I’ve mentioned several times that success is not easy. There is a price you have to pay for success. You need to find this price and then commit to paying it.

Very few people come into success by chance. It takes time, commitment, discipline and determination to succeed at anything. This process simply starts with making a decision to be successful in your goal, no matter what.

In this post, I’ve answered 4 questions about success:

  1. What makes people successful?
  2. Do you need any special qualifications to succeed?
  3. What is the actual price of success?
  4. How can you get started today?
This is a long post so you may want to print it or bookmark to read later.

What makes people successful?

When we see successful people, most of us don’t get to see the process it took them to get to the level they are at now.

Anyone who’s had to climb the ladder to success in any area will tell you a few things about their journey to success:

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  • It took time to get to where they are today.
  • They made a commitment to stick by the process to the end.
  • Sometimes they weren’t even aware that they had made this commitment at a subconscious level.
  • They had to be disciplined or learn how to be disciplined.
  • They were focused on their goals (tunnel vision).
  • Sometimes, it was very lonely as their families and peers didn’t understand them.
  • All this was backed by a strong determination to succeed.


“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison

Do you need any special qualifications to succeed?

Challenge Yourself Note Means Be Determined And Motivated by Stuart MilesIn the book The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explains that it takes 10,000 hours for you to become an expert.

While there has been a lot of criticism levied against Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule, we do know from observation that it takes time and dedicated practice before someone can become successful.

A lot of people think that what is required for success is formal training, but this is not necessarily the case.

Napoleon Hill in the book Think and Grow Rich and Wallace Wattles in his book The Science of Getting Rich are both very clear on the fact that education and certificates do not make someone successful. Robert Kiyosaki takes a similar stand in his Rich Dad, Poor Dad series of books.

Also, we need to look no further than the millionaires and billionaires who are coming up daily. They come from such diverse backgrounds that you cannot put a label on them.

In reference to financial success, Wallace Wattles notes that:

“…Talented people get rich and blockheads get rich; intellectually brilliant people get rich and very stupid people get rich; physically strong people get rich and weak and sickly people get rich…”

So we can conclude that the ability to get wealthy is not due to talent, education, a high IQ, mental and physical strength, or even your environment.

We can extrapolate this to any area in life where people strive to achieve goals. If you were to take a closer look at the people you went to school with, you’ll realize that intellect plays a very small role in people’s ability to succeed.

My university experience

When I was at the University of Nairobi, there were 3 categories of people according to some unwritten codes of social conduct:

  1. Ozone students: These were students from very wealthy or connected families in Nairobi and Mombasa. Kisumu was not a city then. The ozone layer also included (to some extent) students from other middle-class areas of Nairobi.
  2. Middle layer: These were students from the major towns. However, one had to speak great English to belong to this level.
  3. Bottom layer: These were students from rural areas. They were given the name of DF which was loosely translated to ‘District Focus for Rural Development’. This was in the Nyayo era (under President Moi) where rural development was a key political term.

I’m not sure whether the classifications still exist. In my time, they determined a lot of stuff, down to where you sat in class and who would want to sit with you or hang out with you.

It was easy for girls to cross the social boundaries and move up the ladder. However, this determination and a lot of remodeling, especially speech-wise. Some girls managed to do it with ease, some struggled and others didn’t bother.

It was not easy for a guy to cross the boundaries. Guys who fell for girls in higher social classes had a painful experience. And, it was worse if the girl’s friends got to know you were into her.

Where are the DFs today?

My point here is not to go deep into the social strata in universities. The point I want to make is that today, most of the so-called DF’s are highly successful people.

We read and hear about their accomplishments in the news. Many of them are driving Kenya politically, socially and economically. Some are great business people and have created businesses that are employing hundreds of Kenyans.

Others are CEOs of top organizations all over the world. They now employ ozone students under them. Many have climbed up corporate ladders and are doing very well professionally. Others have achieved great educational advances. Quite a number are very wealthy for people our age.

How did they do it?

[Tweet “”Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Seneca”]

The actual price for success

I’ve asked some of my former classmates this question. The answers are the same in almost all the responses I got:

  • they had focus and determination
  • they made a decision to succeed.

Quite a number silently made the decision to be rich. They wanted to ensure that their children would have access to all the amenities and luxuries they needed in life.

