A Little Happier: My Former Roommate’s Ex-Boyfriend’s Lesson in How to Be Successful.

As I think back on the great advice I’ve received over the years, I’m surprised to realize that some of the best advice came from very random sources — books I skimmed, people I hardly knew.

Like my former law-school roommate’s ex-boyfriend’s advice. It has guided me for years — and I never even met the guy! And yet I’ve thought about his advice so many times: “Successful people are willing to do things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do.”

What do you think of that advice — do you agree?

And have you ever picked up important advice from an unlikely source?

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  • Ann-Linn Diamond Glaser

    I have recently had an interesting response by friends and family when I talk about being an obliger and what it means. I am a person of strong opinions and take good care of myself as well as others, but when I say I am an obliger people kind of laugh at that sometimes. I have explained that that means that it is easier for me to make some change in my life when I have outside accountability. The term obliger sounds as if I always go with what others want and I try to oblige them and that is not me. How do I reconcile that? I absolutely know that Obliger is my category but I feel uncomfortable when I share that with others.

    • Mimi Gregor

      I, too, must admit that when I hear the term “Obliger”, I think “doormat”. I think that it has to do with the word rather than the tendencies of the people who belong to that category. Perhaps instead of calling yourself an Obliger to others — which they will misinterpret — you might tell them that you do better with outer accountability. It may be more wordy, but they may understand it better.

      • gretchenrubin

        Remember that prominent Obligers include people like Andre Agassi, Tiger Woods, William Shawn, Richard Simmons…I think Katniss Everdeen, though I need to re-read Hunger Games!

        Gretchen Rubin

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        • Mimi Gregor

          I think, however, that when a person is a Questioner or a Rebel, they can use that term with people who are unfamiliar with the Four Tendencies and have no problem with being understood. The terms are pretty self-explanatory. With Obligers and Upholders, however, the terms are not self-explanatory, so people may need to clarify what they mean when they call themselves by these terms, otherwise risk being misunderstood.

  • shaadi magic

    Wow, the way the article is written is quite impressive. I have read multiple posts on your site and all the posts are really helpful. Keep up the great work

  • redmists

    I definitely do agree. I think successful people always have some sort of method or characteristic that the unsuccessful or the average just doesn’t have. Resilience is one. The willingness to get out of their comfort zone is another. Of course I think the “willingness to do anything” goes both ways – some wouldn’t mind venturing to the “darker side” just to see abit of success.

    And I’ve ALWAYS picked up useful advice from really random sources. They have NEVER been from friends or family. It’s usually a complete stranger, an acquaintance or someone i only talk to, like, a couple of times a year. I always found this interesting – how people who are the closest to you aren’t usually the ones offering up resources to you – be it in terms of jobs, connections, advice etc. It’s usually acquaintances who do so. I think there’s a sociological/psychological theory around this – social networks something. I can’t remember the name right now.