known very upright people who have accomplished little in their lives. And I’ve known scoundrels who have succeeded brilliantly. Haven’t you?

A pampered childhood? For every person spared tragedy, there’s a Helen Keller who overcame severe disability or a Viktor Frankl who survived absolute horror. Really, we’re not there yet. No, none of these factors constitute an explanation.

In the end, I only know one factor that differentiates those who consistently shine from those who stagnate in mediocrity: what sets average people apart from successful ones is their perception of failure and how they react to it. Nothing influences as much…

This text is an excerpt from the book “Overcoming Adversity: How to Use Your Mistakes as a Springboard to Success” written by John C. Maxwell.

We invite you to read the following article “What You Never Learned in School.

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