Everyone is looking for an edge in business and professional advancement. Here we’ll discuss some characteristics of highly successful people. As this is a list, one might infer that the higher up a trait appears on the list, the more important it is. This is not the case! It’s as if a games site were to run an article about the best free online games. It’s a list, not a pecking order.
Be a People Person
Anyone who is in the least bit shy knows how difficult this is. The great author and psychologist, M. Scott Peck, in his monumental book, “The Road Less Taken”, spoke about how difficult it is to concentrate when another person is talking.
It’s hard work but it’s also possible to learn to do it better. Being a people person does not mean talking constantly. Even salespeople know when to stop talking so the customer or client can assimilate the information. A real people person knows almost exactly when to speak and when to listen. When speaking, they convey sincerity and when listening they convey caring and interest.
If you’re running a business, you need to maintain many fine lines. One is empathy. If an employee has a sick child at home he or she may have to come to work late or not at all. The boss who shows disfavor, quickly loses the respect of not only that employee but many others as well.
However, an employer is running a business for profit, so he or she cannot allow a free-for-all to develop in which employees stay home on trumped up excuses.
The skill is to find the fragile balance.
Willingness to Start Over
In business and in most professions, there will be criticism, failure, and the desire to give up. The ones who ultimately succeed get up, brush off the dust, and start over.
The Mars family started a chocolate company in their kitchen and went bankrupt. They stated again in their kitchen and went bankrupt again. The third time, however, they found the formula that has led to the Mars Candy Company and a few of the most widely sold chocolate bars in the world.
Sam Walton lost his lease to a small department store in a small town in a small state. He vowed never to lose his lease again, bought a store, and soon after opened the first Walmart in small-town in Arkansas in the US. He stuck to it.
Look Forward To Challenges
Most people don’t understand the existential meaning of the term “to look forward”. It means to look ahead; everyone knows that. What they don’t realize most often is that it also means that when they look ahead to something it makes them feel good!
This is the side where even if the cup is only one-quarter full, they are looking forward to the challenge. If an employer has this attitude, her or his employees will have it, too.
Being creative is one of the most difficult things anyone can do. For most people, this is a learned trait. The question is how do they learn it? The first step is to never accept a lack of creativity. Even if they have no idea how to do something, the creative person slows down and looks for new angles through which to perceive the problem. Thinking out of the box.
Another great book can demonstrate this phenomenon. Robert M. Pirsig, in his classic book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, wrote about the reality of “being stuck”. He described how people can get themselves out of a mental rut. As a teacher of writing, he developed some odd topics for his college students to write about such as the back of their thumb!
His feeling was that people who can look freshly at something as mundane as their thumb can look at any problem with fresh eyes.
A good way to develop a creative mindset is to brainstorm. Employers can have their employees brainstorm about many topics, not just those that most immediately impact the company. Another excellent way to develop a creative approach to things is to “play” challenging games such as Sudoku. As challenging as this game is, it is only one of many challenging games so you can play the ones you like the most.
Controlling One’s Emotions
The employer who screams all the time will also scream about trivial things. These employers soon lose employees and develop a reputation as unreasonable bosses. Keeping your cool is a big advantage when you face the inevitable business downturn or professional criticism. Ronald Reagan was a master of being able to stay calm in the face of opposition. He had a great sense of humor and used it to deflect awkward moments.
Perhaps the most famous one took place in 1986 when he was running for re-election as President of the United States. During a debate with his opponent, Reagan was asked if, as a man far into his septuagenarian years, he could stand up to the expected pressures being president entailed. He responded that he could stand up to the pressure and that he wouldn’t use age as a factor in the election—that he wouldn’t use his opponent’s youth as a reason to vote against him. He controlled his emotions and turned the question on its end.
Recognizing that we are Always at the Tip of an Iceberg
We never can stop learning from our experiences and from others if we want to achieve a high level of success. A Rabbi once said to his students, “You should know what you know and you should know what you don’t know.”
With that in mind we’ll end here knowing that this subject can be expanded ad infinitum.