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20 Secrets of Success


Throughout history, many people have laid claim to the “secret” of success. Below, I share with you 20 such revelations of the many that I have heard over the years. Some of these “secrets” were stated by men and women of great prominence; others were uttered by less celebrated individuals, but equally wise. In any case, what matters is not the names behind the sayings, but the wisdom brought forth by them. Pondering the success “secrets” of master achievers is a terrific mental exercise for developing a winning mindset. And, doing so will help you discover your own “secret” of success. Once you make this vital discovery, you will then have complete control over your own fate.

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Thomas Edison, John Burroughs, and Henry Ford.

Three titans of success: Thomas Edison, John Burroughs, and Henry Ford.

The Secret to Success Is…

  1. The secret of success in business is doing common things uncommonly well.
  2. The grand secret of success is that successful people take on hundred times the trouble than other people do.
  3. The secret of success is sticking to it.
  4. The secret of success is not only to do it, but do it successfully.
  5. Keeping fit is the secret of success.
  6. Attention to detail is the secret of success in every sphere of life.
  7. The secret of success isn’t so much in knowing how to make money as in the ability to hang onto it.
  8. The secret of success is not a secret. Nor is it something new. Nor is it something hard to secure. To become more successful, become more efficient and do little things better.
  9. The faculty of keeping friends is the secret of success.
  10. The great secret of success in life is to be ready when opportunity comes.
  11. The secret of success is the love of the business; without it the incessant drudgery and persistent labor destroy all ambition.
  12. The great secret of success, true success, is to get away from the butterfly pursuits of life and devote yourself to doing good to those around you.
  13. The secret of success is to be the fellow your wife [or husband] could have married if it hadn’t been you.
  14. Specialization is the secret of success in every field of endeavor.
  15. The secret of success is this: Cooperate.
  16. The secret of success is constancy of purpose.
  17. There has been altogether too much talk about the secret of success. Success has no secret. Her voice is forever ringing through the market place and crying in the wilderness, and the burden of her cry is one word — will. Any normal young man [person] who hears and heeds that cry is equipped fully to climb to the very heights of life.
  18. The secret of success is a simple matter of honest work, ability and concentration. There is no question about there being room at the top for exceptional men [or women] in any profession. Your problem is how to get there. The answer is simple: Conduct business with just a little more ability than the average man [or woman] in your line. If you are only above the average man [or woman] your success is secured, and the degree of success is the ratio to the greater degree of ability and attention which you give above the average.
  19. The secret of success is in oneself, not in ‘pulls’, outside influence, or capital. This is one of the reasons that the poor young man and young woman who find themselves utterly dependent upon their own effort are largely the ones who win out in life, because their very lacks drive them into themselves as their only chance.
  20. The secret of success is to always consider that the boss is right, even when he is wrong.

Sarah G. Blanding – A Leader of Life

A few years ago I read a rather lengthy book about the history of the Kentucky Wildcats basketball program. It is a well written work with a lot of interesting information, but I was disappointed when I saw that the author made no mention of Sarah G. Blanding, perhaps Kentucky’s first basketball superstar. So, today I thought it would be a good idea to pay tribute to her, both for her contributions as an athlete and as an educator.

Born on a Kentucky farm in 1898, Sarah G. Blanding grew up a hard worker with both athletic and academic ambitions. After graduating from the New Haven School of Gymnastics in 1919, she accepted a job at the University of Kentucky as a physical education instructor. She also enrolled in an undergraduate program at the start of her new position.

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Sarah Blanding and friend standing on the steps in front of a building.

Sarah G. Blanding (right) with friend, circa 1921. Photograph obtained from The Special Collections Research Center At UK Libraries.

At Kentucky, Blanding became captain of the women’s basketball team, and she was also the Kittennettes best player. Referring to her athletic skill on the court, a writer in the Kentuckian stated, “Sarah seems to have a monopoly on the baskets.”

During her years at the University of Kentucky, Blanding was just as active off of the basketball court as she was on it. In addition to majoring in political science and international relationships, the sports star became president of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority chapter. Blanding had stated during in an interview later in her life that, as president of Kappa Kappa Gamma, one of her biggest accomplishments was helping to get a minority member accepted into the chapter. Today, maybe this would not be news. However, in the early 1920s racial discrimination was common place in the Bluegrass State, and what Blanding did took initiative, courage, leadership, and a lot of persuasion.

