To be successful is to accomplish something you set out to achieve - whatever that may be. For some people, that's climbing Everest or winning an Olympic gold medal. For most people in the world it's about getting a job you enjoy and supporting your family. Both are equally noble goals. By definition, very few people will reach the top of their chosen pursuit or career. But we can all improve. The truth is that there really is no limit on human potential - everyone has the capacity to learn and grow, and when taken to the extremes, to achieve truly extraordinary things.
But what does it really take to succeed? Why do some people and teams become world-leading time and time again where others fail? Is it simply motivation? Tennis legend Roger Federer doesn’t think so. Is it just hard work and dedication? Oscar winner Julia Roberts says this is far too simple. Is it just resilience or ’grit’? Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes thinks not. Self-confidence then? Bear Grylls says ‘no’ to that as well.
What it takes to succeed at the highest levels is rarely understood, but as we have demonstrated, it is identifiable, codifiable and learnable.
X. The secret sauce. The transcendent quality. The defining mystical success factor that differentiates the best of the best. It's too easy to believe that some people are just born with some genetic disposition to high performance. To the contrary, evidence has shown that outside of genetic factors impacting physical size and strength, this simply isn't true. In the right environment, we can all become high performers with the right skills, knowledge, attitudes and relationships.
To help us understand what it really takes to succeed, we interview the world's most inspiring and iconic people. With almost one million words of interviews transcribed and analysed to date, combined with years of in-depth research and input from academics and educators, we have developed the 'X model' to show the success factors and personal attributes we typically see in high performers. This model forms the foundation of all of our education and leadership development programmes to help people become more proficient in each.
Dame Kelly Holmes, Became a double Olympic gold medallist
To inspire and equip a generation, you need to share the real stories of those who have succeeded. We interview the world’s most inspirational and iconic people to demystify what it takes to succeed and to help people build the skills and confidence to excel. We've interviewed Presidents, Nobel Peace Prize winners, Olympic gold medallists, CEOs, Oscar winners, astronauts, humanitarians, sports icons and adventurers, creating films with some of the most well-known people in history. But that's not enough.
Our aim is to understand what it takes to succeed and to provide actionable insights to others. We also interview many people that are not well known. People who have achieved truly extraordinary things, despite having a tough start to life. People who were homeless. Sexually abused. Grew up in care. Were in jail. It is often these stories where we can learn the greatest lessons.
Our aim is to tell real stories. Not the curated fiction we see on social media, but the authentic stories that change the way people think about their own potential.
Our interviewees are not perfect. None of us are. But where measurable, they are amongst the very best in the world at what they do and we believe they have valuable lessons to pass on to others.
Channing Tatum, Became one of Hollywood's most recognised actors
What it takes to succeed is far from simple. It's not solely down to individual performance and the relative importance of success factors varies by country and context. The external environment also plays a major role - living in a safe environment, the provision of education, having clear role models, the access to opportunities and jobs all play a part.
We aim to create a library of inspiring films and insights for the next generation and to deepen our understanding of what it takes to succeed. We plan to interview people all over the world from a variety of fields. So no matter what background you are from, you will have the opportunity to find someone you can relate to and learn from.