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How Studying Highly Successful People Makes You Highly Successful

How Studying Highly Successful People Makes You Highly Successful

As babies we learn to crawl, walk, eat and talk by modeling or watching others.  This idea of studying others through conscious observance is the best method for achieving success. Simply put: we are what we do. Some of the most influential people in my life, who have trained me to become the independent person I am today, are successful people I’ve never even met. Here are seven ways you can learn from others who are highly successful.

1. Learn to never pity yourself.

Liz Murray defeated the odds that were against her. From a child of drug-addicted parents to a homeless Harvard student, Murray rose to become an international speaker and author. Her story came to me through a Lifetime documentary called “Homeless to Harvard,” and the strength of Murray’s spirit encouraged me. I cried during the movie thinking about what it must have taken by way of intestinal fortitude to get her high school diploma. She then progressed to the level of what many consider highly successful.

After watching, I researched the woman in an attempt to learn why she had the ability to succeed where others like her deteriorated into self-pity. I saw the strength of her determination to get what she knew she deserved. I learned never to pity myself. One day I too may inspire even just one person.

2. Learn to scream in an empty room, but whisper in an auditorium.

Since the early ‘90s the progressive rock band Tool has been growing a strong following, but the band only released one E.P. and four full-length albums total as of 2014. Watching and studying the front man, Maynard James Keenan, has tuned me into some keen business decisions. The first of which is marketing.

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Keenan said during interviews that an auditorium full of people will quiet to hear a whisper. Once an entertainer or a leader speaks loudly enough (screaming in an almost empty room) the message will carry, but to maintain the level of interest one needs to back off and let the audience clamor for more. The concept of whispering in an auditorium shows true insight to the factors that make someone interesting and therefore successful.

Readers may not know that Keenan started Tool on a dare, but a quick Internet search will prove that this one man took an idea and ran with it. He greatly improved the sense of what it takes to make it as an independent musician (and now wine maker).

3. Learn the importance of networking.

Ben Franklin has been called “The First American” and what his model teaches is one of networking. At his core, Franklin understood human nature, psychology and marketing. Perhaps because he came from blue-collar roots, Franklin understood not only himself but also his community. He wrote as well as published the famous Pennsylvania Gazette.

Though Franklin didn’t overcome the kind of debilitating struggles that Murray did, and though he wasn’t promoting a true creative project, like a band, what he did showed triumph over the economic and political scene of a country still finding itself. When one man can find himself in a country that hasn’t yet settled on what it is, that is inspirational.

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4. Learn the meaning of being true to yourself.

When I think of a true leader and a true independent spirit who has inspired me to be successful, I think of and study from folk singer and guitar player Ani DiFranco.

I named my cat after Ani because her success came as a result of fierce hard work. To my knowledge DiFranco wasn’t abandoned in the wild, forced to fend for food among literal wolves. But, as a female songwriter in a predominantly male-run business, she cloaked herself and persevered until she had the success and the guts to shake off her mask and sing out from her soul.

After watching DiFranco release album after album, I take so much stock of her ceaseless energy. The only times she didn’t release at least an album a year, complete with tour, is when she had her babies. I know in February 2012 she played on an Atlanta stage with unborn baby rocking in her belly.

One of the single most inspirational things about DiFranco’s success is how she not once stooped to plastic surgery. Her varying hairstyles and sensible makeup never portrayed an ounce of pretentiousness. Aging with grace is something DiFranco shows to all the females who pay attention.

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5. Learn to live in the moment.

Living in the moment truly is a difficult task because humans, by design,stress and fret about the future. The one successful individual who most comes to mind when I think of how I’ve mirrored this attitude is Dan Millman. A former world champion athlete, university coach, and college professor, Millman wrote the book “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” as fiction but based on many of his real-life experiences. The movie adaptation struck me as a solid lesson in living life on life’s terms.

