I used to ask myself that question when I was younger (sometimes; I wasn’t particularly interested). The question was also asked, "If I’m so smart, why aren’t I successful?" I’d ask that question about my grades. Over the past few months, I’ve learned that intelligence (or talent, or creativity, etc) is only part of the equation to success. The other parts of the equation (I believe) are:
Successful people tend to have a vision that inspires them, motivates them and drives them. Howard Shultz (CEO of Starbucks) had the vision of a national chain of coffee stores that sold the highest quality coffee, and with strong principles. Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft) wanted to put a computer in every home. It requires courage to create a vision like that, but it’s a key ingredient in successful people.
You need to have courage to go towards the vision. Success is sometimes (or often) means you have to battle against other people’s negativity. If you feel "battle" is too strong a word, come up with a crazy plan and talk to average people about it. And by "crazy" I mean, ambitious, or unimaginable but something that other people have done. People will tell you you can’t. You don’t actually have to want it. Consider saying you wanna try polyphasic sleep (check stevepavlina.com or wikipedia.com).
Self-discipline includes hard work. The discipline to do what you have to go towards your vision, is important. Many writers recommend writing daily. That requires self-discipline. There’s many other examples. Ask yourself, how could I apply self-discipline in my life to improve the quality of it? For example, I wake up at 8:30 every morning, including weekends. To some people, that sounds like a sacrifice or even impossible. But, try it for 30 days and get back to me. I’ve found a huge amount of energy by getting up at the same time every day. Disciplined diet and exercise also improve your energy and motivation.
More info here.
Success is like anything else that can be learned. Some people seem to have a talent for it, but recently a study proved that there’s no such thing as talent. People who seem to have talent, really only work harder, and do one important thing. It’s called deliberate practice. That means to work on and practice the things you’re NOT good at. When people "practice", many times they’re focusing on things they’re ok at or good at, rather than the stuff they’re terrible at. I have a theory, that really successful people continually try to improve themselves. Arguably, this desire to improve yourself (self-improvement) is the most important trait of successful people, because it leads to the other traits.