5 Very Positive Things that Successful People Do!

5 Very Positive Things that Successful People Do!

thumbs up“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan

Successful people have developed very powerful and deeply held habits.

Here are 5 of them:

1. They live for the future and they don’t dwell in the past. They learn from mistakes and errors but they never brood over “what could have been.” Successful people know that the past is history and that taking risks involves the possibility of failure…but taking reasonable risks is also necessary to succeed.

2. They don’t obsess over perfection. It is not attainable in any measurable way and making perfection the objective is a Sisyphean task and sets one up for failure. Successful people are realistic in their goal-setting and apply themselves and do the best they can. When the job or task is done…it’s time to move on. History will judge if it was good enough.

3. They associate with successful people. And avoid people who are “downers” …those who are negative. Just as a positive attitude is contagious, so is a negative attitude. Negative people can poison a team or an organization. Putting up with negative people is a waste of time and energy that can be used to build positive relationships and networks. Associating with winners helps people become winners themselves. You can’t pick all you interact with … but you sure can for a lot of them. If you are a supervisor – don’t tolerate it in any of your reports. If you supervise supervisors, instruct your people to not tolerate it and train them how to eliminate it from their domain.

4. They never stop learning. Successful people learn on two different tracks: first, studying the components of success and failure and secondly learning more about what interests them personally. The first one is the same for all successful people; learning what the dynamics of success are, how to achieve them as well as learning from past mistakes. One way to do so is to study the success and failures of others. What were the habits, practices, mindsets, and strengths of the great successes of history; Winston Churchill, George Washington, Andrew Carnegie (Carnegie Steel that became U.S. Steel),  Steve Jobs (Apple), Jack Welch (GE)…and Michael Jordan, to name just a few. These great success also made mistakes – big ones along the way. Learn from these greats.

The second area of learning will also make you a more interesting and personable person! In my case, it is history – especially of the American Civil War and the two World Wars. My two universes of learning are therefore reading  biographies and military history. The lessons to be learned overlap. Every now and then, however, an Elmore Leonard novel sneaks in!

5. They bring a healthy amount of skepticism to the table when it is appropriate. They have a bit of “Missouri” in them – Missouri being the “show me state”. It helps them separate the “wheat from the chaff” – the useful from the not-so-useful when absorbing information or needing to decide a course of action. The world is full of people with agendas. A certain amount of skepticism helps to get through that minefield. They know not to take things at face value without probing the details and understanding the consequences of the action being considered. They challenge claims that just don’t seem to make sense.

Step back mentally and evaluate how well  you do in these five dynamics. Make them part of your personal planning journal and incorporate them into daily thinking. Good luck!

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Leadership – Critical for Success – How to Excel in Your Job

Leadership – Critical for Success – How to Excel in Your Job

Peter Drucker said it all when he said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”. *

leadershipBoth are necessary for success… but leadership is harder to pursue and harder to attain.

Any road map for dynamic leadership will include:

1. Seeing the big picture. Picture in your “mind’s eye” the objectives of the organization (or your team, department or business unit). Don’t engage in or permit others to engage in any activity that doesn’t get you closer to achieving those objectives. Sure – every now and then a re-grouping is called for to get back on track… and every now and then some “pro bono” effort is needed….but don’t let extraneous “things” get in the way of pursuing the organization’s objectives.

2. Making sure subordinates are fully informed as to the objective(s) and buy into them. This often involves a discussion of “why”, “how” and “target numbers”.  Give them the parameters of action that can – and can’t – be taken; budgetary limits on spending and any other broad guidelines. Communicate clear and concise expectations of results.

3. Monitoring progress – but not hovering. Let staff do their thing… your monitoring is to prevent disaster, not minor mistakes or errors. “Doing things their own way” may well result in minor errors or mistakes. Make any mistake or error a learning process; risk-taking is inherent in the pursuit of success.  Remember – “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs!”

4. Measuring progress regularly. Benchmark progress against targets, and charge staff with developing plans to address shortfalls or to capitalize on above-target results. Guide their problem solving…but don’t do it for them.

