Over a ten-year period, educator Richard St. John interviewed more than 500 successful professionals, from astronauts to entrepreneurs, physicists to CEOs, to identify what he called "success factors."
The top three traits that emerged from his research? Passion, hard work and laser sharp focus.
Call it what you wish: enthusiastic, engaged, devoted, obsessed; you should be so in love with what you're doing that it drives you to put in the hard work required. It's the secret sauce that matters more than education or upbringing, who you know or how much money you have to launch your endeavor. To be successful, passion tops the list.
During my sessions with business executives over the years, I've noticed the following qualities emerge when a person loves the work they are doing.
They believe in their mission 110%.
They lead with an enthusiasm that is contagious to everyone around them. Others marvel at their effervescence and dedication. This energy fuels them to persist through difficulties and stay focused on their mission.
They are upbeat.
They are genuinely enjoying themselves, and understand the role that humor and warmth play in forging bonds with employees, clients and other stakeholders. They exude a spirit of fun that puts others at ease. They understand that people do business with people they like.
Their wheels are always turning.
They are continuously thinking of ways to improve. They have allotted space in their schedule to come up with new ideas, whether it's rising early in the morning or refreshing themselves with regular workouts. They certainly don't work around the clock, but jot down ideas or email themselves items to revisit when they get to the office later.
Communication is a priority.
Instead of wielding power by keeping others in the dark, they share information and value transparency and openness. Others know where they stand and what they can do to grow, which inspires action.
They set goals.
At any given moment, you could ask them what their daily, weekly, monthly or yearly goals are, and they'd have an answer for you. They monitor their progress regularly and keep a running list of priorities.
They are adaptable.
These individuals know that the world around them is constantly changing, so adapting is the way to survive. They avoid getting stuck in the rut of doing things a certain way because they have always been done that way.
They are curious.
They are passionate about learning new things and make the time to pursue knowledge. Always expanding their network of relationships to include new people, experiences and ideas, they look at life and work as an adventure.
They believe in themselves.
They have an unshakable confidence in what they are doing. This is a source of strength when difficult or unpopular decisions need to be made. They aren't closed-minded, instead doing their best to make informed choices. Ultimately, they trust their own judgment and hold themselves accountable for their actions.
They are incredibly observant.
Being thoughtful is second nature to them. No one would ever know it's something they've cultivated over the years. Their team is loyal to them, the company and its mission because they show interest in their staff members. They understand that details are important and remember names, birthdays or recent achievements.
They surround themselves with the best people.
Successful business professionals work with the most talented team they can find and don't worry that others will outshine them. They inspire loyalty among employees by recognizing their contributions and the value they add to the organization. They make an impact by making others feel as though their work makes a difference (because it does).
For more of my business etiquette tips, you may also like How to Kickstart Your Career Out of a Standstill.