The Ultimate Guide to the Psychology of Success

I’ve spent more than a decade closely studying successful people to understand how they’ve achieved success and how I can set myself up to be successful.

This is what I wish someone would’ve shared with me.

Most Important Lesson: The best way to learn something new is by studying the best

If you want to be as good at basketball as Kobe, study Kobe. If you want to be successful, study successful people.

This is a simple principle but most people don’t maniacally study the leaders in whatever field they’re interested in.

I learned a lot more by listening to successful people talk about how they became successful than I did in any college business classes.

Second Most Important Lesson: There aren’t any rules but there are some best practices

Everyone is biased by their own personal experiences.

Some say: “Follow your passion!” Some say: “Don’t follow your passion!” Who’s right and who’s wrong? That’s a matter of opinion.

It’s important to accept that while there are suggested paths and best practices, there aren’t any hard and fast rules with success or life. And ultimately, you have to figure out what’s best for you.

The best learning resource to understand the psychology of success

Go to Evan Carmichael’s YouTube channel and search “10 Rules For Success.” His channel is the best resource that I’ve ever come across because he has aggregated the best success learnings from all of the most successful people in the world.

Every video is a 10-20 minute highlight reel of a successful person explaining how they view success.

You can read books, listen to podcasts, and watch long-form talks (and you should!) but Evan’s content is the fastest shortcut to quickly understanding the principles of success.

Here’s an example:

And here are some of my favorite videos from Evan’s channel:

  1. Steve Jobs’s 10 Rules of Success (40 Mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHzAtxW3TzY
  2. Oprah Winfrey’s 10 Rules of Success (11 Mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a8ncSBU-Eg
  3. Arianna Huffington’s 10 Rules of Success (14 Mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vWmVoL8tTc
  4. Sara Blakely’s 10 Rules of Success (Spanx Founder)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vssrx7G-94w&ab_channel=Top10RulesForSuccess%2FEvanCarmichael
  5. Marie Forleo’s 10 Rules of Success (Bestselling Advice Author) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pljd0euzXiY
  6. Elon Musk’s 10 Rules of Success (7 Mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX7I_Rw8Q0I
  7. Jeff Bezos’s 10 Rules of Success (9 Mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAdjNuE6EZQ
  8. Bill Gates’s 10 Rules of Success (13 Mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq-gba5nMrc
  9. Warren Buffet’s 10 Rules of Success (9 Mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEgu6p_frmE
  10. Gary V’s 10 Rules of Success (25 Mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vqJrJ8cxEQ
  11. Beyonce’s 10 Rules of Success (9 Mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC79HWP6IXY
  12. Anna Wintour’s 10 Rules of Success (10 Mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MW-hPH1OLM
  13. Brene Brown’s 10 Rules of Success (38 Mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDS5bqvOlhc
  14. Mark Cuban’s 10 Rules of Success (10 Mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRMybKaNSus
  15. Rachel Hollis 10 Rules of Success (Bestselling self-help author) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGGOBCJrlfg
  16. Steve Jobs secrets of life (2 mins) https://youtu.be/kYfNvmF0Bqw
  17. Gabby Bernstein’s 10 Rules of Success (Bestselling self-help/spirituality author) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6UHbCpk_EI
  18. Michelle Obama’s 10 Rules of Success https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdePbLi8-ao
  19. Rihanna’s 10 Rules of Success https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMlLvtxHagg
  20. Jennifer Lopez 10 Rules of Success https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uhm_WKOuVQ

My biggest takeaways from a decade of studying success (specifically personal success, not company success)

These are all of my best learnings, jam-packed into a short post.

1. You don’t have to be the smartest person, but you do have to work your ass off

Some successful people are truly brilliant (i.e. Elon Musk and Steve Jobs) but there are a lot of people who admit they aren’t the brightest but that they’ve worked their asses off (Will Smith, Dana White, and Mark Cuban are examples).

“If other people are working 40 hour work weeks and you’re working 100 hour work weeks, you’ll achieve in 4 months what it takes them to achieve in four years.” –Elon Musk

2. You have to be relentless

A lot of the most successful people in the world struggled in some capacity early in life. Why? To be very successful, you have to push through extraordinarily difficult times and if you’ve already learned to overcome challenges then you have a headstart.

3. Surround yourself with and work with success-oriented people

Our minds are echo chambers of the information that we feed into them. If you want to be successful, then surround yourself and work with successful people.

4. Successful mentors can help you on your path

Similar to the concept of surrounding yourself with success, if you assemble a group of mentors who have achieved what you want to achieve, they can help guide you where you want to go.

5. You must take risks and carve a unique path in life

To be ultra-successful, you have to take bold risks and you’re best off living a different life than the average person. Why? Because if you live a different life than you’ll have a unique vantage point and you’ll spot opportunities that others don’t see.

6. You must have a growth mindset

The idea of a growth mindset (read more here) is that while everyone is born with different baseline skill levels you can control how good you become at anything. The core belief is that effort=results=improvement.

7. Act with urgency and do things that you love!

Life is short and opportunity windows are short. If you want to do something special in this life then you have to operate as if the clock is ticking (because it is!).

Two Additional Must-Read Resources:

  1. How To Get Rich by Naval Ravikant (3.5 hours) – Naval Ravikal is the CEO and co-founder of AngelList. He’s one of the most famous angel investors and has invested 100+ companies including Uber and Twitter. This resource is a must read.
  2. How To Be Successful by Sam Altman (15 mins) – Sam Altman used to run Y Combinator, the most successful startup accelerator in the world (helped launch Instacart, DoorDash, Dropbox, Airbnb, Reddit and tons of other companies).

Final Thoughts:

Get out there and kick some ass! I hope this is helpful to you. If you want to discuss this further, click the chat button in the bottom right corner of your screen!

Related: The Four Videos That Inspired Me To Start Businesses While Traveling The World and The Two Best Resources if You’re Looking To Improve Your Life

Cam Woodsum
I've been building digital businesses, wandering the world, and writing about optimizing life for freedom since early 2017. My mission is to lower the barrier for people who want to live with more freedom: whether that be as an entrepreneur, a digital nomad, an early retiree, or just as someone who wants to live a happiness-driven life.