5. Making sure every team member “sweats the small stuff”. One of John Wooden’s maxims for success is, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen”. Every team member needs to acknowledge that each and every task or action needs to be on-target, on-time and error-free. Sloppy execution is a sign of sloppy management. Sloppy management is a sign of poor leadership.

6. Recognizing and rewarding performance…publicly.  People like to be winners. The incremental achievement of targeted objectives determines who the winners are; it is the job of leadership to recognize and reward those individuals and teams. Create programs and mechanisms to regularly and publicly recognize those who achieve and set the standard for others.

OK… six components of effective leadership. Rate yourself on a 1-5 scale for each:

One or two points – I haven’t a clue where to begin

Three points – I am progressing but I have a ways to go

Four points – I am doing well!! Now it’s time to fine-tune

Five points –  Ain’t no such thing as a five… always room to improve.. give yourself a 4.7 or 4.8

Now – add up your points – maximum of 30 possible (6 x 5). Anything less than a twenty means you have your work cut out for yourself. Twenty-five or better – congratulations – Drucker would be proud of you. But don’t rest… keeping it going requires constant attention. Good luck!!

http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Peter_Drucker

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The Art of Persuasion

Persuasion is the process of convincing others of the merits of your position, idea or issue thru presenting facts, the use of logic…and avoiding any inter-personal issues that could become distractions and thereby blocking your audience from seeing and persuasionthen accepting your argument. Persuasion therefore is a two-fold process.

1. Presenting your case:

a. Broadly state the outcome and success story that you believe will result if your course of action or plan is adopted and put into place. Be as specific as you can, but don’t make any “heads in the cloud” statements or promises. Be sure everyone understands your objective and the features and benefits of achieving it.

b. Outline briefly what the challenges and barriers to success are and what resources will be needed to implement or to proceed.

c. Proceed to present in suitable detail what it is that you propose…your idea, solution or course of action. In advance you need to have thought through how much detail is appropriate for your audience. Some audiences – bosses and others – want a great deal of detail… graphs – charts, etc. They are “numbers people” and need numbers to understand. Other audiences are “concept people” and just want to understand your concept and how things will generally work. Part of this depends on how much faith your audience has in you, your past history of being on target with ideas, decisions and actions.

d. You need to build your case step-by-step. Take the temperature regularly to ensure that you haven’t lost anyone along the way, saying something like “Everyone with me? Any questions? OK… let’s proceed.” Pay attention to your audience… and look for any signs of confusion and if questions reveal that an earlier point was missed…go back and cover that ground again. When you have fully made your presentation…do a quick review…ask if there are any more questions…and then ask the decision-maker(s) when you might expect a decision.

e. You also need to think through ahead of time what your presentation format will be; will you use visual aids such as a PowerPoint presentation, or some other graphics? And hand in hand with that is what kind of “leave behind” or handouts you will utilize. If you use a PowerPoint presentation, you can print all of the PowerPoint slides – six to a page – in color or in black and white. You also need to decide whether to distribute your handouts in advance… so that your audience can make notes on them.

2. Remember we said there are two aspects to persuasion? The second one is avoiding any inter-personal issues that could become distractions and thereby blocking your audience from seeing and then accepting your argument. An overview of these issues include:

a. Know who your audience is and what is at stake for each of them. For example, a plan to expand the use of technology and automaton may be great… but if it results in cutting staff, be aware that may be indeed a blow to someone’s turf…their power and influence in the organization. When a “stakeholder” has something to lose as a result of your plan, you may well benefit from talking with them in advance…saying something like “..when I make my pitch to the team tomorrow, it might have an adverse impact on part of your operation… but hear it out and we can then discuss its impact on your department.” Do an inventory of who is going to be involved with your presentation and the resulting decision to be made. What do they have at stake? What might their fears be? Be sure to address them in your presentation.

b. Be aware of whose handiwork you are going to modify or eliminate if that will be the impact of your proposal. Here too you may want to meet with them before the presentation and say something like “…I know that the data center was your baby and that you set it up…and wanted you to know that my proposal to the team tomorrow will have an impact on that…and I ask that you hear me out tomorrow.”

c. Finally… be sure to mentally be alert for any mannerism that annoy or frustrate people. Jingling the change in your pocket for the men… pulling at strands of hair for the ladies. Examine your speaking style for repetitive and annoying words and phrases such as saying “OK” after every sentence, and slang and lingo that might annoy others. Never, never use profanity or discriminatory words or phrases. Be 110% “politically correct”!!

