Monday, April 22, 2024

These Are the Five Attributes of Highly Successful and Happy People

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During my 21 years in corporate America, I spent thousands of hours observing others. Now, as a coach and consultant, I often get asked what attributes I value most in people — and these five stand out. If you’re looking to achieve new levels of happiness of success this year, consider how well you embody the following five attributes. Not only do they drive success in leadership, but they drive success in life.

1. Vision

Humans have a gift that no other living organism has: the power of imagination. Successful, happy people use this gift. They imagine a compelling and different future than the present, and they believe in their ability to create and shape it. They don’t reactively accept the status quo or things they don’t like. Instead, they work hard to improve the world around them.

They recognize that they have agency and can proactively alter their surroundings and environment. They never say things like: “That’s just the way it is” or “We’ve always done it that way.” Instead, they imagine their desired or ideal state and then compare that vision to their actual state. If they identify a gap, they immediately begin devising possible solutions that will close that gap. Then, they get to work in employing and experimenting with those. People like this show us that anything is possible, and they’re fun to be around because they tend to inspire us to do the same.

Related: There Are 6 Types of Great Leaders — Which One Do You Fall Into?

2. Passion

We all have unique gifts and talents that excite us tremendously. Time flies when we use them. We tend to be better at them than our counterparts. They come more naturally and easily to us than others. Thus, we’re able to hone and improve our skills at a rate faster than our peers. Doing these things feels more like play than work, and we can hardly believe that someone pays us to do them.

Life is too short not to invest in yourself. We’re most successful and happy when we identify what unique gifts and talents we have, and take the time to practice them. Not only does this help us feel fulfillment and joy, it allows us to best serve society. Many individuals experience burnout, anxiety and depression because they spend 40 hours or more a week not doing what they love. When we engage in activities that energize us (instead of things that drain us of energy), we’re not only happier, but we’re healthier.

I’ve had a few jobs I didn’t like and my life suffered while I had them. I felt drained of energy when I arrived home. I struggled to find the motivation to exercise and pursue personal hobbies. I gained weight and lost touch with friends. When I got back to a job I loved, all this changed. I became a marathon runner, reconnected with friends and pursued personal hobbies like photography, scrapbooking and writing. Focusing on what we’re passionate about is incredibly important.

3. Courage

Fear is a powerful motivator. Research shows that our brains all have a subconscious component that works to protect us and keep us safe. Many of us hold back and live life with the brakes on because we’re afraid of change and trying new things. We have a fear of being uncomfortable, making mistakes, failing or facing judgment from others. Courage sets us free.

As Franklin Roosevelt said, “Courage is not an absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Courage allows us to speak our minds in the board room, express our true opinions, suggest unconventional courses of action and go against the status quo. This is what allows us to progress, develop and innovate.

It can be scary to speak up. But, it’s important. The right people will value your bravery; not squash it. Having the courage to be vulnerable, authentic and transparent gives other people permission to do the same thing. Going against the grain and inciting real, honest dialogues when others can’t or won’t usually doesn’t hold you back, but helps you progress, especially if you’re in the right environment.

Related: Why Successful People Never Second-Guess Themselves — and 5 Strategies to Help You Get Rid of Indecision

4. Compassion

When we empathetically hold space for others, we free them from their own fears and worries. Compassion allows us to create a safe space for others to be themselves, and that’s when people are most able to contribute in a meaningful way. Our spouses, families, and friends aren’t the only ones who appreciate compassion. Our employees do, too. When others feel valued, appreciated and seen, they give us their all. They do their best work and deliver their best ideas, which is what helps us move forward.

Over the years, numerous employees have thanked me for being so kind and understanding. They’ve told me how enjoyable it is to come to work when they have a boss or colleague who truly cares about them. Sadly, compassionate leaders are somewhat rare. If you’re one of them, you stand out and this breeds a tremendous amount of loyalty and respect. When people respect you, they’re more willing to push through challenges and find solutions for you, which means you’ll get better results.

5. Accountability

It’s amazing how much traction you create in life when you keep your word. The most successful people I know always do the things they said they’d do. They regularly keep their commitments, including the ones they make to themselves. Over time, people notice. This breeds a great deal of trust. When you take responsibility for both your behaviors and the results, you’ll work harder to find solutions in the toughest of circumstances. When the buck stops with you, and you don’t blame others for your problems, you save a tremendous amount of time.

Most people spend an inordinate amount of time finding scapegoats and assigning fault to anyone but themselves. This behavior prevents us from getting better. People who are truly accountable stay focused on their circle of control, not their circle of concern. Therein, lies all the difference. Whether you’re leading others or just leading yourself, accountability is what makes progress possible.

Related: The Super Successful Have These 5 Attributes

Practice these five attributes and your life is bound to improve. If you haven’t been doing one or more of these things and start now, you’ll be shocked at how quickly others around will notice and appreciate the changes. This holds true for your personal and professional relationships.



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