Goal setting

Success lessons from historical figures and 2 centi-billionaires

By on April 5, 2019

Everybody defines and measures success in their own ways. For some it could be measured by their salary or bank balance, the size of the house they own, ability to give back to society, etc.

Many people seek to know the best ways to achieve their goals, be it personal or professional. Some are more determined than others and hence end up achieving what they set out to. While there are many who search for pearls of wisdom from other successful people.

There are many books and articles from self proclaimed success gurus that can help you become successful. But a lot of these gurus simply sell “tips” that the audience wants to read. Many of these are appropriated from others’ experiences rather than their own journey. So whether or not these tips work is a whole other question.

In this article we are going to speak about some of the greats (past and present) and their tips to achieve success. Be it about the way we set goals, get feedback from others or simply how to conduct ourselves. Most of the basic principles are timeless and hence apply to today’s generation as well.



Michelangelo was a renowned sculptor, painter, architect and poet who has created the Statue of David, a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

Many a times we purposely set low benchmarks because we don’t want to get out of our comfort zones. Michelangelo wants us to set goals that are far more ambitious (aka stretch goals). We should exert ourselves and realize the value of our true potential.

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

When we speak about Michelangelo, we should also include his contemporary genius, Leonardo Da Vinci. The latter was also an artist of equal fame as well as a visionary. Most of the inventions that he visualized did not come to life until 400 or 500 years later! Mostly due to the technological limitations of his time.

Every action needs to be prompted by a motive – I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Just setting ambitious goals is not enough. Da Vinci implores us to take actions in a measured manner to accomplish what we set out to do.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

Darwin has more famously been associated with his quote, “Survival of the fittest.” Yes, that was true, for a time. Today fitness includes the physical as well as intellectual aspect of humans.

It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.

The latter part of his quote talks about the ability to adapt to change. Anyone with a fixed mindset is going to be limited with their knowledge. Eventually their limited knowledge & outdated skillset will no longer be in demand.

It is important for everyone to develop a growth mindset. Keep learning on a consistent basis so that they are always abreast with the changing world.

Marie Curie

Marie Curie

If we keep on focusing on our achievements, it is going to be difficult to explore what comes after that. If Marie Curie had been complacent with her first Nobel prize, she wouldn’t have achieved further milestones in her life. Despite her win she continued on the path of excellence and eventually landed her second Nobel Prize. Becoming the first person ever to win 2 Nobel prizes!

One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.

Accomplishing a significant milestone in your life is great. But that does not mean you should stop once you reach your goals. Renew them or go for a bigger challenge the next time.

We now come to the only 2 centi-billionaires and living legends who can teach us a thing or two about conducting our life.

Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Bill Gates needs no introduction. He has consistently topped the Forbes List of richest people. Although he is a self made billionaire, Gates does not disregard the countless employees who have made Microsoft a huge success.

We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.

Bill GatesHe recommends surrounding ourselves with people who can give us feedback at the right time. Thus we have a lot of scope for improvement.

When we relate his quote to the workplace, feedback takes on a whole new meaning. Rather than relying on impersonal one-word evaluations, encourage a feedback culture where employees freely share their thoughts in an objective and professional manner.

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos became the first ever centi-billionaire in 2018, according to Forbes list of super rich in the world with a net worth of $112 Billion. Tracking his journey from a small garage in 1995, where he launched Amazon, and turning it into a billion dollar company, his growth has been fantastic.

In business, what’s dangerous is not to evolve.

Time and again he has broken new grounds in areas like retail, entertainment and cloud based storage services. There have been a few hits and misses along the way, like the Amazon Fire Phone. But overall he has accomplished what many can only dream of.

In a recent article, he talked about how he follows a 3-step formula which says, “Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation.”

Working with talented experts:

Hiring experts is a no-brainer. What Bezos means by working with talented experts is working with experts who can collaborate harmoniously. If every expert is at loggerheads with every other expert then there is no chance of getting any work done, let alone achieve any milestones.

Developing a beginner’s mind:

As a beginner, you constantly try to up your knowledge that’s essential for carrying out your responsibilities. This attitude of consistently being in a learning mode, also known as a growth mindset, is highly important at all stages in life. Once you start behaving as if you have learnt everything there is to it, you stop developing yourself. Bezos suggests not falling prey to this fallacy. Any knowledge you gain can quickly become outdated given today’s pace of technology.

Focus on the long term:

Often times we focus on the short term gains and ultimately lose out on an even more rewarding long term prospect. This behaviour of being susceptible to quick gratification stops us from achieving our true potential.

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