Successfully persuading others involves influencing them. The late (and great) Cavett Robert, a world-renowned motivational speaker said “Influence is the ability to cause others to think, feel and act as we desire”. Use your powers of persuasion to influence your audience to adopt your proposal … or at the very least …as a springboard to modifying it for the benefit of the organization. Good Luck!!

If you want to know more of the art of persuasion – see the Wikipedia link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persuasion

And a great Forbes article on line:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonnazar/2013/03/26/the-21-principles-of-persuasion/

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“How Are You?”

A throw-away question… or one you are asking with sincerity?

In my capacity as an executive with a former employer, I used to work with an insurance broker by the name of John Spinner. Whenever I talked with him or saw him in person, he’d ask the standard question “How are you…” but with two additions.

how are youHis question was “How are YOU today?”…with heavy emphasis on the YOU. And the addition of the word “today” totally took the question out of the “throw-away” category to a question where the answer was important to him.

If in person, it was accompanied by a firm handshake and direct eye contact. If my answer was non-committal, John would follow up “no – really how are YOU?”

Agreed – I was a customer. But as time went on and John knew he had my business, he still asked the question same way. And if I responded in anything less that “A-OK John”, he’d ask “Is there anything I can do for you?”

Please note these exchanges took place over 30 years ago yet I still remember them.

The point is that this single aspect of John’s communication skills helped make him a very likeable fellow which in turn earned him referrals galore… and from referrals come new business and more referrals.

And remembering John’s approach to the routine “How are YOU today?” serves as a reminder to us all just how impactful the most simple of communications can be.

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Enough is Enough!! Stop Talking and Let’s Get on With It !!

stop_talking_tshirtA major annoyance for most of us is a conversation with someone that never stops talking!

You almost have to wait until they take a breath to get a comment or question in!

Learning how and when to “shut up” is both a behavioral habit as well as a leadership trait.

According to  Mike Staver of The Staver Group – www.thestavergroup.com – many people don’t know when to talk and when to put a brake on it.

Here are a few questions to determine whether you know how to keep your mouth shut or not:

  •  After you make your point, do you just have to add a few other (unnecessary) comments?
  •  Do you say “in closing” several times before you really close?
  •  Do you have to have the last word in an argument or disagreement?

Here are some communications tips from Staver:

  •  Be clear about what you are attempting to communicate.
  •  Share with the person you are communicating with what you want to accomplish.
  •  Avoid getting distracted by other issues, ideas, points, stories, etc. (I refer to this as “wandering around the verbal landscape”! With folks that do this, you just want to scream “Stick to the point”!!)
  •  Use “talk-ending” techniques such as “So what are the next steps?” or use an example to wrap things up.
  •  Learn to tolerate silence. It is effective…and it won’t kill you, Staver says!

“Leadership – never stop learning”

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13 Common Behaviors of Trusted Leaders!

Without trust – organizational crisis!

Research shows that only 49% of employees trust senior management, and only 28% believe CEOs are a credible source of information.

Trust aOrganizational trust is critical for success – trust is the foundation for all successful relationships, both business and personal. If you are a manager and leader, one of your most important roles is to inspire trust. Trust in you, your motives  AND your organization.

Inspire – to affect – to guide – to bring about – to fill with enlivening emotion.

Inspiring trust is not an easy task. To be trusted as a manager and leader, you must demonstrate both character and competence:

Character includes integrity, honesty and how you are observed treating others. A manager/leader who has earned trust is viewed as a “good and honest person” as demonstrated by past words and deeds – by “history”. He or she is credible – up front with people.

Competence includes capabilities, skills and track record. Your actions and decisions need to demonstrate that you know what you are doing – that you understand the marketplace, understand people and that you are constantly looking for organizational opportunity.

The-Speed-Of-TrustStephen M.R. Covey (son of the late Stephen R. Covey) – in his landmark book The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything – talks of the “13 Behaviors of High-Trust Leaders.

