I’ve spent a lot of time with many successful entrepreneurs and CEOs and found that very successful people tend to have a pretty consistent combination of five traits.
If you lack any one of them, it doesn’t mean you won’t be successful–after all, there’s a multitude of ways one can arrive at success. But if you can identify with all of them, then I’m guaranteed to be looking at a person who’s already achieved or about to achieve great success.
Here are the five traits that all successful people have in common:
1. They are good at execution. Bright ideas are a dime a dozen. Not to belittle the creation process, but what makes a person successful is not so much the idea as whether he or she can carry that idea to fruition. Entrepreneurs tell me all the time not to worry about telling people your big ideas because 99 percent of the time, nobody will execute on them. Why is this country full of wannabe entrepreneurs? Because, most of the time, people like to daydream about their big business idea–very few are actually willing to put the sweat equity into making it happen.
2. They have a chip on their shoulder. This may sound negative. It doesn’t have to be. I know many warm, engaging, optimistic entrepreneurs who are partly motivated by a common chip on their shoulders–the need to prove someone or something wrong. In its simplest terms, it’s turning the proverbial lemon into lemonade. Many entrepreneurs tell me they achieved great things because they were told what they were doing was dumb or never going to work (hello, Jeff Bezos!). Others pointed to things like growing up poor or as outsiders as motivators in wanting to excel.
3. They are good decision makers. Teresa Taylor, the former chief operating officer at Qwest Communications and once one of the highest paid female executives in America, said one of the reasons why she was successful was because she could make decisions fast. She joked that if the decision was in “grenade-range” of the correct one then she felt pretty good. I noticed this a lot with chief executives and entrepreneurs–many of them make decisions quickly and move on. A good number of us will hem and haw over the right move without realizing time is quickly moving on. Not every decision will be the right one, but if you’re moving quickly, you’ll have a better chance of rectifying a bad decision than if you missed your chance entirely.
4. They give a lot. I’m not talking about giving money, though there are plenty of successful people who give away plenty of money. Successful people tend to think a lot about others–how they can help people around them; what they can do to give their clients, customers, employees more; what they can do to enhance the lives of those around them. Givers get an immense amount of satisfaction knowing they’re elevating the people around them–it makes them feel good. This doesn’t mean every successful person who gives is a jolly Santa Claus–it just means that their focus is often outside of themselves, which goes a long way in business, where relationships count.5. They’re highly disciplined. There’s a photo a friend of mine sent me once (it’s on my Instagram account) of a ballerina’s feet. Her right foot is wrapped and slippered; her left is bare, showing all her cuts, bruises, and twisted toes. The image is a jolting reminder that to achieve anything, you need to work hard at it–very hard. That requires an immense amount of focus and discipline, especially in the face of hardship. This doesn’t mean successful people don’t have fun or can’t relax–quite the contrary, I find many indulge in quirky hobbies or sports and still get to spend time with their families. It just means that once successful people lock on a goal, they are relentless in achieving it.
Do you possess any of these traits? The good news is, if you’re a regular reader of this site, you can probably identify with at least one of these traits. The others can be learned or honed. Keep these in mind as you build and grow to your full potential.