Over the past 30 years, I have had the privilege of interviewing hundreds of successful individuals from all walks of life. In this article, I will document and list some common characteristics, qualities and beliefs these individuals embraced so you can see how they compare to the ones you are using to guide your own life.
Not every successful individual embraced the following list, and those who did not seemed more uneasy or lacked peace about their lives. For example, even though some had been very successful in the business world, their personal lives were suffering.
I want to encourage each of you reading this: Do not put others—no matter how successful they appear to be—on a pedestal. Yes, you can admire and acknowledge their achievements, but that does not make them better than you or me.
Here’s why that is important: When I stopped “doing the pedestal thing,” I saw through their projected image and more clearly observed them for the people they really are—individuals like you and me. Everyone faces the same issues and challenges.
And yes, there are more than 10 characteristics, and some might argue for a different list of 10; regardless, here are the Top 10 Secrets of Success from individuals whom I respect and whom I have had the privilege of interviewing or meeting in person. Most of the points on the following list are simple, common-sense items, but not always commonly practiced.
Here are the Top 10 Secrets of Success
- Beliefs Clarification Successful people know exactly what they believe about the deepest parts of life. This is not just about values, but what they believe to be true about the meaning of life. Why are we (human beings) here? For what purpose? Is there really truth? How can you discern what is true and what is false? This is foundational, and without it, individuals will just wander in life or feel incomplete.
- Spiritual Values Almost without exception, the most successful people acknowledge that life is equally as spiritual in design as it is physical. Many defer their success to this single value—their spiritual foundations and belief system. And those who are most grounded in their spiritual values also appear to be the most at peace with themselves and others. They are not anxious or troubled by life’s challenges. This is linked to item #1 on the list.
- Purpose You are born with gifts, interests and talents. This group is totally clear about the answers in these four areas: 1) their personal purpose in life; 2) why they were created; 3) what energizes them and; 4) what motivates them. These are all internal factors. The individuals’ clarity of purpose fuels their passion for whatever they feel called to do. They never think of their work as a career, job or business but rather as a calling—one that cannot be avoided, denied or changed.
- High Self-Awareness, Self Mastery & Emotional Intelligence The latest research supports what most of my colleagues believe is critical to success. You not only have to know your self (both strengths and challenges), but you need to proactively use this awareness to manage yourself to live and be intentional—self-management or personal mastery. This mastery must apply to your interpersonal and communications skills.
- Open, Authentic & Humble The most successful people have no airs about them. They are as open about their struggles as they are about their successes; they want to share to help others. Being “plastic,” fake or closed has nothing to do with success.
- Focus and Persistence (Resilience) These successful individuals know that success requires focus and persistence. Everyone knows people who have the plan-of-the-week or even of the day. Long-term success is linked to the metaphor of training to be a marathon runner and knowing the race is not a sprint. They commit to a project for as long as it takes. They are not quitters. Recent research conducted on the most successful organizations confirms that statement.
- Integrity This value had to be listed separately because most are not only disappointed in the integrity seen in today’s news, they are disgusted by it. They want everybody to know the good guy does not finish last. If there is one value upheld to an obsession level, it is integrity. Why? They know that true long-term success is built on integrity, not the substance seen on the news or shallow TV shows.
- Clarity of Future (Having a Vision with Goals) Not only do they know what they stand for, but they know where they are going—in detail. And everybody supporting or surrounding them shares in the vision, as well. They do not keep their vision to themselves.
- Making a Positive Difference They understand the concept of creating a legacy and making a difference; for them, that concept is a significant driving force. They know and believe that their contribution will help others and humanity. This, more than money or success in itself, is important to these individuals. There is no judgment on what a person is doing; it does not matter. This is linked to the feeling of meaning, which is personal.
- Responsibility for Their Condition and Success Success and failure is a result, not a condition. Successful individuals take responsibility for their condition. They have little respect or patience for those who blame others or who want handouts to fix their condition. In fact, they believe that by blaming others, you increase the problem. Blaming is an excuse to delay resolution into the future, rather than looking at yourself now. (Note: They acknowledged there are some situations around the world in which slavery and dictatorships make it more difficult to break free from oppression.)
- Simply review each of the Top 10 Secrets of Success list. Reflect on how you are doing with each item.
- List each of the top 10 items; leave space to make your comments.
- Determine if you are following each of the 10 secrets.
- If yes, note on your list what you are doing to fulfill this item.
- If you are not following the secrets, identify what you have to change. For some, it will take work; for others, it is simply a choice you have to make, such as conducting yourself with integrity.
- Keep the top 10 list close by; review it and confirm that you are constantly moving toward operating with all 10 secrets positively in play.
- To help you with the clarity process, we recommend our book, The Quest For Purpose, plus the Personal Style Indicator and the Values Preference Indicator.
- Finally, just start where you can and share this list with your team and others you care for.
Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!