Episode 79: Four Success Factors

Ever think that the extreme success astronauts, Nobel laureates and Olympic champions is out of reach for so-called regular people? Think again. Research on the world’s most successful people reveals that extreme high achievement is accessible to anyone who wants it and is willing to put in the work. This episode explores the methodological approach that people aspiring to improve their performance can adopt to achieve success.

Dr. Ruth Gotian is the Chief Learning Officer and Assistant Professor of Education in Anesthesiology and former Assistant Dean of Mentoring and Executive Director of the Mentoring Academy at Weill Cornell Medicine. In 2021, she was selected as one of 30 people worldwide to be named to the Thinkers50 Radar List, and she is also a semi-finalist for the Forbes 50 Over 50 list. Her research focuses on the mindset and skill set of peak performers, and she is the author of The Success Factor: Developing the Mindset and Skillset for Peak Business Performance.

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Episode Highlights


What led to Ruth's obsession with success


False beliefs that prevent us from reaching extreme high achievement


How intrinsic motivation enables high achievement


Why many Olympics champs don't displays their gold medals


How to rebuild intrinsic motivation after a setback


The importance of mentoring and having a team of mentors


Example of the deep, positive impact mentors can have


A secret to success is that learning and growing are never over.


Do extreme high achievers have a clear learning agenda?


How to maximize your learning


How extreme high achievers manage their time without burning out


Advice for finding mentors

Ruth’s view on the greatest unmet wellbeing need at work today

"I think we've been looking at well being wrong for a very long time. Yoga mats and granola bars are just not going to cut it. I think we have this undue pressure on ourselves. And people are saying "it's the system, it's the system, it's the system.

It might be, but and there's definitely fault there as well. But what role do we play in that in either perpetuating it in others, or ourselves? And I think we need to get some clarity on that."

What “working with humans” means to Ruth

“It really means working with other people, but getting to know them as people really getting to know their pain points, really getting to know what gets them excited, really gets to know what gets why they're passionate about certain things -- what is the cause? And why do they shy away from other[things]. And when you know that you really get to know people.”


Ruth on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram

Visit: Ruth's website

Read: The Success Factor: Developing the Mindset and Skillset for Peak Business Performance

Resource: Passion Audit (registration required)

Resource: Mentoring Team (registration required)

Michael Glazer is the creator and host of Humans At Work. His purpose in life is to make well-being at work a globally-accepted, basic human right. Learn more about Michael here.