Covey identified 13 common behaviors of trusted leaders around the world that build and then maintain trust. When individual leaders adopt these ways of behaving, it’s like making deposits into the “trust account” of another party.

Those 13 are:

1. Talk Straight: Tell the truth. Let people know where you stand. Demonstrate integrity.

2. Demonstrate Respect: Show you genuinely care. Respect everyone, even those that can’t do anything for you. Show kindness in little ways.

3. Create Transparency: Be genuine, open and authentic. Don’t hide information or have ‘hidden agendas’. Operate on the premise of ‘what you see is what you get’.

4. Right Wrongs: Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible. Demonstrate personal humility. Don’t cover things up. Do the right thing.

5. Show Loyalty: Give credit to others. Be loyal to the absent. Represent others who aren’t there to speak for themselves. Don’t talk negatively about others behind their backs.

6. Deliver Results: Establish a track record of results. Accomplish what you are hired to do. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Don’t make excuses for not delivering.

7. Get Better: Continuously learn and improve. Increase your capabilities. Develop formal and informal feedback systems. Thank people for feedback. Act on feedback received.

8. Confront Reality: Meet issues head-on. Address the ‘tough stuff’ directly. Acknowledge the unsaid. Lead conversations courageously.

9. Clarify Expectations: Disclose and reveal expectations. Discuss and validate them. Renegotiate them if necessary. Ensure expectations are clear.

10. Practice Accountability: Hold yourself and others accountable. Take responsibility for good or bad results. Clearly communicate how everyone is doing.

11. Listen First: Listen before you speak. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. Diagnose. Don’t assume, find out.

12. Keep Commitments: State your intentions and then do it. Make commitments carefully; make keeping your commitments the symbol of your honor. Don’t break confidences.

13. Extend Trust: Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned your trust. Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning your trust.

Wise words and a roadmap for every manager and leader. Keep the short list of these (talk straight, demonstrate respect, create transparency, etc.) in your mind as you go about your day. Better yet – get Covey’s book and read it!

Leadership – Never Stop Learning…….

Good luck!

Adapted from Crisis of Trust by Lori Williams of Creative Management Consultants

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Your First 90 Days on the Job

I wrote earlier about four critical things you must do when you start a new job (July 17 ‘13 post).

90-day-plan-300x206To recap:

1. Figure out who the key players are in your arena…and spend serious face time with them.

2. Determine how you will be evaluated.

3. Determine what the really important things are.

4. Be on the way to becoming a “Go To” person.

They are critical and should be your first priority…but there a few other very important things  you need to pay attention to during the critical “break-in” period….your first 90 days on the job.

1. Create a personal game plan…. and update it weekly. This personal game plan will be very short term initially… you can’t make plans for what you don’t know (yet). It is essentially a “To Do/To Follow Up On” list broken into groups – the groups being different direct reports (subordinates), different projects, different things you are waiting for something to come back your way for additional action, etc.

Although there are all sorts of online and smartphone/PC applications for such things, I have always preferred to keep this very simple – an 8 ½ x 11 lined pad with pages devoted to each “group”. Makes it easy to refer and write to it day and night. The top sheet is blank except for my name and tele # and a request to get it to me if found – it is really important to me… and while I have never lost one… that doesn’t mean I won’t someday <smile>!

Just label each page as to who/what it applies to…when full… go the next blank page. Number the pages by group.

Much of it will truly be “To Do/To Follow Up On” things.. but the reason I reference it as a “game plan” is that it will also have a series of personal objectives there as well. I use a few sheets at the very end of the pad to jot them down and update/revise as necessary.

By putting it all on one pad, it is easy to stay on top of your entire breadth of responsibilities…and it goes with your everywhere! And when it is full – don’t throw it away for a year or so… you might be surprised to see how often you go back and refer to it.

Finally – due to the nature of what you have recorded here – you need to safeguard it very carefully!!

2. Create a reference guide…and update it as frequently as daily. This is a continuing list of “stuff” you will refer to from time to time – such things as procedures, names , tele numbers and email addresses, driving directions, tax ID #s, important deadline dates for whatever  – you get the idea – the stuff you don’t want to have to look up or ask about a second time.

