Wisdom//

What 5 Powerful People Can Teach Us about Success

Mindy Kaling, Taylor Swift, Oprah Winfrey, and more have learned a lot along the way.

Rich Fury / Staff / Getty Images / Presley Ann / Contributor / Getty Images / Barcroft Media / Contributor / Getty Images
Rich Fury / Staff / Getty Images / Presley Ann / Contributor / Getty Images / Barcroft Media / Contributor / Getty Images

Actress Mindy Kaling recently shared an epiphany she’s had about success, telling Variety, “For many years, I thought that hard work was the only way you could succeed, but it’s simply not true… Particularly if you’re a woman of color, you need people to give you opportunities, because otherwise it won’t happen. Talent is an important part of success, but you also need mentors to find promise in people that don’t necessarily seem like they will fit in.”

Kaling has found that getting ahead and having a thriving career boils down to much more than how much — or how little — you work, and representation, along with support from your fellow co-workers, matters enormously. Here’s what four other powerful people can also teach us about lifelong success.

Oprah Winfrey believes that getting what we want comes with self-belief

Winfrey wrote about pursuing goals in O, The Oprah Magazine: “What I know for sure is this: The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal for this year is, you can get there — as long as you’re willing to be honest with yourself about the preparation and work involved. There are no back doors, no free rides. There’s just you, this moment and a choice.” Reaching our goals comes down to honesty and preparation — and being mindful not to overextend ourselves during that pursuit. We’re most successful when we tend to ourselves carefully, and make sure to work smarter, not harder.  

Howard Schultz says that success should be shared

The Starbucks Chairman Emeritus spoke about this idea during the commencement address he delivered at Arizona State University in 2017. He said that when he was a kid, he never could have predicted that he’d start a company — especially one of the coffee giant’s size. And what’s more, the company he did found is successful in his view because it respects its workers. “From day one, I really wanted to build the kind of company my father never got a chance to work for. A company that honors and respects the dignity of work and the dignity of all men and all women,” Schultz said. “Success in business and in life is best when it’s shared.”

Former GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch thinks leaders have a specific responsibility when it comes to success

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others,” the businessman wrote in his book, Winning. Success takes on a whole new meaning once you take the reins at work.

Taylor Swift believes in the power of a good support system

When the singer took home the Album of the Year award at the 2016 Grammys for her album 1989, she spoke about success during her acceptance speech — and how much of it can be influenced by your support system. “As the first woman to win Album of the Year at the Grammys twice, I want to say to all the young women out there: There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame, but if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you’re going, you’ll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there, and that will be the greatest feeling in the world,” she said.

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