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Harvard professor says there is one trait that sets highly successful people apart

Though it is widely believed that setting goals and creating timelines is good, the professor shares that there are cons to it too.

Harvard professor says there is one trait that sets highly successful people apart
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | August De Richelieu

People do a lot of things to become successful in life. From being confident to studying in top colleges and getting good grades, they try every hook and nook to reach the pinnacle. But according to an expert, these are not the things that make one successful. Harvard Business School professor Joseph Fuller has come to the consensus that "adaptability" makes a person successful. He has spent the better part of a decade studying and working with the most successful people in the world, reports CNBC Make It.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Anders Kristensen
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Anders Kristensen

Fuller explained, "They're not wedded to some predetermined career path that they set when they were a student or starting their first job. They're open to unexpected opportunities and embrace change instead of fearing it." Though it is believed that setting goals and creating timelines are good, Fuller believes there is a danger to it too. People often become so focused on what they want to achieve that they close themselves to any detours or non-linear paths, per the professor.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Marek Levak
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Marek Levak

To give an example, he pointed to those who turn down a job at a startup despite it exciting them and paying well because they want to work in a big company. Or those who are tempted to look for a new job despite being content because they are not getting promotions as they wanted. According to Fuller, in both cases, "you're ignoring what motivates or interests you, and instead letting rigid expectations guide your career. That type of stubborn mentality won't take you far."

He added, "Staying fixated on a devout career path without evaluating emerging options is also opposite to a recipe for success." He also shared that adaptability is a skill that is rare to find. "People are afraid to try new things and fail. But you can't grow without moving beyond your comfort zone," he emphasized. Recent research from LinkedIn also backs the professor's claims. It states that adaptability is a soft skill that is "increasingly in demand" in many industries.

The research is the outcome of the post-pandemic workforce where AI is coming up, more and more workplaces are opting to go remote or hybrid and the fact that five generations are working together who have different work and communication styles. Aneesh Raman, LinkedIn Vice President, said that employers want to have people who can quickly adjust to all these changes. He stated in the report, "Adaptability is the best way to have agency right now. At the core of managing change is building that muscle of adaptability."

In another story, u/successful-word-9834 shared on Reddit what being successful in career and life really means. He wrote that he was wondering why he is no longer as ambitious as he was and realized that it is because he has achieved what he wanted which is a loving family with a home. He then explained that he and his wife can earn about $100,000 a year and save about $30,000.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Fauxels
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Fauxels

"I finally figured it out that once we achieve our basic dreams, there is this voice in our head telling us we need just a little more," he wrote. "I have been alive for 50 years through both Republican and Democratic presidencies and the reason I am where I am is because of me. I am the richest man in the world because when I look around, trying to figure out what I need next, I can't think of anything. I won. From here on out, all the rest is just showing off!"

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