Seven Abilities of Successful People


by Utpal Vaishnav

In the process of continuous learning, we sometime think that if we have all the abilities that successful people have, we too will be successful.

More often than not, that’s not the case.

You don’t need ALL the abilities that successful people have. Key to your success would be to find out what abilities you don’t need and focus on a few, foundational abilities that will drive you toward success.

Now, you don’t need abilities to repair your AC or program complex business software or draw an engineering plan.

Agreed, these are useful abilities to have, but they are not the ones that you can’t live without.

There are other abilities that you should aim to master though. Given the speed at which the world grows, such abilities become not only helpful, but also imperative.

Here are seven abilities of successful people that have a wide application and are often not consciously thought and practiced. Here they go:

1. Upbeat thinking

Upbeat Thinking requires thinking and acting ahead of forestalled events; this means using prudence.

Upbeat thinking is one of the most powerful differentiator that an individual can have. Many of us look at upbeat thinkers as creative people who instigate actions ahead of time.

Most important thing about upbeat thinking is that it is a choice that proactive people make. Here’s a good read for you to think upbeat and stay positive.

2. See the big picture

Sure, everyone can look at the big picture but after the goal is achieved. The distinguishing ability that only a few people have is to look at the big picture before the goal is achieved.

Ability to see the big picture expands our perceptions and guides our actions accordingly.

Good thing about seeing the big picture is this – you can see as big as your imagination is.

Still not convinced? Here’s a good read from Ali Luke.

3. Prioritize

Sure, you have upbeat thinking, ability to see the big picture and you can execute well too but if you execute wrong things then you won’t get desired results.

Prioritization is the ability to focus your energies on the right thing so that you get the right results. This is what is called putting first things first and ability to differentiate important things from urgent.

Thinking you need to get better in your prioritization skills? Read Stephen Covey’s First Things First book and get better at this ability.

4. Be fair

It’s easy to think about only our benefit and organize our actions around that. The problem with it is that it never works. People want to relate with someone who is at least fair at a minimum. Imagine when you have established yourself as a fair person, people would admire you, like to connect with you and participate in the projects you take on. Your fairness would ensure that their interests would also be taken care of when they serve your interests.

5. Listening

We have been given two ears and one mouth. Still we speak more than we listen. Successful people have aligned themselves with the law of nature. They listen twice as much as they speak. To listen effectively, you have to learn to normalize their internal noise levels and be open to the present moment. Sure, listening is an art and here’s a good old post that affirms that.

6. Collaborate

Collaboration is working with each other to do a task. It’s a team effort where two or more people work together to realize the shared goals. If you don’t collaborate, you limit your success to your own abilities. But if you collaborate, you have unlimited power. You just have to master one skill – to establish and inspire people toward a shared goal. That’s the power of collaboration. To collaborate with others, you have to master the ability to inspire the masses of people. Here’s a good read on that.

7. Retrospect

It is one of the key success enabler in one’s journey of continuous learning. It provides you with an opportunity to pause and reflect on your actions, their outcomes and your defaults that trigger those actions. It is a must have yet not often practiced ability. Learning is easy; unlearning is difficult. Ability to retrospect is very foundational when it comes to unlearning and your ability to learn, unlearn and relearn is foundational to your success.

Have you observed any other abilities that you have seen in successful people? Feel free to share it in the comments.

About the Author: Utpal Vaishnav is a lifelong learner, entrepreneur and author. He is the founder of Self Help Zen where he shares pragmatic tips for effective living. Follow him on twitter @utpalvaishnav.

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Team Building: Leaders Make It Safe to Collaborate by John Baldoni

Jun 14, 2012

In order for your staff to effectively collaborate, you have to define what it means to help. Here’s why.

What does it mean to help?

Ronald Reagan used to have fun with the statement, “The most dangerous words in the English language are ‘I’m with the government and I’m here to help.'” It seldom failed to get a laugh. But in reality the issue of help, or specifically how we help, is no laughing matter.

So often executives will ask their teams to collaborate more closely with one another. In cross-functional teams this means the marketing person has permission to offer advice to someone in logistics. Or a finance exec can weigh in on an engineering issue. Interdisciplinary collaboration is much talked about but too often it does not work because managers are not certain how to act.

An executive who attended a program I taught made this clearer to me. His questions focused on: How can I ask a question of a colleague without showing him or her up? And if I make a comment about a colleague’s work, do I come across as a know-it-all or self-promoter?

Tough questions indeed and they get to the heart of why colleagues sometimes hold back. The proper response is for leaders to make it safe for staffers to collaborate.

Here are some suggestions:

Define help.

What does it mean to offer help? The first step is to define what help is not: one-upmanship. The person asking for help must be given assurance that he will be listened to. The person giving help will know that he will not be asked to provide extra manpower, unless the boss says to. Help therefore may be as simple as asking a clarifying question or as detailed as assigning a work team to solve a problem.

Define the lingua franca.

High performance teams also develop their own rules, or language. They know what it means to listen and to collaborate. Collaboration means sharing and so members do not view it as an opportunity to power grab or micromanage a colleague.

Defining what it means to help extends to meetings, particularly since we spend so much in them.

Define the purpose of collaborative meetings.

All meetings are not created equally. Some may be procedural (to get updates) and others may be strategic (focused on long-term issues). Mixing these two intentions inevitably overruns the deliberative process in favor of pushing through agenda items. One thing I have observed is that managers limit procedural meetings to quick get-togethers (where everyone stands) by putting them first in memoranda form for email distribution. Consider the strategic meeting as the opportunity to deliberate.