11 Popular Idioms To Talk About Your Success

Talking about small wins and big success is part of typical business conversations due to different purposes. It can be to update others about your progress or show your reliability to influence in your industry. It can also impress your conversation partner during negotiation or simply flex your track record. Whatever is your reason, success is worthy of being talked about because it’s the product of your effort.  Moreover, engaging in conversation about other people’s success shows your support and encouragement to them. To speak about success without sounding overweening, it is helpful to learn the correct expressions that you can use. Take a look at our list of success-related idioms to know more about where and how to use them.

1. Dress for success

Dressing smart gives you the confidence to face people. When you dress well, you feel good, and feeling good can influence how you work and connect with people in your workplace. Notice that when you feel good, everything seems more manageable, and you perform better. Plus, people respect you more when you dress smartly. This also allows you to maintain a more pleasing image, making your colleagues interested in being friends with you.

If you want to give advice to people who will have a  job interview, a proposal, or a business meeting, you can tell them to “dress for success.” It means to dress nicely in style, so others can perceive you to be successful or confident that you are on the way to be successful.

Example: The manager instantly recognized the new employee because she always dresses for success.

2. It’s in the bag

Being confident about winning or being successful before it happens is possible when you have given the right offer, done the proper preparation, and have connected with the right and interested people. You are assured that you will be chosen, or your request will be granted because you have shown how beneficial your offer is to your target audience. Plus, you might have convinced them that it is the best choice available in the market that suits their needs and preference.

When updating your team about the progress of your proposal but have not yet officially closed the deal, say, “it’s in the bag.” This means that you are confident because it’s evident that you will achieve your desired results.

Example: The marketing manager told the trainee to relax because the approval to promote him as a regular employee and marketing officer is in the bag.

3. The sweet smell of success

For all the effort, time, money, and hard work that successful people put forth in their work, it is natural for them to desire to enjoy what they have worked for. The rewards of their success could be luxury, recognition, fame, money, or power.  So when a person wants either any or all of this and feels fulfilled, it means they have achieved their goals or desired degree of success.

To talk about the feeling of being successful, use the expression “the sweet smell of success.” This describes the euphoric feeling of being victorious in achieving something.

Example: After working for 10 years in the company, my immediate supervisor now enjoys the sweet smell of success. He now owns two houses, two cars, a successful career, and he gets to travel four times a year.

4. To pass with flying colors

Doing enough enables you to complete your task; doing it well will make your work exceptional. Plus, you’ll be recognized for what you do. Typically, most of us only give what is expected of us to perform our job. But some have extra effort to complete their task correctly. This results in a good output, which makes the doer stand out among the rest.

If you want to say that someone has completed something and passed with distinction, use “with flying colors.” This expression is often spoken when someone has become successful in examinations or training. Alternatively, you can use “come off” instead of “pass” for this idiom.

Example: Our in-house designer is well-known in the fashion industry. After training for three years in a famous fashion designing school abroad, she passed with flying colors.

5. Key to success

Accomplished people are often asked about their strategy to be successful. People are curious whether they followed a specific guide, advice, tools, or connected with an influential person to be successful. People want to know about their ticket to success to see if it’s implementable in their situation. If it is, then they’ll adapt it with the hope of opening the doors to opportunities.

If you want to ask someone what is the most crucial factor that led them to achieve what they have, use the “key to success” in your message.

Example: The CEO has shared that his keys to success are being a people person, being friends with the right people, communicating well with them, and having a diligent work ethic.

6. Third time’s a charm

Tried several attempts but have consistently failed? It happens. It’s normal for people to experience it. Some would give up easily, but motivated people who have grit and are willing to take chances would be eager to try again. It doesn’t matter to them, even if it means repeatedly trying it.

The third time’s a charm is an expression being used when your first two efforts have already failed but hoped that you might be successful the third time. This is often used when you want to encourage someone to not give up, but instead, try once more.

Example: The manager encouraged the secretary to convince the head of the Marketing department to accept the proposal. She told her that he might take it this time because the third time’s a charm.

7. Bear fruit

The measure of success is commonly based on the good results produced out of your effort. This could mean gaining more profits, sustaining a good partnership, or getting big deals. It could also mean thriving even after surpassing a difficult time. With hard work and effective strategy, achieving a favorable outcome is possible.

If you want to say that the effort, time, or money that you invested into something yielded positive results, use the expression “bear fruit.”

Example: We’ve been working on this project for a year now, but we have just started to see our effort to bear fruit three months ago.

8. A recipe for success

Newbies and even those still finding the right game plan do trial and error to know what works. Successful individuals, however, have a set of methods that have already been tried and tested and just repeat them to achieve their desired results. They may tweak it a bit depending on the need to make it adaptable to the trend. That’s why it is essential that any person who wants to be successful has to find an effective strategy for their situation.

“A recipe for success” is a suited expression if you want to ask an accomplished person about the set of methods they use to succeed. This could be an activity or manner of doing something.

Example: Her recipe for success is keeping a work-life balance and trying to destress to avoid burnout when everything gets tough at work.

9. To have an overnight success

Success may come at different times or different stages of the journey to different people. It could take a long time before they can enjoy the fruits of their labor, while it could be quicker for others. Having all the required factors to succeed, such as the right timing, right people, and the right product, will enable you to achieve your goal the soonest possible.

To describe a kind of success that happened very fast, you can use the term “overnight success.” This expression has the word overnight, which associates it with a task being done unnoticeably because it was completed quickly while you were sleeping. Its practical meaning, of course, doesn’t mean that your victory just happened in one night. It means it happened the fastest amount of time possible compared to others.

Example: The overnight success for our product has been made possible because it has been given the right exposure. Many people from the media visited our launch event and have penned good reviews about the product.

10. To have the golden touch

Some people are naturally good that they quickly excel in any endeavor they choose. They are good at doing business and earning a large amount of money. Some of them are good because of their experience, exposure, and connections. While others are so familiar with a particular industry and have mastered the required skills and strategies. Knowing what works and what does not allows them to handle any project related to their expertise to succeed.

When you want to describe a person who has been victorious in whatever they do, use the expression “have the golden touch.”

Example: Our president was impressed with our marketing manager because he could turn any product into best sellers.

11. The golden ticket

Given the right opportunity, success is always possible. To some, opportunities are provided as a reward for their hard work. For others, it’s because they have the proper qualification or have a proven accomplishment. While for some, it’s because they have a connection to an influential person that can provide lucrative opportunities.

Use the expression “gold-colored ticket” if you want to refer to something valuable or desirable that gives you a chance to obtain or enjoy access to something that would allow you to be successful.

Example: Her creativity is her golden ticket to get into the world of the fashion industry.


Don’t be shy to talk about your success. Speaking about it is healthy and does not only mean showing off your ability or achievement. It reflects how hard work and positive thinking pays. It also can inspire others to do better to find their own success. Just remember, though, to be tactful when talking about your success. Also, use the proper expression that fits the situation to make it effective.


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Kaycie Gayle is a freelance content writer and a digital publisher. Her writings are mostly about, travel, culture, people, food, and communication.