The Four Key Elements Of Success

There are four major ingredients when it comes to success and they are talent, motivation, opportunity, and direction.


In order to be massively successful, natural talent does play a role. Regardless of how hard you work or apply yourself, unless you have some natural talent and skill, there will always be that barrier. It is important then to recognize just what you are naturally good at doing. Everyone has natural talent for one thing or the other. Do you excel at a particular sport? Are you a math whiz? Does meeting people and networking come easy to you?

Being good at one thing, which might just come to you from birth, and recognizing that, and capitalizing on that in your endeavors is a large part of being successful and reaching your full potential. It is then up to you to decide what you will do with your natural gifts.


You can have all of the talent in the world but unless you are internally motivated to actually use it you are not going to go all the way or as far as you could. There are four kinds of people when it comes to marrying talent and motivation.

  1. Those who are talented and motivated to use their abilities.
  2. Those who have talent but are NOT motivated to use their talents.
  3. Those are motivated and work hard but do not have the natural talent as those who are gifted.
  4. Those who lack talent and ability, and are not motivated.

Those in the first group are the super achievers that you see in life, the wunderkinds. The second group is made up of those who frustrate us all. They are the ones who never studied in school and still aced the tests, or never show any signs of applying themselves, and in spite of it all pull off some rather spectacular things in life.

I believe the third group represents the majority of us. Those who are work their butts off and are always doing their best. They will never get as far as those in the first group, and will possibly even be surpassed by those in the second but these folks are the constant performers who consistently “show up” and get the job done.

Lastly, the fourth group… They may be talented and motivated but have to figure out to what degree and how to apply it in life. The sad thing is that in many cases, they may never find out and flounder forever.


The third key element for success is opportunity. Sometimes your environment is just prohibitive and not in-line with your skills and motivation. For instance, if you are a crack computer programmer, but can not find a job doing that and are stuck doing something else like working a customer service desk, you are not going to reach your full potential.

Whereas talent and internal drive or motivation are internal forces that can not be changed too much, it is possible to break out of a mold that you are cast in, overcome those obstacles and achieve great success. It might take time to find that “place” where you fit in and can excel but if you hunt for it, it can be found. There is a reason they say that we make our own opportunities.


You have to have direction in life to get to where you want to go. It sounds easier than it is. If you have talent, motivation, opportunity, but lack a plan, or have a bad plan, then you are going to falter.

SMART Goals give one direction and by creating a goal – one also develops a plan. But there are other ways to get direction like going to school for a certain specialty or seeking training, having a coach, or at the very least, having a great mentor.

There is debate on which is better… some say that it is better to have bad plan better than now plan at all. Others say that having a bad plan can do more damage in the long-term, so who knows. If I had to err in one way or the other I believe having a bad plan is better than no plan because at least if you execute the bad plan and it doesn’t work  you have then eliminated that path as a future option.

The Most Important Element

As pointed out earlier most people who are successful in life fall into the third group of achievers. Those with some talent but who are really gifted with a solid work ethic. They are the ones who truly give 100% at everything they do.

To be successful, get to know yourself, what you are good at, what you are passionate about and set that as your course. This will spawn you natural drive and motivation and if you do not have the opportunities immediately available that fit you, you can seek them out.

Choose your direction as best you can. As Lewis Carroll said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Have your goal, your objective, and end result in mind as you define youth path to your success.

Everybody has one combination or the other when it comes to the four elements of success. Which combination do you have?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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