Getting to the top requires different strategy than getting near the top. Sometimes, the strategy that works to get you near the top will hinder you from reaching the absolute top.

Some people acquire social status by kissing the ass of the people above them (while aiming secretly to bring the people above them down), pushing down on people below them (like a diver pushing down water with their feet to go to the surface), and playing zero sum social games with those beside them to acquire more status.

This strategy is good enough to get them near the top. If you look closely, you can see that many of the members of the second most popular group in a social setting (e.g. school) behave as such. Some of the member of the most popular group may also behave as such.

But will this strategy get them to the absolute top? Will this strategy makes them the most desirable and popular guy/girl? Usually, it won’t. And when it does, it usually just means the social setting have low population size. In fact, if you make such behavior a habit, it will be harder for you to change your strategy.

The most popular guy is the one who adopts the strategy of giving people value adroitly. When you give people value without being a pushover, people will like you. Sure, there’ll be some who still wish you to fall. But for one who wants to see you fall, there are at least five who want to see you rise. And when you have that much support, it is inevitable that you rise to the top.

Some people get near the top of his profession by working really hard. Think about the doctor or the engineer who, despite not liking his profession that much, works really hard to get good in their profession. The motivation for this hard work may be money, acknowledgement, or other thing.

This strategy of working hard will get them near the top. They’ll set a target and run as hard as they can toward it.

But will this strategy get them to the top of their profession? Well, if they work hard enough, they might be. But, if they do work that hard, will they be able to keep at it without burning out?

People who are at the top of their profession usually do it because of passion. They like what they do so much that they do it as much as they can. They don’t set a target and run toward it. Instead, they run because they love to and then they find themselves passing one milestones after another.

This strategy, given enough time, will make them rise to the top of their profession. People who work hard without having passion will only be able to get to the top if they work as hard as those who enjoy their work.