Smarts, Determination, and Success

The 150+ On Leadership with Scott Miller episodes now feature many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, bestselling authors, political leaders, and humanitarians. We have hosted guests with multi-billion dollar net worths, hundreds of millions of social followers, and those with no fame at all but with an incomparable currency called trust and influence.

Ambassadors, solopreneurs, academics, survivors of unthinkable events, inventors, and thought leaders from every sector of society and industry.

As the host and interviewer for FranklinCovey’s podcast, I receive dozens of emails, texts, and messages weekly with feedback on specific episodes. Thankfully, most of it is positive (welcome to putting yourself out there). What I hear consistently is how life changing many of these episodes have been for viewers and listeners (remember, the podcast is both video and audio). Some weeks it’s straight-up leadership blocking and tackling skills. Others offer lofty but inspiring insights from someone who’s faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles in life, quickly snapping ours into manageable perspective. The success these guests have achieved is remarkable.

For many of us, their success is unrelatable. We want it in our lives but don’t think we’re as smart as those who accomplished it.


Let me share my biggest insight from 150+ On Leadership interviews. THESE PEOPLE ARE NO SMARTER THAN YOU. OR ME.

Yes, many are Ivy League educated (but not a majority). Many have Ph.Ds. (but not a majority). Many come from family wealth and fame (but not a majority). In fact, they’re all remarkably different from each other in most every area including gender, nationality, race, religion, passions, and fears.

But what they all share in common is a dogged determination that separates them from 99 percent of the population. They keep their eye on the prize. They don’t let naysayers trip them up. They expect and brush aside useless criticism, recognizing it’s usually from those who are jealous or envious of their success and influence. Jealous of their determined focus on achieving their goals. They are confident…in themselves. They often have an over-exaggerated sense of self confidence—plainly put, they build an oversized ego to insulate themselves from the haters. The trolls. The people in the stands throwing tomatoes, not roses.

They work their asses off and consistently lift others loyal to them along the way. They don’t get distracted by those who can’t catch their vision. They wake early and sleep less. They postpone short-term fame for long-term influence.

They possess and maintain a level of self-determination that you may lack. Or maybe you have it and are following a similar path to achieve your goals and dreams.

I repeat, they are not any smarter than you or me. They just outwork everyone. Consistently. I’ve written about this same theme in several blog posts, but it’s my biggest takeaway from the interview with Jamie Kern Lima, founder of IT Cosmetics, which with her husband, she built into a global company and sold to L’Oréal for over $1 billion.

Jamie faced obstacles at every juncture and never gave up, often in the face of others telling her she was wrong. Headed in the completely opposite direction that she should be. That she’d never be successful because her instincts were off. She’d never build a beauty company, because she wasn’t…wait for it…beautiful.

They were wrong—to the tune of $1,000,000,000.

Determination. This is the main thread that ties those who achieve their goals. And those who criticize those who do.

To quote Brené Brown:

“A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

Memorize that quote and get back to work making your dreams your reality.

80% of your results will come from 20% of your activities—are you focusing on the right ones? Download The 80/20 Activity Analyzer tool to be more strategic in your process and more successful in your results.

About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as Senior Advisor, Thought Leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Releases, Master Mentors: 30 Transformative Insights From Our Greatest Minds, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

More Content by Scott Miller
Previous Article
How's Your Leadership Intuition?
How's Your Leadership Intuition?

Can you sense when something deeper is happening under the surface? If you want to build your intuition as ...

Next Article
6 Principles to Engage and Lead Leaders
6 Principles to Engage and Lead Leaders

Leading leaders is arguably the most demanding role in any organization. One that can sink you or elevate y...

6 Ways to Help Your Team Handle Stress During Times of Change

Download Guide