Go ahead and Google the word, “success.” I did, and I got 1,060,000,000 results in 0.26 seconds. Here’s the dictionary definition of the word from the first link on the first page:
The favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals.
Okay. That seemed straightforward enough, so I didn’t feel it necessary to explore the next 1,059,999,999 entries. Saved a lot of time, there.
Then I Googled the words, “success quotes,” and I got an additional 141,000,000 results in 0.24 seconds. So I began reading some quotes about success that were uttered or written down by a lot of different people from many different cultures and different periods of time – from Confucius to Abraham Lincoln to Bill Gates. I found them all interesting, but not nearly as straightforward as the dictionary definition.
After awhile, it hit me. The fact is, I could spend the rest of my life reading about how other people define success and would probably never “succeed” at finding common ground. It seems that, regardless of what the dictionary says, the notion of what makes a person successful is pretty much subjective, and everybody seems to have his or her own idea about success, based upon his or her own life experiences.
And yet, I wondered, is it possible that there are some universal traits that every successful person embodies and exhibits; some qualities of temperament or ways of doing things that are more likely to ensure “success” than promote failure? Especially in the realm of business, are there common characteristics of belief or behavior that, if not every, at least most, successful professionals exemplify? I’m not sure, but, based on my research, the following list is probably worth considering. (Only, don’t quote me.)
General Attributes of Successful Business Professionals
Let’s begin with some general attributes before going into specifics about how to succeed in business. According to a broad consensus, the following characteristics tend to be shared by many “successful” people, regardless of their role in life.
Successful people and professionals:
Have a dream
Successful people generally believe in something passionately. They have an abiding desire to accomplish some specific goal and that desire, at some point, takes over their mental and emotional lives. Nothing is as important to them as pursuing their dream and making it a reality.
Have a plan (and be follow through)
Successful people think long and hard about how they are going to follow their dream. They seek out the necessary knowledge and skills they will need to get where they want to go. They are methodical and persistent.
Be willing to work hard
Successful people have an ambition that drives them to their goal and they are not afraid of the hard work it will take to get there. They will burn the midnight oil night after night, if necessary.
Have a winning attitude
Successful people don’t allow themselves to be disheartened. They may fail over and over again, but they will always come up with a new way to achieve their dream and they are not daunted by setbacks or obstacles.
Don’t follow. Lead.
Successful people are not bound by what has been done before. They are willing to experiment, stick their necks out, if necessary, and they are not deterred by the gainsaying or negative criticism of others.
How to Succeed in Business (By Really Trying)
Now, let’s assume that, as a business professional, you share most, if not all, of the above characteristics. That suggests that you’re already on the path to success. But being successful in business is somewhat different than being successful, say, in sports, or the arts, or even as a parent or spouse. Yes, you have to have vision and drive; you need to have knowledge and training; and you need to work hard. Is there anything else? Try this list on for size:
Enjoy what you do
You’re not likely to succeed in business if you hate what you are doing. There’s no way to continually mask dislike for your chosen field of endeavor from your colleagues, customers or clients. You need to be enthusiastic and optimistic so that others pick up on your positive attitude. If you don’t really love your business, get out and find something else to do with your life.
While enjoying your business, you also need to take it seriously. You’re in it not just to make money and pass the time of day. You need to convey to everyone around you that what you’re doing is important, that you are honest and dependable, and that you will be in it for the long haul. In other words, you must always project a positive business image in all your professional dealings.
It doesn’t matter what business you’re in. If you can’t manage your money you’ll be out of business well before it succeeds. You will need to understand how to reconcile your income with your expenses from day one, and every day after that. And even if you’re not directly responsible for a business’ budget, you need to understand that you are still accountable for adding value to your organization rather than being a drain on its resources.
Your customers come first
Unless you put your customers and/or clients first, you won’t have any for long. They are ones who will ultimately decide whether or not you are successful in your chosen field. A business that is not consumer-centric will fail.
Surround yourself with success-oriented people
The best way for a business professional to ensure his or her success is to be part of a successful team. Very few, if any, successful business men or women have done it alone. While they may have been the leaders and driving force of their businesses, they have always had to rely on like-minded people who shared their goals and were willing to work hard to achieve them.
Master inter-personal skills
It’s axiomatic: people like to do business with people they like. You don’t have to take on a false personality in order to be successful. But you do have to master your communication skills. Learning to be an empathetic listener; being open-minded to the needs and ideas of others; being accessible to your colleagues and customers will all go a long in guaranteeing your success.
Be responsible and decisive
Successful business professionals take responsibility for their actions and are not afraid to make decisions. They don’t blame others for failure and they’re not risk-averse. Successful professionals take the initiative and when things go awry, they take the responsibility and move on.
The bottom line is this: there are infinite ways in which to define success in the professional and business world. The above list is merely the beginning. So, let me just end with one particular quote that I found worth repeating here. It comes from Arnold H. Glasgow, an American author, born in Fond-du-lac, Wisconsin in 1905: “Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.” Got it? Good. Now go out and succeed.