As an employer, investor, husband and father I’ve had enough experience in life and business to recognize there are certain traits that people possess which pretty much ensures success in whatever they do. Admittedly, there are other desirable traits and certainly most people do not possess every single trait I’m about to list. However, in my dealings with other business owners, athletes, investors, employees, coaches, you name it—just about every successful person has some of the following traits that allow them to achieve their desires. I’m going to refer to this list as Superhero Abilities. Please keep in mind that these abilities are in reach of everyone, not just the heroes of the screen and comics. So let’s begin…
Courage–I believe that courage is the most important trait that anyone can possess. Without courage, no other trait or ability matters. One must have the courage to begin a journey before he or she can employ any other abilities. Fear is what stops most people from achievements and fulfillment. Courage is what allows us to overcome fear and move forward despite the fear. I have found that courage can be developed through repeated action, and your successes will add to your courage. If you find yourself anxious or afraid, keep moving forward and focus on your achievements, not your failures. Courage is something we all possess, like muscles. Maybe it’s time to exercise it.
Faith—The capacity for faith, to see what is not there yet but what could be, is something that most children have. Yet, it seems to be beaten out of us as we get older. I think creativity is really just a form of faith. The creative person imagines what could be, and perhaps what should be instead of the status quo. This is really just another way of saying we believe in something that doesn’t exist yet or we just can’t see. That’s what faith truly is. We are all born with faith, but the best place to start building faith is in ourselves. We must believe in our own abilities, even though we may not see them yet.
Problem Solving Abilities—Life is a series of events which we interpret through our lens, or “blueprint” of how life should be. We all have expectations of how life should be and when life doesn’t equal those expectations, we get pain. When life goes the way we think it should, we get pleasure or happiness. What most of us realize very early in life, however, is life is filled with obstacles, incidents, and environments that we must figure out a solution for because what is happening in our lives is not something we necessarily like. Therefore, people in all occupations should become incredible problem solvers. The ability to solve problems not only brings personal fulfillment, it is also one of the most desirable traits that employers and partners look for in business. If you want to be highly sought after, become a great problem solver.
Reason—The ancient Greeks spoke of reason as the one tool that humans have over other animals. What is reason? As humans, we have the ability to examine our own thoughts, emotions and actions and decide whether what we are thinking, feeling or doing is serving us in our lives. While we cannot control what thoughts creep into our mind, we should all develop our ability to use reason as to how we will act in response to these thoughts. The ability to reason is what gives us power over ourselves. Humans are not subject to animal instinct if we use reason.
Negotiation—Much of our experience in life comes down to how we interact and engage with other people. I think that life is a fine balance of delivering value to others so that you can get what you want as well. Therefore, all of our interactions with others is a negotiation of sorts. We are always negotiating how we will spend our time, where we will go, what we want in return for our labor or investment. We are even in negotiation when we are trying to decide what to talk about with others. Indeed, the ability to negotiate is a very powerful ability. I strongly suggest you exercise your ability to negotiate. I think you will find it will serve you well.
Persistence—The ability to keep going, to get up after falling down, to keep on keeping on is an ability that cannot be overstated when talking about a successful life. As I have already pointed out, life will no doubt deal you a series of problems. Until you figure out how to solve them, the ability to persist is what will drive you forward toward your goals. It has been said that Thomas Edison tried and failed over 10,000 times before he succeeded in creating the electric light bulb. Without his persistence, and the persistence of other great people throughout history, where would we be today? Without persistence, where will you be?
Compassion—Seeing life from another human’s perspective is a vital skill to have in life. I believe we owe to it each other as humans to develop compassion for the human condition. This condition is one of nature, and nature is not always kind to living beings, just as living beings are not always kind to one another. Kindness and cooperation is how our species thrives. Without compassion for others, true cooperation is not possible. This is especially true in relationships. Develop a capacity for compassion and watch your life transform as you begin to focus on how to deliver value and kindness to others. If you can do this, I promise the rewards will come back to you in orders of magnitude.
Curiosity—In order to unlock the secrets of the universe we must be curious. Great inventors, scientists, and philosophers all have one thing in common—curiosity. They are all curious to find out “why”? Why does something work the way it does? Why does someone act the way they do? Those who ask “why” have begun the process of discovery. I think the “meaning of life” itself is to discover what we are capable of, what the universe is comprised of, how we can help others, how we can overcome obstacles. All of these discoveries start with curiosity. All learning comes from curiosity.
Hunger–What separates the truly great from the average? It can be summed up in one word: hunger. Those who truly excel in anything have one trait that others do not, the hunger to do better and become better. It’s really that simple. Hunger demands that we keep looking to find food. But the truly great don’t stop when they find the food. They stay hungry. They don’t settle. The never stop trying to become better. Hunger keeps the lion moving and taking action. Humans are not much different in this regard.
Discipline—This ability must be learned and developed if any of the other abilities mentioned are going to be utilized. The lack of self-discipline is the leading cause of failure in any endeavor. As the great philosopher Epictetus stated, “No man is free who is not master of himself.” Indeed you must become the master of yourself, your body and mind if you are going to be truly free. Therefore, discipline = freedom. By becoming the master of ourselves, we allow ourselves to develop these Superhero abilities.
Do you possess any of the above abilities? You may just be a superhero and not know it yet. Are there a few that you must have not discovered inside yourself yet? With a little patience, discipline and training, you can develop these abilities that will allow you to thrive. There’s only one thing left… what will your Superhero name be?