After obtaining an undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky, Blanding attended graduate school at Columbia University. She also engaged in additional studies at the London School of Economics. In 1929, she was awarded a master’s degree in political science from Columbia, and subsequently Blanding was appointed Dean of Women and professor of political science at the University of Kentucky, positions she would hold for 12 years.

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Sarah Blanding with her Kittennettes basketball team.

The 1921 Kittennettes and Coach Sarah Blanding (back row). Photograph obtained from The Special Collections Research Center At UK Libraries.

Blanding left Kentucky in 1941 to become first dean of the College of Home Economics at Cornell University. Five years later, the former basketball star was named the president of Vassar College, and for many years she did much work to advance the school’s academic curriculum and quality of student life. One key to her enormous success at Vassar College was that she respected people and encouraged independent thinking. Reflecting upon her remarkable career, Blanding once noted, “I like all kinds of people. I get along well with them because I trust them. I make it plain to everyone on my staff that I want them to stand up and fight for their own ideas. If they have better arguments, they win.”

Hard Work or Innate Ability – Which Rules?

A short while back I sent the following inquiry to a renowned physicist and professor at a very prestigious university:

“I have a question of which I hope you can share your opinion. Can a person with an average IQ become a great physicist if he or she works consistently hard at learning, or is the mastery of high-end physics beyond the reach of the ordinary student?”

Graciously, the professor took some time out of his busy schedule to respond to my question, and his answer was both thoughtful and insightful. Here is what he had to say:

“I would say that 99% of being a good physicist, like anything else, is hard work. You could get to the highest levels, even winning the Nobel prize, through hard work, networking, and of course a great deal of knowledge and intelligence, but not necessarily an innate ability. However, fundamental theoretical physics is now so advanced that to follow it you have to be able keep a lot of variables and summation indices in your head, and you have to be able to have insights about them. I find that very hard to do, and I might concede that in that case there is some ‘IQ’ or innate cognitive ability that is critical.”

As you can see, the professor expressed his opinion that 99% of all achievement comes from hard work. Said another way, it is within the reach of the average person to go extraordinarily far in any endeavor if he or she is willing to put forth consistent effort. Key to success is to make targeted and practical goals, stick to them, and work with concentrated focus every day to reach them. Above all, believe in yourself. As the late Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

Behind All Great Successes

“In all great successes we can trace the power of concentration, riveting every faculty upon one unwavering aim; perseverance in the pursuit of an undertaking in spite of every difficulty; and courage which enables one to bear up under all trials, disappointments, and temptations.”

These powerful words were uttered by Orison Swett Marden over 100 years ago. They are as true today as they were back then. Memorize them — live by them — and your success will be virtually unlimited.

Get Excited and Succeed

“To be stimulated to break through mental barriers, and to perform at consistently higher levels, some unusual stimulus must fill you with emotional excitement or some idea of necessity must induce you to make the extra effort of will.”

— Mike Mentzer

Successful People Understand This Well

“The role of chance, accident, and tradition in an individual’s life stands in inverse ratio to the power of his philosophical equipment.”

— Ayn Rand

Do; Don’t Talk

Back in 1919, a woman named Sarah Grand offered some really sound success advice. She said,

“Just do a thing and don’t talk about it. This is the great secret of success in all enterprises. Talk means discussion; discussion means irritation; irritation means opposition, and opposition means hindrance always whether you are right or wrong.”

Take it from Ms. Grand — speak less and work more. Its results which count, not endless talk about what you plan to do.

From the Bridge to Strength Dictionary


(1) the first requisite of success; (2) overcoming fear, negative opinion, or discouragement; (3) making things happen rather than waiting for things to happen; (4) opening the door to freedom, advancement, and self-fulfillment; (5) the commencement of “good luck”.


(1) the number one cause of human failure; (2) forever lost opportunity; (3) an insidious path of self-destruction; (4) a bad habit that robs the soul of vital energy; (5) time thrown down the drain; (6) the act of succumbing to one’s fears; (7) a leading cause of regret, despondency, self-doubt, and despair.


(1) the second requisite of success; (2) a continual search to find or invent a better way to get a job done; (3) ongoing ambition to surpass where you have been; (4) learning from your mistakes and progressing ahead; (5) enjoying the process rather than merely seeking a means to an end; (6) doing what you love to do.