Everyone seeks success in some form.
For some it is focused on business while others are seeking it in their personal lives.
In our work, we spend an extraordinary amount of time working with leaders in all kinds of organizations—from solopreneurs to the leaders of billion-dollar companies—helping them realize the success they seek.
Some are working to recreate the success they experienced in the past while others are taking their first steps towards the success they’ve always wanted.
What Defines Successful People?
In that work, and complemented by the extensive research we undertake, we’ve found that six core themes or characteristics emerge among successful leaders.
We’ve summarized each of those characteristics and provided additional details for each along with practices that you can introduce into your life and business.
- Successful People Take Risks—No matter how you define success, it will elude you until you are ready to go beyond your limits. Very often, we remember successful people for the impact they made during their life. And regardless of the nature of the difference they made, it required them to take risks and, very often, challenge the norms of their time. Virtually every historical breakthrough—science, business, medicine, sports, art—required someone to take a risk and stop playing safe. But we’re not talking about thoughtless risk-taking here. There are three powerful questions that will help you gauge the risk you may be facing.
- Successful People Have Vision—We have yet to meet a leader who has been able to sustain their success without a clear vision of what exactly they are trying to accomplish. This is true regardless of the level of skill, education or training they may have. In fact, many of those powerful assets become stranded and leaders cannot reach their full potential because they have not taken the time to clearly define the dream they are pursuing. If you’re struggling to define your vision, then we encourage you to give this a good read as it provides some specific questions to get you started.
- Successful People Focus on Solutions—Every challenge presents a choice: will you focus on the problem or focus on the solution? This sounds deceptively simple but this is a subtle and powerful decision to make. Our minds can only focus on one thing at a time. Focusing on problems will amplify negative thoughts while focusing on solutions actively engages your mind in resolving the situation. Learning to focus on solutions as opposed to problems can transform both your life and your business.
- Successful People Make Things Happen—Fundamentally, successful people make things happen; not only because of the actions they take, but also because of how they inspire others to take action as well. There is the great expression “Nothing works unless you do”, and almost every conversation we have with successful leaders reinforces that. They consistently choose to take action and, as a result, create the success they’re looking for in their lives and business, as opposed to simply waiting for it.
- Successful People Go Above and Beyond—Extraordinary changes in our lives and businesses rarely happen on their own. Instead, they are the result of people exercising determination and discipline as they take extraordinary actions. Without a doubt, there is a price to be paid for success. There is a necessary diligence and passion that need to be brought to each task, no matter how seemingly unimportant that task may appear. In the depth of that passionate commitment to bringing their vision to life, successful leaders encounter opportunities more frequently.
- Successful People Embrace Change—You cannot escape change. You can resist it and try to avoid it but change will come. It is inevitable. The real question is what change will lead to. For successful people, whether change will lead to a positive or negative outcome is largely based on their attitude toward it. Don’t let the simplicity of that statement conceal the depth of that statement. Change always represents a disruption of some kind and in those moments, opportunities emerge that are not otherwise available. Maintaining true openness during change is a hallmark of a successful leader.
Where Are You Succeeding?
For each of us, there is usually an area in our life in which we’re succeeding. Even during the darkest, most difficult times you can find them. Perhaps it’s your determination. Maybe it’s your drive to keep making things happen. There’s always something.
We encourage you to keep building on that strength. Be sure to recognize what’s working and keep growing.
And how about the other areas? Can you see aspects of yourself that still need work? All of us do. Take the time to read further and understand how you can continue to grow and develop into the truest, most successful, version of yourself.