What does it take to be successful?

What does it take to be successful? As I reflect on the qualities of leaders, from every walk of life, who have inspired and awed me, it seems they could probably write pages about what it takes...and each person's story would be different and compelling.

But let me suggest that there are some common denominators that transcend each person and each generation of successful people. As I struggle to sort out what qualities they have in common, these are the ones that stand out to me.

·        They are survivors. They have experienced disappointment and set backs, yet they always find a way to bounce back. They are truly resilient and courageous.

·        They make the most of opportunities they are given and create their own opportunities where there are none. They seek the crack in the wall or the way over the fence instead of complaining about unfairness or giving up.

·        They look for ways to add value. Doing enough isn't enough for them. They go beyond the minimum and exceeded expectations. No one demands it of them...they demand it of themselves.

·        They ignore critics. They look for ways to keep dreams alive and hopes on fire. Their strength comes from a depth of character and a singular focus on their goals. They even use their critics’ words to spur themselves on.

·        They continually improve themselves. In spite of family commitments and professional and volunteer activities, they are willing to develop themselves. They aren't looking for anything to be handed to them just because of their gender, race or position.

·        They have a vision...no, a passion. Their unswerving commitment to a greater good is their compass. They don't shrink from the hard work and perseverance that are required to make their vision a reality.

·        They are selfless. Hard work and long hours are easier to pour out when they benefit you, they are harder to sustain if they are for the good of others. In every case, they work tirelessly, in their own ways, to make their world a better place.

·        They never give up. Oh, I'm sure they have their moments, but they are able to reach down deep and find that extra reserve-- that hidden stash of personal energy and commitment.

·        They help others grow. They don't build their own success by using others. They know that if they can help their colleagues to be successful, they will themselves succeed.

·        They create synergy. Their accomplishments are achieved by bringing out the best in others and encouraging them to do more than they thought possible.

·        They need to make a difference. They want to build a better reality for the future and they aren't content with what's been done in the past...it's not enough.

·        They have guts. When it would be easier to sit back and wait for someone else to act, they muster the courage of their convictions and raise their hand.

·        They have strong values. They respect the dignity of other people, act with honesty and integrity and communicate openly and truthfully.

·        They don't believe in luck. They create their own at the intersection of opportunity and preparation.

·        They recognize the need for balance. They are torn in many directions but seem to be able to keep their priorities straight.

·        They create their own definition of success. Some are company presidents, others have never worked at a paying job, yet each person is successful and confident in their success. They aren't governed by other people's "shoulds".

·        They like being a role model for others and take it seriously. They know their families and communities are watching, and they are mindful that they setting an example and redefining roles for the next generation. And I thank them and admire them for holding up the light and leading the way.


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
 
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