Successful people have always been, and continue to be, studied, researched, and analyzed endlessly. Why? Because we want to learn what makes them tick. We want to find out what they do (or don’t do) that makes them more successful than the rest of us. I recently read two online articles, each describing a characteristic of successful people. Of course, successful people exhibit many more characteristics than just these two, but these two resonated with me, so I thought I would pass them along. Maybe they will resonate with you too. To learn what these two characteristics are that successful people seem to share, please continue reading below.
Be decisive. Get focused. Take a nap.
We already know successful people tend to play to their strengths, and don’t waste a lot of time trying to be good at something for which they have no talent.
But now we know two more things about them.
First, they are decisive. That’s not to say they make impulsive, ill-considered decisions. They may take some time to assemble relevant facts, information, and opinions, but then they decide. They don’t procrastinate. And once they decide, they tend to stick with their decision. If they do reverse a decision, they do it slowly . . . only after their original decision has had time to play out. That’s in contrast to some of us mere mortals who put off making a decision for as long as possible, and then immediately begin second-guessing ourselves, changing direction again and again.
What do you suppose it is that makes successful people more decisive than the rest of us?
I believe it’s vision. They have a crystal clear view of where they want to go and how they expect to get there, and that clarity makes their decision-making process more or less binary. It’s an X or an O, it’s black or it’s white, it’s right or it’s wrong, it moves me closer to my goal or it moves me farther away. Without that clear vision . . . if you don’t know where you want to go or how you want to get there . . . decision-making gets to be a very murky, complicated business of weighing an infinite number of variables and alternatives. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any ole road will take you there.”
If you struggle with creating a vision for your organization, a robust planning process will help. The very nature of planning forces you to create a vision for a future that excites and energizes you (and your organization). It also forces you to lay out a path to reach that vision that is both reasonable and achievable, and will give you the confidence to say, “Hey, we can do this!”
The second characteristic of successful people is that they work in a highly focused, intense way, but for shorter periods of time as compared to less successful people. They are sprinters. They are capable of enormous output in short bursts, but then they need to rest, recuperate, and generally recharge their batteries. Many authors will devote four hours in the morning to writing, then give themselves the afternoon off to rejuvenate their creative juices. Professional athletes need time to recover following an intense performance. Even musicians perform better after short, very focused practice sessions.
So would it make sense for small business owners to bring their A Game every morning and then take every afternoon off? For most of them, probably not. But over the years, I have known many small company owners who wear their long work week like a badge of honor. They thump their chests and proudly proclaim that they work twelve hours a day, six days a week. Clearly, they would benefit from finding ways to improve the quality of their work time and reduce the quantity.
As I’ve said, these are only two of many characteristics that successful people seem to share, so practicing only these two probably won’t transform you into a Warren Buffett, but practicing them probably will make you more successful than you are now. Let me repeat these easy steps:
- Be decisive
- Get focused.
- Take a nap.