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10 secrets to success I learned from fighting

This article will show you the best ways to leverage your energy towards the goal of becoming more successful.

Ed Latimore
Ed Latimore
Writer, retired boxer, self-improvement enthusiast

If you want to learn how to be successful, you need to continue reading. This article will change your life for the better.

I got an email asking me to give my one key to personal success. I answered the email because I ALWAYS answer emails (what’s the point of the internet if I can’t communicate with people), but I immediately had two reservations.

First, I don’t consider myself at the destination of success yet. I don’t think I’ll arrive at success because success is a journey rather than a destination.

I know that everyone has their own definition of success.. Success isn’t a place you finally arrive at but a process you continuously go through. By constantly moving out of your comfort zone and dealing with inevitable roadblocks to progress, only then can you truly become a successful person.

I am moving strongly in the right direction–dealing with my fears, doubts, and negative thoughts along the way–but I don’t think my life is a greater success than anyone else who decides to go after what they want. While the destination may differ, all successful people follow the same general road map.

My second reservation was that it’s impossible to give just one! This inspired me to write a list.

These are the things that have contributed to the progress in my life. These are the keys to living a high-quality life that makes it possible to chase big goals. Hopefully, from them, you can also learn how to be successful. 

Whether you want to help others, start your own business, or spend your days lounging on the beach, I believe this article can help you achieve all of that–and much more if you want to.

This isn’t a step-by-step template that tells you exactly what to do to become a successful person. I merely tell you what has worked for me to get where I am today.

If I inspire you to take similar action to take greater control of your life, have your success, and get what you want, I’ve done my job.

1. Successful people know how to make an impression

how to be successful dress well ed latimore
how to be successful dress well ed latimore

Successful people know that a great first impression goes a long way. If you make a good first impression, then you will have more life-changing opportunities thrown your way than you know what to do with.

People may not know anything about what you have or can do for them, but it doesn’t matter if you present yourself well in your first meeting, it doesn’t matter. They will go out of their way to befriend you and be more eager to share your company.

First impressions come down to the positive impact you have on their senses. Even in digital interactions, your appearance in your social media pictures will influence how receptive people are to your offer.

While you can’t control height or facial symmetry, you can control your body weight and the type of clothes you wear. This will give you more opportunities in life in every possible way.

You’ll be more likely to get hired or get a date, you’ll have more energy and greater confidence, and people will trust you faster. Take advantage of the Halo Effect. The Very Well Mind explains the Halo Effect quite nicely:

The halo effect is a type of cognitive bias in which our overall impression of a person influences how we feel and think about his or her character.

Physical appearance is a BIG part of the halo effect. The halo effect is a big part of making a great impression. We assume that attractive people will be good at other things too,

There is no disadvantage to being good-looking, but people often think that if they aren’t born with model looks, there is no hope for them. Here is a short list of things you can do to improve your appearance and make a better first impression:

  • Lower your body fat
  • Groom well
  • Dress cleanly
  • Speak clearly
  • Hold eye contact
  • Improve your posture

If you work on improving how you look, present yourself, and interact with people, you will have much more success in your life.

2. You can’t be afraid of hard work

Stop putting off the work you have to do on yourself.

There is no way around pain, discomfort, and suffering. To have a happy life, sometimes you have to do things that make you unhappy. People forget this and try to reduce their suffering by doing as little as possible.

The irony is that you end up suffering more by trying to avoid suffering.

You get four years to study something, and all majors cost roughly the same. If you study communications so you can have a fun time and avoid hard work and late nights, you’ll suffer more because you’ll have far fewer earning opportunities.

If you major in something rigorous, this leaves little time for a social life, but you’ll have a much better time because you can earn more money.

All of the desirable things in life are guarded by undesirable actions. No one wants to expend more energy than necessary because it’s unpleasant and exhausting. However, if you want a successful life, this is the only way to get one.

