The difference between those who succeed and fail

Ke Qin, Ang
2 min readMay 16, 2019


How do you define success? How do you define failure?

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

I’ve come to realise — all of us will face the good and rainy days — days when you are at the top of your game and days when nothing seems to go right. Even for the successful ones.

Lately, I’ve been into biographies — the Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Jack Ma etc… I know of their highly-raved success stories through online media, but I was keen to know their real life story — not only how they made it, but also how they broke and came back up; not only their fame or glory, but also the sacrifices they made; not only their strength in vision, but their vulnerabilities and weaknesses that make them human.

Photo by Mahdi Dastmard on Unsplash

And it seems that it all comes down to three common traits they own.

1. Ability to throw away the idea of a ‘perfect human’ (not perfection, but perfect human)

You will realise that they aren’t the easiest bosses to work with — they can be very stubborn, persistent and some — not the most likeable.

To Jeff Bezos: “You can work long, hard, or smart, but at, you can’t choose two out of three”

2. Ability to not stay too hung up on the idea of ‘failure’ or get stuck with its label, even when they may seemed to have ‘failed’ at least once

Elon Musk got ousted as CEO from his own company, PayPal & recently, of the chairman role in Tesla; Steve Jobs felt forced to leave Apple in 1985)

3. Always finding a way to get back up, no matter how ‘impossible’ it seems

Elon Musk left PayPal and built SpaceX & Tesla; Steve Jobs left Apple, went to Pixar and joined back Apple to make it successful again

Knowing their life story provides me a good perspective on what success came down to — in reality. That they truly are as human.

If you want career success, you have to think “Is this what you can afford?” “Is this what you are willing to risk?” “Is this the alternative path you will take?”

Because, these people do.



Ke Qin, Ang

Digital Strategist. Enjoys books, design, architecture, flora and nature. Her motto: “Live fully, bravely & mindfully”