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The Fundamentals of Success

We often hear it takes hard work and luck to be successful. While there is truth to this, science also plays a big role in every success story: recent studies have shown that the neurons in our brains contribute to our professional fortunes. Here are some other factors that can affect success.

Making Quick and Smart Decisions

A large part of success is in the decision-making process. It shouldn’t be surprising that making quick decisions is a trait found in many successful people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Both made quick yet thoughtful decisions that have left a lasting impression on our culture.

The decision-making process can be stressful and sometimes leave you wondering how successful people always seem to know what to do. The reason is that they’re making decisions every day, and it doesn’t matter if they lead to success or not. As Earl Miller of MIT and Mark Histed of Harvard explained in Entrepreneur, “Our neurons retain memory and become more finely tuned when we succeed… There is a difference between the absence of success and the presence of failure.”

The fact is that when making decisions, we’re exercising the basal nuclei, which helps the brain process and foresee many outcomes. Science has shown that the basal nuclei changes and grows thicker with every decision made. It’s literally strengthened by decision-making.

Developing Social Skills

A 2014 study by University of California, Santa Barbara economist Catherine Weinberger found that those who climb the corporate ladder the quickest tend to be adept both professionally and socially. Both quantitative skills and social skills are equally important when climbing the ladder to success, so the ability to use both hemispheres of the brain is a definite advantage. Weinberger’s research showed that while being an expert in your field is certainly an important element of success, training the right side of your brain, which focuses on creativity, is an important aspect of success as well.

Staying Positive

There will always be successes and failures in your career, and most people face failure at some point in their lives. However, taking the “glass half full” approach has proven to be a key factor in long-term success. Research has shown that remaining positive has allowed people to stay on task and solve problems quicker. According to Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson of Psychology Today, remaining open allows for a more exploratory information-processing style, and greater comfort with risk, which facilitates creativity… [people who do this] are open to more possibilities.

Staying positive allows your brain to combat the stress-causing hormone, cortisol, which can wreak havoc on your brain. A positive attitude will not only decrease your cortisol levels, but will also increase the function of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that increases attention span, concentration, and aids memory. This positive neurotransmitter is a key reason why successful people tend to attract even more success in their lives. They crave the rush that dopamine gives them and will want to recreate that feeling, which usually ends in positive results.

Jennifer D’Agostino | Contributing Writer

Summer 2024

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