14 Characteristics of Successful People: How Do You Measure Up?

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The two articles below, "14 Characteristics of Successful People" and "How to Improve Your Writing By Making It Simpler," are from Michael Masterson's daily e-mail service, Early to Rise (ETR). If you don't already receive ETR but would like to, simply visit http://www.earlytorise.com/awai for a FREE 2-week trial membership.]

According to productivity expert Jeffrey J. Mayer, successful people have 14 traits in common. They:

  1. have a dream
  2. follow a plan
  3. have specific knowledge
  4. are willing to work hard
  5. don't take "no" for an answer
  6. are strongly motivated
  7. are focused
  8. learn how to get things done
  9. take responsibility for their actions
  10. look for solutions to problems
  11. make decisions
  12. are self-reliant
  13. cooperate with other people
  14. are enthusiastic

Some of these 14 traits overlap. And some are not essential. But, overall, I find Mayer's survey telling. Assigning one point to each of these traits, I gave myself a score of 11. I gave BB, my partner, the same score. JSN, my former partner, had a score of 12. And PR and AS, two very successful friends I work with, scored 10 and 9 respectively. Another good friend, who has never found success, scored 2.

What about you? What's your score?

Make a note of which traits you have and which you lack. Then, devise a plan for "improving" your character.

Start by acknowledging your strong points and promising yourself to improve them. Experience shows that you'll make more progress by improving your strengths than by correcting your weaknesses.

Focus on the most important traits. In my view, they are the following (which I've embellished a bit):

To become successful, you must …

  1. have a useful goal – one that benefits not only you but also others
  2. create a logical plan to achieve that goal
  3. work hard – at least 50 hours a week – following that plan
  4. focus on the most important tasks – and do them first
  5. learn whatever you need to know to complete your tasks
  6. always focus on solutions, not problems
  7. take responsibility for your actions
  8. while helping yourself, help others
  9. when you are ready to quit, work one more day

If you can do these nine things, you will surely succeed. And your success may be greater and come faster than you expect.

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Published: August 18, 2003

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