There’s nothing worse than choosing the pain of poverty over the pain of work. If you decide to sleep in rather than hit the gym, you choose the pain of poor health over the pain of being a little tired.

This is choosing the pain of procrastination over the pain of progress.

You’re going to experience pain no matter what. Make sure it’s in pursuing something great instead of avoiding something necessary.

Ed Latimore working out

3. Realize that there are no overnight successes

Delayed gratification is closely related to the ability to endure suffering.

Many people fail because they simply can’t imagine something called “the future” showing up. Instead, they do whatever feels good in the immediate moment. The inability to save money or purchase things of value rather than flash all stem from this basic problem.

By delaying gratification, you force yourself to look into the future and plan for things that could go wrong. This is how a person becomes successful: they plan for what can go wrong, execute their plan when it does, and remain in a position to improve rather than recover.

When I was in a terrible financial situation, barely making even four figures per month, one of my biggest issues was never being able to get ahead of my problems. I only reacted to them as they occurred rather than proactively preventing them.

I couldn’t be successful because of the constant sting of surprise bills and emergencies.

My car would need a surprise fix, or I’d get a boot on it, or I need to visit Medexpress (I certainly couldn’t afford medical insurance). The list goes on, but these surprise problems always came at the worst time. The only way to avoid them was to better prepare for their possibility.

I had to learn to account for the future and start doing what it took to ensure financial surprises wouldn’t decimate me. I had to start saving money, spending less, and making smart long-term decisions that had less potential to blindside me.

Success means short-term sacrifice for long-term gain. Nowhere is this more apparent than in one’s financial situation.

If you constantly give in to what you want at the moment, you will never be able to look more than one move ahead in your life.

4. Build successful relationships

When you’re in the pursuit of a serious goal, realize that your entire life must become as efficient as possible.

This means selecting the right romantic relationship for you. I have a wonderful relationship because I do not enjoy playing the field although I’m good at it.

A successful relationship requires two things: you must develop yourself and vet the other person. People who are unhappy in relationships drop the ball on one of these things. Sometimes they fail on both.

Some people can deal with the time and emotional investment of dating many people. Some people hate everyone and want to be left alone. In the end, find the right relationship for you so that you don’t worry about dealing with your emotional and physical needs.

[Read: Is karma real? 3 life lessons from an internet troll]

Photo of Ed Latimore with his fiancé Anna
Anna and Me

5. Always learn new skills

Some people believe they can be successful without help by blazing their own trail.

This is flawed because it ignores mortality. Humans have a very small amount of usable time on this planet. You’re going to die—probably sooner than you think and most likely when you least expect it.

Let’s assume you live to 90–about six months longer than you can expect to live in Monaco, the country with the highest life expectancy. You’ll spend the first 20 years developing and the last 30-40 on a physical and mental decline. This gives you about 40 years to learn when your mind is at its most plastic.

You can’t learn everything the hard way. You simply don’t live long enough. Even if you did, many lessons are so traumatic that you may not survive them in a state where you can reap the benefits of what you learn.

This is why you must acquire mentors.

This is why you have to learn from the mistakes of others.

Only a fool spends the prime of his life learning from his own mistakes.

You need people to show you the fastest way to get things done so you don’t spend your whole life reinventing the wheel to get to a “new’ place–only to find nothing.

Failures are necessary except when they aren’t; most unnecessary failures come from not relying on what was discovered before you.

Check out the rest of my boxing articles here

Ed Latimore teaching a group of people

6. Successful people can take constructive criticism

You aren’t unsuccessful just because you’re doing something wrong. That is obvious. What, perhaps, is not obvious is that you can correct your deficiencies.

You are not fixed the way you were born. To correct the flaws in your abilities and personality, you must listen to people who give you criticism without becoming reactive.

The best way to develop this ability is to ask someone to tell you everything wrong with you. It doesn’t need to be a friend. It doesn’t have to be someone you like or trust. All that matters is that they are willing to tell you all the shit wrong with you. It doesn’t even matter if it’s objectively right or wrong.

