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The psychology behind the success: what makes a millionaire tick?

I’ve often been asked during my career, what sets super-successful businessmen or multi-millionaires apart from ‘ordinary’ people. My answer is always the same: MINDSET. 

Most people aren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth and endless opportunities, but everyone is born with the potential to do great things. Ultimately, it’s simply a choice whether you decide to do something with it or not. 

I am not a psychologist, but over the past 25+ years, I have learned to identify the personality traits of those who are successful (or have the potential to be) and those who aren’t. I have also identified shared similarities with a lot of equally successful people in various industries. 

So, the purpose of this article isn’t to scorn people who aren’t rich or pursuing a career in business, it’s to identify whether success (in whichever way you interpret that) is a by-product of psychological traits. If so, what are those traits?

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Successful people have growth mindsets 


When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing you think about? Is it what TV show you’re going to binge-watch that day? Is it dread for the working day ahead? Is it how excited you are for the weekend? 

People with growth mindsets aren’t! They think about what potential every day has and what they can do in it to improve themselves.

People with fixed mindsets view themselves as having static personality traits that cannot be changed. Those with a growth mindset on the other hand constantly strive to overcome challenges, better themselves and prioritise personal development.

Whichever mindset you adopt will have a profound effect on how you live your life, what opportunities you pursue and ultimately, what you accomplish. 

Your goal doesn’t have to be becoming a millionaire, but how you CHOOSE to position your mindset will impact your goals and aspirations. 

They’re incredibly inquisitive 

The pursuit of knowledge and the desire to continually learn is one of my biggest lessons for anyone pursuing a career in business. But more importantly, it can help in everyday life.

Successful people are curious. Curious to learn new things, explore new avenues, and tread into the unknown! Starting and running a business requires these qualities because industries are always changing, and with that so must your strategy.

If you aren’t willing to learn from mistakes, study the market and take risks, you’ll always be outperformed by those who are! 

They own their mistakes 

When I was in my mid-twenties, I had created a successful chain of strip clubs and felt invincible. But when the credit crunch hit in 2008, I lost it all. The only person I blamed was myself. I had been irresponsible and made some questionable decisions over the years.

Bankrupt with no income whatsoever, I got back to my feet, took full responsibility and started again. Accepting failure just wasn’t in my nature. I had the humility to apologise and make amends with those who suffered by my actions. I asked for help guidance and I rebuilt my network in order to progress.

If I hadn’t done all of those things, I wouldn’t be where I am now- and it’s all because I knew I had fucked up and wasn’t too proud to admit it. 

Failure is a bitter pill to swallow, but successful people view it as an opportunity to learn and do better. And more often than not, they will- i certainly did!

They’re adaptable 

Thousands of people lost their businesses during the pandemic. Most will say it was due to covid. However, that isn’t entirely true – many flourished, and not by chance. 

The issue for many business owners wasn’t the state of the economy and lockdown, it was their lack of preparation and unwillingness to adapt their business model. 
Markets constantly change, just like the economy. Good businessmen understand that in order to continue making money and growing, they need to adapt themselves, their methods and their plans. The businesses that did survive during Covid understood this. They changed or improved their products, took their services online to accommodate lockdown rules and listened to their customers.

Why? Because when circumstances change, so do the needs of your consumers!

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They don’t believe in luck!

Luck is a belief coined by lazy people! Unless you win the lottery, it’s complete and utter bullshit. 

Success is systemic. It’s a product of rigorous planning, organisation and preparation – NOT chance. 

If you’re starting out in business, do you honestly believe it’s luck that helps you secure funding, a great deal on manufacturing and customers? Absolutely not! A shit-hot business model, clever marketing and persistence is the reason. There is a reason the expression ‘you make your own luck’ exists!

Say for example you decide to invest in property and one year in, rents skyrocket and you’re raking in profit. Some would argue this is luck, but I’d say it was a well-thought-out strategy built off the back of economic research! 

Nothing in this world is free or ‘by chance’, people decide what they want and only they can make it happen. 

They’re patient and persistent 

Success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a very long and frustrating process that happens over years or even decades. 

We’ve all heard the expression, ‘climbing the ladder’, but it really is the perfect metaphor to describe a journey to success. Every step you take is one closer to the top, but you must maintain balance and patience to get there safely. 

There’s a common misconception that starting a business is a get-rich-quick scheme. I’m sorry to break it to you, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In most cases, you’ll actually lose money in the beginning. 

If you’re persistent and motivated to make it work, you’ll do whatever it takes to get there. You’ll spend your weekends doing market research, trade in social events for self-development and sacrifice some luxuries to put more into your business or invest in another venture. 

Whichever approach you decide to take, stick at it. The penny WILL drop at some point. 

You need to want it

As you all may know, my journey in business hasn’t been smooth sailing. But what I will say is, that it’s possessing all the qualities above that have helped me overcome career-ending failures and surpass all the goalposts I’ve ever set for myself. 

As a businessman at the height of his success, I still crave a new challenge – every single day. And I can say without a doubt, that I always will. 

If you want to reach your full potential but struggle to find the right mindset, MAKE time for self-development, read more books, hit the gym and step away from anything that is holding you back, like relentless partying or spending sprees. If you want to be successful, it starts with you.

And with that, I have one final question: who do you want to be?

If you need some no-bullshit guidance, advice or tips on how to self-motivate, change your lifestyle or succeed in business, get in touch with me via info@matt-haycox.com or follow me on my social channels! 

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