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Traits that differentiate successful people from others

 

A woman smiling at her desk. 

If being successful was easy, everyone would be successful. But most people are not. The reason is that their habits do not lend themselves to success. Here are five unique habits of successful people.

They know how to think

Thinking is not as straightforward as we believe it is. There is a whole book about How Successful People Think, which implies that they do it quite differently from others. So what’s the difference between their thought processes and those of regular people? According to the book, being intentional about their thoughts is a great start. One of them, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, has a thinking schedule where he sets aside a half-day every two weeks, a whole day every month, and two or three full days every year just to think. Apply the 80/20 rule (also known as the Pareto Principle) to thinking, where you devote 80% of your energy should be focused on 20% of your most important activities. That kind of laser-sharp focus achieves more results. Also, expose yourself to different people and ideas, give thoughts time to form – not just going with the first one that appears in your mind, execute good ideas immediately, reject popular thinking, plan ahead but leave room for spontaneity, and do things differently to think differently and regularly do reflective thinking.

They are positive

Tom Corley, who spent five years studying the habits of 177 self-made millionaires, concluded from his research that negativity is a nearly insurmountable barrier to success. As in, negative people very rarely succeed. According to him, negativity suppresses the prefrontal cortex in your brain, which is critical for creativity, decision-making, and seeing solutions rather than just problems. It also creates chronic stress and makes you a toxic person that other people who could be critical to your success will avoid. However, you shouldn’t just be positive around other people to get along with them. You should be positive if you want to have a more successful life. Positivity gives you the energy and discipline to pursue your goals, as you are more confident in not only achieving them but also tweaking your plans if you do not succeed on the first try. When you are positive, failures are just lessons that help you adjust where you need to. Forley’s recommendations for cultivating positivity are: find things to be grateful for every day, read inspirational books, exercise, avoid reading too much negative news, focus on upbeat news, listen to upbeat music, associate with upbeat people and meditate.

They have the right social skills

Having emotional intelligence is key to having good social skills. Being constantly negative around other people is going to make them not want to associate with you, a recipe for disaster since to be successful, you need other people. Arrogance is also just a poor approximation of self-confidence. It will never be the real deal, nobody buys it, and it only antagonizes people toward you. A study done by the University of Akron showed that arrogant people tend to perform poorly at work. Acting like you are superior to other people makes them want to avoid you at all costs. In addition, learn to control your anger. People with short fuses are unpleasant to be around, and again, you will be avoided by others.

They know how to argue

Successful people know how to talk about an issue with someone who disagrees with them without getting angry. Facts, not emotions, should be at the core of the argument. Don’t lash out, but be direct. In addition, opinions are not facts. Do not state yours as if they are. What you feel should be stated as a feeling. Stick to what you want to achieve from the argument so that whatever you say will lead to the desired outcome. Do not use the word ‘you’ too much as it comes out as accusatory and only puts the other person on the defensive instead of on the topic of the argument. Orders and threats will likely backfire. Remember the human when arguing. The person you are talking to believes they are right in the same way that you do, so put yourself in their show and try to see it from their point of view. It will also help you see how they could react to what you will say.

They are strong-minded

Weak-minded people find someone or something else to blame when things go wrong in their lives, but strong-minded people take responsibility for improving their situation even when what happened was not their fault. Action will achieve a lot more results than rumination. You might have been the victim, but do not make that role your permanent residence. Successful people are masters at making the most out of terrible situations and even turning them into opportunities for growth. Being strong-minded also means that you speak your mind with confidence rather than cowering. People can usually tell from your tone and posture that you lack confidence in what you are saying. Do not frame your ideas as questions, and do not be overly apologetic.