What DOES matter is how you can take it. The only response is silence and deep thought to figure out when you’ve displayed such behavior. Only once you’ve learned to take criticism without being reactive can you learn from it.

The ultimate goal is self-awareness of behavior or tendencies that counter your success.

7. Focus on handling one thing at a time

A large hurdle for me to overcome in my 20s was multitasking.

I’d always have three or four projects in the works, thinking that working on many things at once was better than working only on one. However, multitasking is the most comfortable lie we tell ourselves.

You can only work on one thing at a time. Each time you switch tasks, you lose time and momentum in the act of switching. You interrupt the state of flow you were in the process of achieving.

As a result, your complete work is low quantity AND quality. If you must do multiple projects, you chunk them into 1-2 hour blocks of time and remove access to all distractions. Your cellphone, internet, and changing music are the three big ones you have to deal with.

Successful people learn to focus on one thing at a time.

There’s no point in managing them—just get rid of them when you work on a project.

8. Get rid of your bad habits to change your life

You have to love who you are because you’re going to spend a lot of time alone. This is another thing that held me back until a series of events forced me to learn to be alone.

At first, I coped by drinking nearly a box of wine a day, but eventually, I learned the error of my ways. I am an extrovert so I naturally want to be around people and socialize. Unfortunately, extroversion runs counter to getting things done.

People are the most important thing, and being around them is good, but every moment spent socializing is a moment lost building value.

Learn to build a life that doesn’t always need people. This is why so much of the self-improvement community is big into weight lifting and writing. You don’t need other people to do those things. It’s also why there’s such an emphasis on the quality of the people you spend time around versus the quantity.

Your time with people will become more scarce but more valuable. You’ll have to increase the value of the people you spend time around but decrease the amount of time you spend around them.

Don’t worry if you don’t love yourself much right now; with each tiny accomplishment, this love grows until it overwhelms. The final step assists greatly with this

9. Show gratitude and be thankful

Gratitude is important because it’s a sustainable mindset.

Revenge, anger, and fear are powerful but consume the host. Wanting more for your life is all well and necessary, but you must not hate what and where you are now.

No matter how deplorable or lazy parts of your personality are, other parts are enjoyable and will contribute to your greatness—if you learn to harness and develop them. This means developing a love for your life and yourself. It means being grateful.

I used to harbor a lot of anger about the opportunities I missed because I grew up in the projects. I spent a lot of time angry at my mom in my late teens/early twenties, but this did nothing for me.

It didn’t make me better or her better. It didn’t undo the past. It also made me forget the good things that she instilled in me and that I learned from my environment. Things that I use every day to make my life better.

Buried within the terribleness you’ve experienced is a lesson. If you can extract it, then your bad fortune becomes a great advantage. 

Learn to be grateful for everything that’s happened to you, everything around you, and everything that you are—eventually, you will be anything you want to be because you’ll love every part of the journey to get there. I hope I’ve been able to inspire you to do something great.

10. Don’t give up

Of all the secrets of success, this is the most important one.

Every success story is built on never giving up, no matter how bad things get.

It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how much constructive criticism you take, or how well you focus if you give up the moment things get difficult—because things will always get difficult. One of the best ways to know if the goal you’re pursuing is worthwhile is the number of challenges you face along the route to its acquisition.

You can face moments of self-doubt, but you still have to keep going. You can sometimes have low self-esteem but still have to keep going.

As long as you put one foot in front of the other toward your goal, you will eventually be successful. Or, at the very least, you will accomplish something more than what you had accomplished before.

The rest is up to you.

Check out the rest of my boxing articles here

Ed Latimore
About the author

Ed Latimore

I’m a writer, competitive chess player, Army veteran, physicist, and former professional heavyweight boxer. My work focuses on self-development, realizing your potential, and sobriety—speaking from personal experience, having overcome both poverty and addiction.

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