Over the years I have had the opportunity to hang out with and become friends with a number of very successful men. They include writers and other artists, people who’ve made a fortune in finance and property, the CEOs of various global companies, and a very famous British recording artist who has had a number of transatlantic hit records.
I have spent a long time thinking about what they have in common and I’ve observed that there are eight traits that they all share. While this list is by no means exhaustive, the characteristics below are positive and worth emulating in your own field, be it meeting women, starting a business, or creating art.
1. The Ability To Self-Publicize Without Annoying People
Let’s face it—we are in the golden age of self-promotion, with global stars as diverse as Ed Sheeran, Calvin Harris, and Kim Kardashian all owing their initial success in a large part to their social media profiles. While I’m not suggesting you should become a digital braggart who puts everyone off by making every Tweet about your latest project, you will do well to find less obtrusive ways of letting people know about your successes.
Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and the truth is that unless you let people know what you’ve done they very likely won’t be aware of it, or will pay little attention.
Success is contagious. Once people know that things you are doing are working then they are more likely to approach you with ideas to augment yours.
2. …But Avoid Talking Too Much About Current Projects In Casual Conversations
This doesn’t contradict the point about self-promotion. Once a project is finished, then you should be talking about it. Before it’s ready, you should be working on it. Save the chatter for when you’re finished.
3. An Almost Pathological Obsession With What They Do
People who are very successful are by definition obsessed with whatever field they work in. This is essential. If you aren’t in love with what you do to the exclusion of (almost) everything else, then you should find something else to focus on and make your current hustle a hobby – if that. It is only through the razor-sharp focus brought about by immersion in a subject that success is born.
This obsession should not be limited to your own work, by the way. It must also includes being a “fan” of others. So, if you want to be a concert pianist, then you should have listened to every recording you can get your hands on of the best (and the worst) other concert pianists out there. You need to understand what it is other people are doing, not to copy them, but to learn from them as you develop your own style.
4. The Ability To Make Quick Decisions
Decision-making is hard, but procrastinating doesn’t help anyone. Sun Szu in The Art of War says that a long, protracted war has never done anyone any good. Make your decision quickly on the basis of the information at hand and act immediately.
In many cases it is less the decision you’ve made that is important – as frequently each of two approaches can have merit – as simply taking action and enjoying forward momentum.
5… And Not Be Swayed
Once you’ve made a decision, don’t look back. Stick with it. Understand that you took what you believed to be the right action in the moment and trust your instincts. You chose that route for a reason. Don’t beat yourself up about what could have happened if you’d gone the other way. Move on and don’t look back.
6. A Strong Sense of Self
The successful guys I know have a very strong sense of their own identity, likes, dislikes, and beliefs. In game terms this translates roughly as having strong frame, and it means that you will be harder to push around, less prone to navel-gazing and uncertainty, and more steadfast. Take time to understand yourself, work out where you stand in relation to the world, and live accordingly.
7. And An Invincible Work Ethic
No getting around this one, I’m afraid. Real success requires hard work. The English novelist Anthony Trollope used to get up at 5am to write before his day job. As soon as he finished one novel he would move on to the next – sometimes on the same day.
Whether you want to get good at meeting girls, or start making money online, you need to stop making excuses and get to work. Once you begin putting in the hours it will become addictive, and you’ll establish a virtuous circle, finding it hard to tolerate your old, less driven lifestyle.
8. The Ability To Maintain Consistency Of Output In The Face Of Success Or Failure
Successful people don’t dwell on great failures or great successes – they’re too busy working on the next big thing. Once you’ve put something out into the world, be it a blog post, an approach to a hot girl, or a new product, then how it is received is largely out of your hands.
Of course you should tweak and refine as much as you can, and learn from any errors, but undue angst or celebration won’t help. Consistency of effort is the mother of success, not analysis.
Read More: You Have to Learn to Love Rejection