In many cases, the pain these people went through in University was a major driving force. They were willing to pay the price for success.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that those in the higher strata didn’t make it in life. Many did.

What I want to do here is draw your attention to the fact that there will be times when it seems as if everything is against you. There are moments in the goal achievement process when nothing seems to be working. It’s easy to give up.

The situation gets worse when you:

  • are broke.
  • have no source of income.
  • have to work or live under harsh conditions.

You can turn things around

No matter what you’re going through, you can make a decision to pay the price for success. Or, you can allow your not-so-good situation to bring you down.

Success always comes with a price attached to it. Your 10,000 hours of training include going through situations that are not to your liking.

However, when you take time to evaluate such situations, you will get to see the gifts that are hidden within the seemingly insurmountable odds. When you take time to evaluate these gems, you will find your key to success.

You have to make a decision to stick to this path and be willing to go through the tests that life will throw at you.

The larger your dream, the more the obstacles you may have to overcome because it means stepping so far out of your comfort zone that you create a totally new reality for yourself.

“Victory is what happens when 10,000 hours of training meet up with 1 hour of opportunity” – Anonymous

Your price for success may include some or all the following:

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  • Change into someone you had no idea you could one day become.
  • Be willing to put in extra time and effort (and have less free time).
  • Up your game and start thinking like a successful person – which is a totally different mindset.
  • Be willing to venture into areas that give you the shakes because you are so scared of the outcome, but you are ready and willing to test your ability to change.
  • Be willing to let go of people, situations and things that hold you back. This is one of the hardest hurdles to cross especially when you have to step away from relatives and some close friends.
  • Go back to school to get a certification that makes you competent in your field, especially for technical fields.
  • Be willing to let go of something that you hold dear to you e.g. a job, position, employer, habits or leisure activities.
  • Create strong boundaries and stand up for yourself at home, work, with friends (this is a big one for women).


Many things have to change. What will remain constant is the massive internal change and a total makeover of your thoughts, beliefs, habits, attitude and behavior.

“I hated every minute of training. But I said to myself, ‘Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'” Muhammad Ali

How can you get started today?

1. Invest in your personal development

Do this at whatever level that you can. You don’t have to pay for expensive talks, trainings or coaching. All you need to do is take one personal development book that resonates with you and work through it to the end.

Below is a list of books that I’ve found useful for beginners:

These books are available from local bookstores. You can also get them from Amazon.com by clicking on the links. Some of the books are available for free from the internet as PDF or Kindle downloads.

TIP: Pick one book and use it for 3 months or until you complete the program. This may take longer than 3 months for books like The Master Key System and The Success Principles.

Don’t make the mistake a lot of people make and work on many books at the same time. Just pick one book, use it daily, and most of all, implement the lessons. Reading the book like a novel will not help you; you need to put what you read into practice daily.

Also, note that contrary to what some of the titles imply, the books on wealth are not just about getting rich. Beyond that, they also teach you how to change your thoughts and achieve success in any area that you choose to.

2. Get a live or virtual mentor

Success does leave clues. Anything you want to achieve in life has already been achieved by someone else. If you’re on a new path, then there is someone who has achieved something close to it.

Find someone who is already successful in what you want to do and ask them to mentor you. Luckily, in today’s world you can get information easily from the internet.

If you cannot get a physical mentor, go online and search for stories of successful people. Follow these people by reading their blogs or biographies.

Pick one tip from each person or book and implement it in your life before adding another tip.

3. Keep track of your progress

This will help you measure how well you’re doing on your journey.

A good habit to start is keeping a daily journal where you write what’s going on. Your journal can be a physical book, MsWord template or you can find a secure online journal that prompts you to fill it daily.

This way, you too will be writing your story. You can summarize your lessons one day, publish them in a book or blog, and leave clues for other people.

4. Be patient with yourself

Don’t be in a hurry or beat yourself up if you’re not moving as fast as you expected. This is especially critical if you’re older and have encountered disappointments in the past.

The older you are when you start this process, the more habits, negative attitudes and disempowering behaviours you have to let go of.

Keep in mind Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours rule and start accumulating your hours today.

Your turn…

Do you have any success strategies that have worked for you? Please share them in the Comments section below.

Disclaimer: Some of the links on this blog are affiliate links and I get paid when you buy from the vendors.

(Images are courtesy of Stuart Miles at Free Digital Photos)

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