Make time to read biographies and autobiographies

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

There are many different things that ambitious people do when they want to have the best possible chance of success These can range from pursuing certain types of educational qualifications, or consulting with expert analysts, to buying an expensive suit and rehearsing potential interview questions in front of the mirror for hours.

But while doing an MBA in strategy online, or working on your personal presentation can be excellent ways of ensuring your success down the line, there are some much simpler and more fundamental steps that you can take first.

One of these — often overlooked — is simply taking the time to read through the biographies of successful people, in order to glean lessons from the experiences of those who have walked the path before you, so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel yourself.

Here are some reasons why you should begin making time to read the biographies, and autobiographies, of successful people, today.

Success leaves clues
Every time you read about someone who has been dramatically successful in a certain discipline, or area of life, you can rest assured that he or she has done a few things — or maybe a lot of things — right.

Sure, luck plays a part in everything, but it is truly rare to find a highly successful person who can attribute all of their success — and their ability to hold onto that success — to luck alone. At some point, good habits, wise decisions, and a winning strategy all become crucial factors to consider.

It’s for this reason that the old saying; “success leaves clues,” rings true.

In any given instance, it can be difficult knowing what the best course of action is in order to ensure the greatest possible chance of overall success and prosperity. Thousands, if not millions of articles and books have been written about the fundamentals of success in various endeavors, and your own experiences may drag in yet other directions.

Seeing what successful people have done, that’s worked for them, is an excellent shortcut to obtaining good, tried and tested ideas about the best ways to act.

Failure leaves clues
For every example of a fantastically successful business icon, who kept their cool and consolidated their resources and victories against all the odds, you will find examples of the sample people making bad mistakes and errors of judgment, and sabotaging themselves in the process.

All humans are bound to experience their fair share of failure in life — and even the super-successful don’t get it right all of the time.

Just as success leaves clues, so to does failure, and you can avoid many potential failures of your own by learning what not to do from those who have made those mistakes first.

Some failure is inevitable, of course. This is part of learning and growth, and it builds character. Having a bit of help in avoiding the major missteps, however, can’t hurt.

Understanding a “success mindset” is essential
The practical business decisions and productivity habits of the rich and successful, as well an overview of their professional blunders, are by no means the only things you have to learn from reading their biographies.

Just as important as all the other stuff, is understanding the mindset that underpins success. It is simply an axiomatic truth, that no one is successful over the long-term, either in business or in life, without developing a mindset that contributes positively towards that success, and helps to drive away despair, doubt, and negativity.

It’s no great surprise that so many successful people, in a diverse array of fields, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Richard Branson, have endorsed practices like mindfulness meditation, positive affirmations, and various other forms of self-care.

Those who are perpetually scared, sad, bitter, and withdrawn, simply can’t thrive until they change their thinking.

Give yourself a shortcut to success, and work on understanding the “success mindsets” of the high achievers.

Getting some perspective, and staying inspired, is essential
Even if you manage to internalize the right habits and mindset for success, and do a pretty good job of not sabotaging yourself in the most obvious ways, your motivation and energy levels are bound to wane sooner or later.

Another key benefit of reading the biographies of successful people is to give yourself a boost of motivation and inspiration. You should remind yourself that anything is possible, and great rags to riches stories really do happen.

Then, with renewed purpose, get back out there. 

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