Seven Traits of Successful People: do I have what it takes

About a year ago, I was feeling very confused and apprehensive about my financial position and desired future. According to my diary, it took me about six months to admit to myself that I want to be wealthy; which now I share very calmly with all who wish to know. OK, probably with some who don’t want to know as well! So, there I was, having found that we are in financial trouble, feeling insecure…deep in thought checking my post box at the office. For my surprise, there was a big brown envelope; I am saying that this was a surprise because I had just given up a fairly senior management position and brown envelopes had become rarity. I opened the envelope and was completely spooked: inside was a black book by Stephanie J. Hale entitled Millionaire Women, Millionaire You.

The book consists of a number of interviews with women who have started very successful businesses – women who have built businesses worth a fortune. In some cases it took decades, in other cases it took five years or even less. Some of these women had businesses that failed and built another one. Reading the book, I noticed that there are seven traits these women share; thinking of it, all successful people, whether in business, arts, sport or generally life, share. These are:

  1. All are absolutely determined to succeed – they don’t dabble in things; they are in neck high and ready to swim or sink.
  2. All of them are open-minded, flexible and eager to learn.
  3. All are not afraid of failure – in fact they considered failure to be a natural part of success.
  4. All these women did what they really love doing – in other words they first found their gifts, and then started thinking how they can make a living applying these gifts.
  5. They all had a dream – but action is what delivered the dream. They just kept going irrespective of what people said.
  6. They all developed the whole package – they have web-sites, training programmes, books.
  7. Oh, and they all worked very hard – but even more importantly, they worked very, very smart

This got me thinking about my self and my ambitions in life. I have achieved some, I have to admit, but my really big ambitions are filed in the backroom of my everyday existence and risk to become chapters in a large volume of ‘selected intentions’. So I decided to use these traits to focus my mind and see whether I really have what it takes.

Determination to succeed

Well, this one doesn’t look too good. I am a really determined person – but when it comes to the absolute focus really big success demands, I somehow find my self short. Thinking about it, there are three obstacles here:

  1. I have to learn to zero on what I really want and commit fully; what I find myself doing most of the time is dabbling in things, achieving a level of competence (sometimes rather high) but not getting to the mastery that opens doors.
  2. I have to learn to focus on what I want to achieve fully until I am there or it is clear that getting there is not an option. Now I can get distracted by other interests; this probably once again is about a level of commitment.
  3. I have to learn to see things to completion. I am naturally a very curious and creative person the downside of which is that I get easily bored. Often I don’t have the patience to see things to completion and to fruition.

Open mindedness, flexibility and learning

This is not too bad. I always appreciate a good, elegant argument; my thinking is flexible and learning is my lifetime mission. May be a bit more flexibility in action could be of use – regularly doing things that get me out of my comfort zone like doing a car boot sale, or asking for phone numbers.

Fear of failure

Probably the largest obstacle ever – fear of failure is paralysing. This needs loads of work but at least I am no exception. Most people fail because they are afraid of failure. It is easier to dream of future success than to face the disappointment of present failure. Rationally, we all know that ‘to double one’s rate of success one ought to double their rate of failure’. I recently told my ten year old son that ‘what matters is not whether you win or lose but what you do after that’.

The difficulty is that fear is not rational, fear is a feeling and even worse, fear of failure is mingled with other feelings: shame, insecurity, worthlessness. To get rid of the fear I am experimenting with the following:

  1. Downplaying the importance of the action. Most people will jump over an erect wooden stick but not over a sword. What is the difference? We jump exactly as high. Similar psychology applies to investments, starting a business or writing a bestseller.
  2. Focusing on consequences not feelings. What will happen if something fails? Can we take the risk and can we do something to offset it?
  3. Keeping a vision of success and how good it feels. Now this one is pretty obvious.

Do what you love and love what you do

Generally I love most things that I do. What I am puzzling over is that often what we do involves elements we love and ones that we dislike. How to get to love the things we dislike so that the things we love become possible?

Chris Guillebeau from The Art of Non-conformity promotes the ‘hell, yeah’ test. It is simple, really! What ensures that we love the things we do is our immediate reaction when we think about doing them. If it is ‘Hell, yeah’ then we should move full speed.

Act on your dream

This needs very serious attention. Most of my time during the last year was dedicated to learning to act on my dreams.

Working smart

I work hard; always have done. And my hard work pays off a bit but now and then I get overtaken by people who work nothing as hard as me and who, as I call it with derision ‘play games’. I don’t play games; I am ‘knock them down in the first round’ kind of girl. However, learning how to ‘play games’ and, more importantly, how to beat the game, is essential to any success. Watch this space!

Do I have what it takes? Not yet! Now I know which traits I should focus on so I am well on the way.

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