If there's a consensus about the secret to being successful, it appears to be that there is no secret to being successful. The great and good, when consulted about the reasons for their own success, however, often set out behaviours which they believe are common to those who stand out in any given function, whether it be commerce, politics, sport or the liberal professions.
Industriousness is arguably the most obvious trait of the successful. Colin Powell, former American statesman and military leader, is quoted as having said that there really is no magic "just add X to Y" formula for success and that it is the reward of much hard work, preparedness and a willingness to learn from mistakes. In other words, people are seldom - if ever - parachuted into great jobs with commensurately impressive remuneration, and will only reach that pinnacle after many years of what can only be described as intense slog.
In a sense, "positivity" is a simply a convenient label for a cluster of behaviours. Certainly, successful individuals have an upbeat and optimistic belief in their own ability to accomplish their goals and, crucially, they won't let the occasional misstep dent this confidence. They use a mistake as a valuable learning tool to help inform their future decisions. There is similarly no space in the high performer's life for grudges, since they prefer to deploy the energy required for resentment towards more fruitful and profitable ends. Nor are they shy about recognising superior work in others and offering praise as both a reward and an incentive. As Dr Travis Bradberry, expert on the attributes of superb performers, recently wrote, the successful will not spend too much time in the company of negative people or chronic complainers. This isn't because they lack empathy or want to avoid those who challenge them and identify potential problems. Instead, it's because downbeat attitudes can be horribly corrosive and they are invariably part of any given problem rather than the solution.
Despite a wide perception to the contrary, being focused isn't synonymous with being monomaniacal: the successful frequently emerge from their bubbles to refresh their knowledge and experience and identify new opportunities. What this does mean is that they are entirely concentrated on the immediate task at hand. True, they will have the big picture and their ultimate ambitions in mind, but they will, on a daily basis, target the building blocks of that success, doing a great job of their current projects. As an extension of this, successful people don't obsess about the accomplishments of others, choosing to direct their energies towards their own endeavours. A colourful old sporting aphorism is that winners keep their eye on the rabbit rather than the other greyhounds.
Being supremely well-prepared is often mistaken for being fortunate or lucky because successful people are so often around to take advantage of great opportunities as they present themselves. This apparent serendipity, of course, is no such thing: it's the result of detailed research, careful organisation and being thoroughly prepared in everything you do, whether it's a conference with clients, a marketing event or a staff meeting. Being prepared won't in itself guarantee success. Failure to prepare will, however, guarantee failure.
Piper Fitzgerald is a Specialist Talent Consultancy operating within Audit, Tax & Advisory Australia wide, recruiting only the Top 15% of candidates. If you are currently looking to recruit for your organisation or are interested in current market opportunities contact Simon on email@example.com or 1300 619 510.