What makes someone successful?
I bet that regardless of your background, you could spill off a list of things very quickly.
How about good grades at university?
Maybe a strong, disciplined family background?
Or how about someone who had no choice but to learn resiliency at a young age?
Sure, a lot of these help considerably. They would likely have a significant impact on shaping positive character, a drive to win, and a sense of focus.
But today I want to focus on something that everyone can benefit from. Regardless of your background, income or privilege, there are things that each one of us can do to become more effective in what we do.
There are a lot of things successful people and leaders do that cost nothing and require zero talent.
Now I know this post is not as “financial” as you would expect, but it is important and impacts how you work, save, invest, run a business and develop your finances.
Want to know what makes the list? What are things you can do to be the better version of you (at no cost!)? Here you go!
1) Have a strong work ethic
This sounds pretty simple. But the idea of work ethic has many different layers, including, honesty, integrity, humility, and accountability, to name a few! It means you roll up your sleeves, and do your job the right way, the first time, no matter what it takes.
It should be a staple in every area of your life, not just your job. Don’t try to get by in life by doing the least amount of work as possible. Have a dedication to giving your best effort every day, in every area of your life.
Work hard, be consistent and be ready to tackle any task. This can even be applied at home when you need to clean the house or with your friends when they ask you for help with something.
I have a friend who works in technology. His focus, drive, and willingness to help is admirable. Whenever I have asked him for help troubleshooting this blog, he has been there for me. No questions asked.
Some days, your work ethic may be affected by the difficulties of life… but these days should be the exception! Take pride in what you do… whether it’s folding the laundry, running a big company or anything in between!
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2) Arrive on time (or better yet, early!)
Everyone’s time is valuable. No one wants to be kept waiting, or see a person walk into a meeting unprepared because they are late. This tip is easy to dismiss but so hard to do!
How often has traffic or “last minute” distractions caused you to be late? The first reaction for most people is frustration and stress.
Create time and space for the unplanned situations that you will encounter. They do and will happen!
Be five minutes early… ALWAYS! And if you’re traveling a distance for your appointment, increase it to 15 minutes. If you are “on time,” consider yourself as late.
By thinking of things in this way, you allow time to gather yourself and be less stressed. And a less stressed version of you will always be more prepared, presentable and polished.
We have all scrambled to get to an appointment or meet a friend, and when we arrive late, we are not our best self.
Create a new routine for yourself and see the impact that this has on your day. I’m sure you’ll see a difference on the impact it makes on you and others.
3) Act considerately
Many successful people are remembered and loved because they are considerate of others.
We are in such a rush these days that we don’t make eye contact with people and can barely remember the names of others.
At best we acknowledge them, and at worst we allow our own biases to take over how we treat different people.
When talking to others, be thoughtful of their feelings and show that you are listening.
To be honest, this took me a long time to learn (and I’m still working on it!) My mind has a way of racing quickly, and if not kept in check, I can easily find myself guiding the conversation instead of listening to someone else.
Instead, be an active listener. Be present and be engaged. A simple question goes a long way to show that you are listening to others and are genuinely interested.
4) Be coachable
A good mentor of mine often says, “I’m nothing if not coachable.” It shows that we’re all human and make mistakes. What’s important though is how quickly we learn from them.
It’s often hard to accept criticism, but if done correctly, it can be one of the best gifts someone gives you. Harnessed successfully, it can allow you to be a better version of yourself.
Try to keep an open mind when receiving feedback. Don’t be quick to get your back up, no matter how hard it can be! Even some of the harshest critics have something to offer if you can reveal the constructive side of it.
By making an effort to learn, you are showing that you are never too old or too stubborn to learn something new… it only benefits you in the end!
5) Arrive prepared
Always be prepared. This is something that I was taught early on, and it has served me well. Always have what you need BEFORE you need it.
Even if you’re a “wing-it” person (like me), you can still be prepared. Try to expect things before they happen. Not doing your prep work wastes time and creates unnecessary stress in your day.
There are tons of real-life examples for this. If you have an early meeting, get your clothes and lunch ready the night before so that you are not scrambling in the morning. If you have a job interview, think of what questions they may ask. Ahead of a client presentation, rehearse and anticipate what they might be thinking.
Being prepared on the front end saves you time and can differentiate you from many others.
6) Keep an open mind
Do you keep an open mind when dealing with something or is your mind already made up?
Successful people know that to be effective, you must keep an open mind. You need to be aware of any biases you have, and be open to listening to feedback from trusted sources.
There are many people with lots of good ideas out there. Not only that, some people have more experience than you do and can offer a different (and sometimes much needed) perspective.
No matter how senior or how experienced you may be, you can always learn something new. Keeping an open mind allows you to tap into that.
7) Show humility
Some of the best leaders are humble and respectful of others. Rather than having a “me-first” mentality or boasting of their strength, they’re unpretentious and open to self-improvement.
Having a sense of humility unites people and teams and brings out the best of others. It also differentiates a wise leader from an arrogant “power-seeker.”
One of the best ways to show humility is through “The Golden Rule”. Spoken by Jesus, it is possibly the best-known quote from the Bible: Do to others as you would have them do to you. There’s a lot of depth and meaning in just one sentence.
If we want to be respected, we must respect everyone else (even those it’s hard to!) If we wish to be fulfilled in our own lives, we need to be generous with others.
8) Be positive
Have you ever been part of a project and couldn’t stand the negative-Nancy in your group? Despite if the project’s on track or not, you’re almost guaranteed he/she will find a way to nit-pick.
That type of behavior helps no one.
Instead, be someone who’s positive and looks for an opportunity (despite the situation), can rally a team, get buy-in and make things happen!
Being positive requires a change in mindset. For some, it might not be a natural place. But it’s important to realize the power of positive thinking and work towards building that type of character. It will have a constructive impact on both you and those around you!
Think it through
- Which item on the list resonates most with you?
- What steps can you take to develop in that area?
- Which item on the list do you exemplify the most? Can you double-down and do more of it?
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