Finding Your Inner Greatness


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Most of the self-made millionaires in my Rich Habits study never saw themselves as anything but ordinary.

Most weren’t very good students growing up. Only 14% were A students. The remaining 86% were either B, C or D students.

Most came from either poverty (41%) or the middle-class (59%), so their parents had few, if any, rich, influential friends who could open up doors for their children. And, since most of their friends were either poor or middle-class, those friends couldn’t open up any doors for them either.

Only 61% of my self-made millionaires went to college. For the rest, the 39%, college was an expensive luxury they just couldn’t afford.

So, how did they break free from poverty or the middle-class then?

A more targeted, better question would be: What unique traits did they posses that elevated them above their socioeconomic peers?

I discovered that every self-made millionaire had six common traits that were responsible for helping them climb out of poverty or the middle-class.

I cover these in detail in my two most recent books – Change Your Habits Change Your Life and Rich Habits Poor Habits, but I’ll share them with you here, in the order of importance:

  1. Intense Passion
  2. A Desire to Learn
  3. Relentless Practice
  4. Laser-Like Focus
  5. Hard Work Ethic and
  6. Patience and Persistence

The great irony is that my self-made millionaires didn’t even know they possessed these traits until some passion deep inside of them stimulated them to take action.

Once they began pursuing that passion, it’s like all hell broke loose.

Their desire to learn more about the thing they were passionate about became an obsession that morphed into a daily habit.

Their love for what they were doing kept them doing it, practicing it, every day until they become proficient, then good, then virtuosos in what they were doing. even when nothing was going right and everything seemed difficult.

Their intense desire to learn and overcome every obstacle forced them to focus like a laser at different times, so they could figure out what to do and what not to do.

An outsider looking in would see my self-made millionaires tirelessly pursuing their passion and conclude that they possessed some unique, manic work ethic.

Because mastery and success took so long, an average of twelve years or more, they forged two co-traits: patience and persistence.

The #1 thing I took away from my very ordinary self-made millionaires is that everyone is born with these success traits hardwired into their DNA and just waiting to be sprung loose.

Unfortunately, they remain dormant until you unleash them. And you unleash them by pursuing things you are passionate about; activities that make your heart sing.

Passion creates the desire to learn.

Passion provides the emotional energy to practice every day for many years.

Passion allows you to focus like a laser in solving problems and overcoming obstacles.

Passion allows you to work long hours for many years, forging a manic work ethic daily habit.

And Passion enables you to take a long view, as you patiently persist in pushing the ball up the hill.

You have really one thing to do in order to succeed in life:

Find something that makes your heart sing and take action on it!

The rest of what you need to succeed, will follow.

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Thomas C. Corley About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley is a bestselling author, speaker, and media contributor for Business Insider, CNBC and a few other national media outlets.

His Rich Habits research has been read, viewed or heard by over 50 million people in 25 countries around the world.

Besides being an author, Tom is also a CPA, CFP, holds a master’s degree in taxation and is President of Cerefice and Company, a CPA firm in New Jersey.
Phone Number: 732-382-3800 Ext. 103.
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  1. Tom, today’s piece is outstanding. As a 66 year old I read it with gratitude and excitement because this is exactly how it worked for me. Had a mentor, Clay Huston, who told me at 18 years of age to find something that I was passionate about and I’d never work a day in my life. He followed by saying, oh, Timothy, one other thing. When you pray ask God to give you gumption. Love your mission Tom. Thanks for all you do to help so many.

  2. From birth, you are endowed with the potential of a force that allows you to open your “voice.” Sprouts of greatness have already been planted, even if they are latent and undeveloped. You have already got the luxurious “gift for the birth”: your talents, abilities, privileges, intellect, opportunities – which for the most part will remain unused, unless you decide and try to use them.

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