As of this writing, there is a neat pc program called “Evernote” that can really make life easier in this regard.  http://evernote.com   Install it on your PC and your smart phone.. and synch them. That way you can do data entry and retrieval from either. Of course names with tele numbers, addresses and email addresses go into whatever program your employer has set up – usually Outlook.

3. Get a grip on whatever numbers are important to your sphere of responsibility.

You gotta know the numbers. Sales, margins, costs, profits, percentages, ratios, benchmarks. Whatever is important to the objective of getting it done on time and on (or under!) budget.

Every business has ratios and relationships. For example a friend in the hotel business tells me that she staffs housekeepers based on 14. One housekeeper per 14 rooms to be cleaned. Every sales position has a ratio of contacts to presentations to closes. Find out which ratios are relevant to your job, your department, etc.

4. Determine who the external resources are and establish contact with them.

If your job requires you to deal with others external to your organization, make a point to determine who they are and make contact with them.  They might be customers or vendors. They may be outside resources such as lawyers, accountants, bankers, auditors, etc.

Talk to your boss to determine who they might be and be pro-active by reaching out to them. Introduce yourself and let them know they can count on your for whatever role has been the norm in the past.

OK… you now have some guidelines and marching orders for your first 90 days in your new job!

Feel free to post here for the benefit of others your thoughts and ideas you have found successful in this regard!! Thanks!!

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The World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity — former U.S. Presidents

“The world’s most exclusive fraternity” is the tagline of a wonderful book by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy entitled “The President’s Club”.

The President's Club book coverIt details the relationships between ex-U.S. Presidents and the incumbent. Regardless of what is said on the campaign trail, those men (and hopefully a woman one day soon!) all recognize the rigors of the job and that the advice and assistance of those that have walked the halls of The White House before can be both helpful and comforting.

The book is a great read – with “aha” stuff you never knew and a broad sprinkling of humor. It also details what happens when an ex-president outruns his blockers as Jimmy Carter did on more than one occasion!

Why do I devote space in this blog to it? Because it is also a series of great leadership lessons and illustrates that “only time will tell” how wise were certain decisions and how history now views former presidents compared to what the public thought in their first years out of office.

I strongly recommend the book…and you will learn from the successes and mistakes of these former presidents.

presidentsAnd while you are at it… take a look at the wonderful piece by David Shribman in The Salem News entitled “The new George H.W. Bush.” It talks of the work done by presidents after they leave office – their so-called “second lives”. John Quincy Adams served in Congress for several terms after leaving office…and with nothing to prove was at times a real pain to the incumbent at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! Shribman’s article coverage also includes U.S. Grant, Harry Truman, James Garfield, Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and Bush 41.

http://www.salemnews.com/opinion/x1912998280/Shribman-The-new-George-H-W-Bush

Leadership – never stop learning!

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Taking Charge When Taking Over

Taking Charge When Taking Over

Where to begin when you are hired to be the boss??

take_charge

By Marshall Brown, CPCC, President Marshall Brown & Associates. Published in Association TRENDS. Reprinted with permission. While this specifically is geared to a trade association executive, the issues are the same that need to be addressed when a manager at any level is hired to take over an existing team.

Q: I recently became the CEO of a mid-sized association and will be managing a staff of 30. I would like to develop and convey some clear expectations for the staff and give the directors some guidance on implementation. Any tips would be appreciated.

Brown: Too often, executives seem to lead through mental telepathy. Rather than set and communicate clear expectations – the milestones against which we test our progress – they assume their managers and employees know what to do and how to do it. What results is hesitation, indecision and uncertainty. Healthy teamwork, initiative and productivity go out the window.

Properly setting expectations for directors and employees/team members is a critical dimension in quality workplaces, according to a study of managers undertaken in the 1990s by the Gallup Organization. Below are some tips for both you and your directors on setting clear expectations that will set standards for excellence and results:

1. Start with a vision of what you want the end result to look like. Not just what you want done, but the results you want to achieve when the project is completed.

