6 Reasons Why Smart, Hardworking People Aren’t Always Successful

Did you ever look at someone and think, “Wow, this person’s going to do great things someday.”

The person stood out amongst his or her peers. She got straight A’s on her report and was praised by all her teachers. He was charismatic and held major leaderships at school. The individual had the entire package.

Now fast forward to the present day. You haven’t seen or heard anything spectacular about the person. In fact, there’s just radio silence.

Maybe you know someone like this. Or, maybe you are that person.

I used to think that intelligence and a strong work ethic were the only necessary ingredients for success. But that’s not the case. While both are important, the two alone aren’t a guarantee for success. A number of other factors come into play.

Here are 6 possible reasons why you might be struggling to succeed even if you’re smart and hardworking:

1. You believe you deserve success based on your credentials.

People that work hard in school usually also have the following: an impressive alma mater, numerous achievements, and high grades. They’re used to being at the top and told about how great they are.

All these things can feel good, but they also have a detrimental effect. I’ve heard people claim they deserve something because of their intelligence or where they went to school.

Do you expect things to pan out your way because of your school or past accomplishments? Unfortunately, it’s doesn’t work that way.

In the real world, results matter. Getting results means that hard work, strategic thinking, and some luck involved. You can increase that last factor by working on the first two.

2. You don’t believe in your capabilities.

On the other end of the spectrum are smart, hardworking people who don’t know what they are capable of achieving. Surprisingly, smart people can underestimate their own abilities. They are their own worst critic, causing them to think they can’t accomplish as much as they truly can.

Smart people have high standards when it comes to their work. Whenever they work on a project, they tend to scrutinize and second-guess the final product.

This seems like a good thing on the surface, but it’s more debilitating than helpful. Perfectionism can hinder you from progressing forward in your goals or starting on anything in the first place.

So instead of letting fears of “what if” or “I’m not good enough” keep you back from something new, just try something out. Getting started beats aiming for perfect every time.

3. You don’t reach out to new people.

The problem with smart people is that there’s a belief that they can make it on their own. Since they’re usually able to manage, there’s less of a need to reach out to others for help or to expand their network. Instead, smart people spend time with the people they already know.

Yes, it’s easy to hang out with old friends. You know each other’s histories and can laugh at inside jokes. While familiar friends are great to have, it’s equally important to get to know new people.

Staying nearby familiar people means that the same ideas are recycled over and over again, and you don’t get to learn new perspectives outside of your bubble.

It can be tough to reach out at first, but starting small can help. Aim for a low goal initially, such as introducing yourself to one new person a week. By doing so, you open yourself up to new opportunities, places, and ideas.

4. You find it hard to adapt to new situations.

A change in environment, whether it’s a change in circumstances or events, means that there’s a sudden need to adapt. Being in the same environment for a long time makes it hard to suddenly take advantage of a different situation.

The good news is that changes also mean opportunities. When a new opportunity arises, there’s a chance for innovation.

Instead of resisting changes, see how you can make the best of them and allow them to work for you. Be open to new concepts and curious about the world around you. Read books on entrepreneurship and ideas. Explore new places. There might be life-changing event waiting for you around the corner.

5. You don’t take calculated risks.

There are two types of risks you can take:

  • Blind risks, where something is done to seek excitement with a potentially disastrous effect and little long-term gain. Think gambling or speeding your car.
  • Calculated risks, where there is potential loss, but also potentially great long-term rewards. Think starting a new endeavor or reaching out to someone whose work you admire.

Smart people often opt for neither because they follow a conservative route. They might follow the same path as their peers or choose a career because it’s considered acceptable by everyone else.

While there’s a degree of security in doing so, it also means that there’s less chance of achieving great success by branching out.

6. You keep chasing the next big thing.

One thing I hear often from high achievers is that they hate wasting time. Smart people are all too aware of the value of their time, as time and effort spent on one thing means that they could potentially be missing out on something else.

While this is a strong attribute, it also means not following through on things. If you’re constantly aware of new opportunities, you might hear about a money-making scheme and jump into it like everyone else. After not getting the results you want, you give up and go after the next best thing.

But the best results take time. Starting out in any field or endeavor is tough, and getting through the initial obstacles requires patience. Focusing effort on one goal yields much better results in the long run than going after one thing, getting bored, and then going after something new.

Success is Within Your Reach

Are you ready to find success? To take action, here’s a guide for you:

How To Get Anything You Want

This guide will help you to:

  • Find a feasible idea to pursue.
  • Create a plan to keep yourself from veering off-track.
  • Use a strategy to overcome obstacles and setbacks.

Ready to bring positive change to your life? Grab your free guide here (it’s free).

I look forward to seeing you inside!

——

Melissa Chu helps people get productive and develop good work habits. You can download the free guide on how to set and achieve your goals.



Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books–written by men–barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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