7 Rare Signs You Can Make To The Apex Of Any Career

If these signs ring true, you can reach the career summit.

woman in pants suit Olha Yefimova/ Shutterstock

"Trust me. You’ll regret it for the rest of your life," said my friend. And deep down, I knew he was right.

I did a trek to Roopkund — the skeleton lake — 5 years ago. However, the night before we were supposed to go to the summit, I was totally spent. Broken. I decided that I’m not going to complete the trek. I told my friend to go on with the group, and I’ll wait back with others who also decided to quit.


But he told me I’d regret it. After a lot of talking into it, I finally said yes. The next day, we woke up at 4 AM. I swear it was so cold that I remember thinking that my pee would turn into ice the minute it came out.

"I cannot do this," I thought to myself.

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But I was up. And my friend won’t let me quit. So we went on. Upon reaching the summit, I saw the lake. My friend and I screamed to the top of our voices due to the joy of reaching the summit. And we felt as alive as one could feel.


That’s what you feel when you’re there. And the same goes for anything else you do in life. You don’t have to be the "Number 1" at what you do. However, if you don’t strive to get to the apex of your career, the summit of your vocation — you’re missing out on something remarkable.

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Here are 7 rare signs you can make it to the apex of your career:

1. You know what happens when you go deep

Many people are stuck in shallow waters for two reasons.

  • They don’t put in the work to go deep enough and hence are stuck in shallow waters of the same pool forever.
  • They have shiny object syndrome. They’re excited when things are new. However, they quit the minute it gets boring for them. So they keep transferring from the shallow waters of one pool to another — but never go to the deeper end.

And hence, these people feel that their career or field is boring. That's crap. The way human knowledge has progressed, if you go deep enough, everything is so interesting. And when it gets interesting, you’re excited to learn — and that makes it easier to make it to the top.


Hence, a sign you can make it to the apex of any field is that you understand that everything can be ridiculously exciting if you invest the time and energy to go deep enough.

2. You know the psychological winning formula to get you closer to the apex

It’s called the "Push-Pull-Momentum" rule.

  • Push: You can be proud of how far you’ve come all you want. However, you also have to have a certain level of dissatisfaction and dislike for where you are right now. This pushes you to move upward. Because if you’re overly satisfied with your current competence, it’s going to be difficult to move upwards.
  • Pull: You have to constantly remind yourself of the rewards that will come from reaching the apex. This pulls you upward.
  • Momentum: You have to develop consistency and show up every day. Put in the work daily — less at first, and increasingly more later until you reach the necessary amount. Remember, consistency is always better than intensity. And consistency + intensity is unbeatable.

If you have all three of these boxes checked, it’s a sign that you can make it to the apex.

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3. You realize the truth about competition

When you look at the numbers, the competition always looks fierce. But remember, enrolling in something doesn’t actually mean that they’re part of the competition.

For instance, if 10,000 people sign up for an entrance exam, only about 1000 might be preparing seriously. Or if there are one lakh writers on any platform, only about 5000 are going to keep writing consistently long enough for them to be considered "competition."

Hence, to beat the competition, you simply have to keep showing up long enough for others to get bored or frustrated enough to quit. Because rest assured, they will quit. That’s what people do. Harsh, but true.

4. You have a strong "Why"

Why do you want to reach the apex?


Newsflash: you’re not going to reach the apex as a fluke. Unless and until you have a reason, it’s impossible for you to make the climb. In fact, even if you have a reason, it’s still difficult to make it to the top.

A sign that you can reach the apex of any career is that you have a solid reason to do so. And that reason can be anything.

  • For some, it can be ego: these people just want to be at the top to stroke their egos. It’s helpful but can be damaging as well. However, I will say this: Even though too much ego is bad, it should definitely play some role in your climb.
  • Unquenchable curiosity: Some people value knowledge so much that they actually don’t want to stop learning until they have learned as much as anyone else in the world can. They want to join the apex to learn from the best.
  • To experience: For me, it’s all about experiences. I want to be a truly great writer at the apex of this field because writing makes me feel alive. And I want to experience it at the highest level.

5. You know the secret to the fastest & most effective learning

I’ve seen this to be the case in almost every extraordinary learner I’ve studied. They complement the two ways of learning —

  • They learn from the experience of others. They exhaustively read books, listen to podcasts, and buy courses from the best in the field. Most people are biased to not pay to learn because nobody wants to pay. To counter this, I’m trying to bias myself to pay for courses. The worst that’ll happen is I’ll lose some money.
  • They learn from their own experience by maximizing the amount of experience they can get. For example, here’s how Dan Bilzerian said he learned poker: "The poker books and self-help courses will never tell you this, but the first step toward succeeding at anything depends on finding a way to cram the most experience into the shortest period of time. I would play ten online tables at once, seeing around one hundred hands per hour at each table. So, by playing fourteen hours a day, I looked at roughly fourteen thousand hands each day. It wasn’t long before I’d seen more hands online than what even the most obsessive live players saw in a lifetime."

Most people skip both.


They try to learn everything themselves and don’t buy books or courses. And they’re slow and inconsistent in gaining enough experience for themselves. But not you. You prioritize and ace both. And that’s a sign that you can reach the apex of any career.

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6. You know you have to pay your dues

When I first started writing, I was devastated when my first article was rejected. And I was even more devasted when my second one was rejected. And so on… On the night after having my fourth article rejected in a row, while I was contemplating quitting, I realized something.

I realized that sooner or later, one of my articles is going to get accepted. But before that, I have to get the rejections out of the way. So I decided for myself "A Failure Number" which was 10. I told myself that my first 10 articles are going to get rejected, but the 11th one? That’s going to get accepted no matter what.


When I did this, I realized that failure is not a lack of success. It’s a prerequisite to success. And hence, when my fifth article got rejected, I was actually happy — knowing that I got one step closer. In fact, I was closer than I realized because my sixth article did get accepted in a publication — and I was in business.

Most people want to get it right the first time. Or the second time. If they don’t, they quit. But not you. You know that you have to pay your dues. You know you have to fail a given number of times before you reach the apex. And you’re not afraid of failing because you realize how important it is to consider failure as success’s prerequisite, not its opposite.

7. You focus on developing rare skills

Making it big has nothing to do with hard work. People who do manual labor work harder than anyone else, however, they’re not successful — by any definition of the word.


Success today is defined by what and how many things you can do, that many others cannot. Any given career or field is simply an aggregation of thousands of skills. Nobody can learn all those skills — hence, which skills you focus on matters.

A sign that you can make it to the apex of your field is that you’re drawn towards working on skills that are rare. And it makes sense because if you have skills that others don’t, everyone’s gonna need you at some point or another — and that propels you towards the apex.

Here are seven ways to make it to the top of any career you choose:

  • At the depth, all fields are super exciting. Hence, take the time to dive deep and you’ll fall in love with what you do.
  • Use the "Push-pull-momentum" model to propel you toward the apex.
  • Beat the competition by showing up consistently for long enough.
  • Have a solid reason for making the climb.
  • Learn from the experiences of both: the best in your field, and your own.
  • Pay your dues. Get the failures out of the way.
  • Focus on developing rare skills.

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Akshad Singi, M.D. has been published in Better Humans, Mind Cafe, and more.