2. Discuss how you define “excellent performance.” Paint a complete picture. Refer to your performance review form. Don’t assume.

3. Focus on the desired outcome, not on describing each and every step. Your goal is to guide, not control. Letting individuals find their own route toward productive outcomes encourages them to use their strengths.

4. Tie the mission of the department to each job. People want to know that their role, whether large or small, makes a difference.

5. Put the expectations in writing.

6. Stay on the sideline. You may be tempted to step in and ‘play the game’ for a subordinate, but if you do, no one will learn.

7. Give feedback, and often! The annual performance review is too late to let staff members know how they are meeting your expectations. Schedule informal review time weekly (quarterly for larger departments). Feedback given along the way sounds more like coaching, not like punishment.

8. Ask for staff members’ feedback on how they think they are doing. Two-way communication clarifies expectations.

9. Give positive reinforcement. Don’t mix negative and positive. Mention the thing you like and you’ll get more of it. Be specific and prompt.

10. Don’t take it personally. When staff members don’t perform as you think they should have, look for solutions, not blame.

This article was originally published in the March 2011 edition of Marshall Brown & Associates’ It’s All About You! Ezine.

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Traits of Success!

Traits of success – what do successful people credit for why they have achieved success?

successSuccessful people – when asked, “What has helped you achieve success?” Or ”What are the traits you have nurtured to get where you are?” – will respond with a variety of nouns and descriptive phrases. Some of the most common are detailed below. Take a look at these and check off those that you possess… and add the others to your personal “to do” list.

Do the same for your subordinates and develop a coaching program for each of them so they too can begin to check off as “got it” these desired traits of successful people.

  1. Great and positive attitude. The glass is – at least outwardly – ALWAYS half full. Be “up”…smile…portray that problems and obstacles are to be tackled and resolved. Having a great positive attitude is the first step to being a “Go To” person – a desired state of being for anyone! Have a personal methodology to get and keep your attitude positive, especially when things go wrong. Check the websites and thoughts of Tim Connor  (www.timeconnor.com) , David Rich (www.contagioustalk.com) and Angelo Agrafiotis (www.aaimlifecoaching.com) when you need a mental shot in the arm.
  2. Stay on message. To do otherwise confuses people as to what is important and what the mission is. Repeat the message over and over again… otherwise, people will forget and stray off message. Like the parlor game of telephone where a verbal message is passed down the line and emerges bearing no resemblance to the original message… only by repeating the message will it get to all and be retained in its original form. One memo… one presentation…one speech will never get it done… tenacity is critical.
  3. Be upfront, straightforward and honest…at all times. Simple and direct avoids confusion. No obfuscation…no “blowin’ smoke” about “what’s going on”. Your subordinates and those you work with need to be able to predict how your think and how you make decisions in order to be in sync with you. Being upfront and straightforward leads to predictability. When you use facts and figures – be sure you are right on; getting them wrong leads people to conclude you were playing fast and fancy with the facts.
  4. Be curious. Curiosity leads you and your co-workers to explore new and better ways to do things. It counters the brain “stagnation” that can set in within an organization. Cultivate “environmental awareness” – what is going on around you and – and consider how it all fits in. Read, learn and ponder the “what-ifs” regarding your organization, department or job!
  5. Be a very good listener. When you are talking with someone – give it 100% of your attention. It is just rude to listen and also multi-task on your PDA or let your eyes wander around the room. If you are going to listen to someone, you have two objectives: a. Hear and understand what he or she has to say; and, b. Have him or her leave the conversation feeling they had your total and complete attention.. .the impact is for the person to feel that they were the most important person in the room.
  6. Intensity of focus. Be very, very serious about achieving excellence in your realm of responsibility. Never accept second-best … and if it happens regardless, have a plan to fix it. Remember the parable of the farmer’s cow in the ditch. The three-step process is:

a. First – get the cow out of the ditch.

b. Second – Figure out how the cow got in the ditch.

c. Third – Create and implement a plan so it can never happen again.

Most people do #1…and maybe #2. People that are serious about excellence take the time to do all three!

OK – these are six characteristics of successful people in their own words. See if you agree…and to what degree do you possess and practice them!

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