Scientific research shows that IQ, GPA, or how technically gifted you are do not determine your long term success. What does are three simple variables: your mindset, interpersonal skills (EQ), and ability to handle stress and adversity. Below you will find articles and further readings from the world’s top researchers and psychologists on the subject. Click on any one of the 3 success predictors below to learn more.

Success and Mindset

“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

– William James, father of modern psychology

Having the 'right mindset' means being positive, proactive, resilient, having grit and persistence, and most of all, believing that your abilities and talents are not fixed but can grow and develop over time. (i.e. growth mindset). According to renowned psychologist and author Daniel Goleman, “academic abilities do not predict how well we do in life. Grit, focus and cognitive control does.”

Carol Dweck, one of the most respected psychologists of our time and the author of ‘Mindset’, has shown that “test scores and measures of achievement tell you where a student is, but they don’t tell you where a student could end up.” When it comes to research on grit and its connection to success, UPENN Psychologist Angela Duckworth provides ample evidence in her best-selling book, “Grit”. She writes; “Grit is important because it is a driver of achievement and success, independent of and beyond what talent and intelligence contribute. ... Without grit, talent may be nothing more than unmet potential. (2016) Finally, when it comes to the power of positivity, former Harvard professor Shawn Achor has shown “that when people work with a positive mindset; performance on nearly every level—productivity, creativity, engagement—improves.’ (Harvard Business Review)

Further Reading

Harvard Business Review

“The Right Mindset for Success”

Harvard Business Review 2012 interview with Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck

Business Insider

“How Your Mindset Determines Your Success, Wellbeing and Your Love Life”

Drake Baer (2014)

"Why Grit and having a resilient mindset is the Key to Success"

Leah Fessler (2018)

Psychoogy Today

"What is the number one predictor of personal success?"

Lori Russell-Chapin Ph.D. (2017)

Success and Emotional Intelligence

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Emotional intelligence means being able to develop enduring relationships and interact with people in a positive way, by knowing how to manage your emotions and the emotions of others.

Emotional intelligence is therefore critical to building enduing relationships. Relationships serve three functions: They will help you overcome stress and adversity; they will determine your success in life based on the company you keep and the network you carry; and they will give meaning to your success by ensuring you have people to share it with. Here’s what the experts have to say:

“The higher you go up the (career) ladder the more emotional intelligence matters: for top leadership positions they are about 80 to 90 percent of distinguishing competences. It’s your expertise and intelligence that get you the job – but your emotional intelligence that makes you a success.”

– Daniel Goleman

According to research conducted by the Adler Group in 2016, “85% of all jobs are filled via networking,” or as your mother might say, “its not what you know, but who you know.”
“According to 2018 Linkedin survey, 57% of senior leaders say soft skills are more critical to their businesses than hard skills.” These include persuasion, collaboration, and adaptability. (All EQ related!)
“75 percent of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.”  – Center for Creative Leadership
Being in an open network – i.e. connected to people who think and act differently than you and come from different backgrounds is essential to success. “According to multiple, peer-reviewed studies, simply being in an open network instead of a closed one is the best predictor of career success.” (Michael Simmons interview with Top Network Scientist, Ron Burt)

Suggested Reading

Daniel Goleman

"What predicts success and its not your IQ"

Daniel Goleman, July 2014,


"The Number One Predictor of Career Success According to Network Science"

Michael Simmons, (2015)

Business Insider

"You probably won't find the skills most important to success on a résumé — here are 21 ways to build them"

Shana Lebowitz, (2018)


"Most Scholars Agree Emotional Intelligence is the Key to Productivity"

John Rampton, (2019)

Stress, Adversity & Success

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

– C.S. Lewis

In today’s world, stress is almost inevitable. Some stress is good, but too much stress will disrupt your performance, focus, creativity, and productivity. Among university students, for example, studies have shown that “stress is more likely to hurt grades than drinking or loss of sleep.” Similarly in the corporate sector, ‘workplace stress costs employers $300 billion a year’ ( due to sick days and lack of productivity.

Stress management and the ability to overcome adversity are critical skills for students and professionals. These skills aren’t developed in isolation however – and are connected to mindset, your social support network, and your habits and daily routines. Moreover, the more you encounter adversity; the better equipped you are to handle it and not get stressed over the small things.

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging.”

– Joseph Campbell

“There is no better teacher than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”

– Malcolm X

Suggested Reading

Harvard Graduate School of Education

"The Science of Adversity: Harvard Graduate School of Education"

Bari Walsh March 2015

The Star

“Student Stress More likely to hurt grades than drinking or loss of sleep”

The Star


"How Adversity Leads to Success"

Entrepreneur Magazine


"How Successful People Handle Stress"


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