When we quiet the bustle of the day, we can hear the buzzing of the bees, and we live in the moment. Life is beautiful and no amount of stressful striving can replace the success that comes from enjoying the life we each have.

6. Take time to truly listen.

A successful person doesn’t necessarily need to be a famous or wealthy individual. Taking the time to listen to those who are successful in love, those who are educated and those with experience can provide the best lessons of all. A grandparent, a parent and even a teacher or coach can have the most impact on your success.

In taking the time to listen you learn how others overcame their struggles, whether from fighting oppression or learning from poor decisions. When we study those who are successful we learn from their mistakes and avoid having to learn everything the hard way.

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7. Take calculated risks known as investments.

Many students blindly register for and attend expensive universities, colleges and graduate schools because they think that a piece of paper means more opportunity for success. Look around at those who actually graduate and become successful; following those patterns will help you become successful as well.

Education is expensive, but not as expensive as ignorance. Thinking critically and modeling others will nearly ensure success because the first step involves understanding what you want. One cannot become successful without trying. Even the examples of individuals who seemingly became overnight sensations had a team of people working toward that goal.

In educating yourself, choose a mentor to study. Take notes from that person and how he or she spends time and budgets money. Through studying others who have achieved success, it is possible to become successful.

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Last Updated on August 7, 2018

14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

14 Powerful Leadership Traits That All Great Leaders Have

Being a leader of a company or organization is certainly a difficult and often frustrating position – but it can also be tremendously rewarding.

Whether you’re just starting out as a leader, or have been leading for a while, you’ll be sure to benefit from knowing the essential traits that all great leaders possess.

Effective and successful leaders transcend the title of ‘manager’ or ‘boss’. They’ve found a way to achieve the perfect combination of charisma, enthusiasm and self-assurance (with a healthy dose of luck and timing probably added to the mix).

It may seem like some people are gifted with leadership skills, but the truth is most leadership traits can be learned, adopted, and strengthened with time and practice.

As we delve into the list of effective leadership traits, you will learn the behaviors and attitudes of a good leader.

The 14 most important leadership traits

Please read through the list of leadership qualities carefully. Take note of which of the traits you excel at – and which ones you need to work at.

Traits for better self-development

1. Vision and mission

Having a clear picture of what needs to be achieved is a crucial quality of good leadership.

This vision is often communicated in a mission statement, such as this one from Starbucks:

    How to develop vision? Spend time pinpointing what you need to achieve, and then plan the steps to get there. Here’s a complete guide on creating your own vision.

    2. Self-motivated

    It’s no coincidence that successful leaders have an abundance of self-motivation.

    Without a decent level of self-motivation, you’ll struggle to become a strong and respected leader. However, if you don’t have a lot of self-motivation right now, don’t despair.

    One of the secrets is to have definite goals to keep you motivated at all times. Some people also choose to reward themselves every time they achieve a goal, and this is certainly a good way to keep yourself enthused and motivated. Learn how to set an ambitious yet achievable goal here.

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    3. Optimism and positivity

    Positive energy is contagious. Great leaders are overflowing with this type of energy.

    Not only does a positive mindset make leaders easy to work with, but it also gives them a constant source of inspiration and ideas.

    Tap into this energy by aligning yourself with positive people and positive goals. Find out more about the habits of positive people here.

    4. Emotional stability

    In leadership positions, frustration and stress are daily occurrences. This is why leaders need to have strong and stable emotions. They can’t allow themselves to be easily knocked off track.

    If you’re prone to losing your emotional stability when stressed or frustrated, try some of these techniques: breath deeply and slowly for 30 seconds, go for a walk, drink some water (instead of tea or coffee), turn your focus onto something you can resolve. Here’re some effective ways to control your emotions.

    5. Self-confidence

    Watch a presentation by any CEO and you’ll see that even if they’re not natural presenters – they make up for this by having powerful self-confidence.

    It’s not just CEOs who have self-confidence, any successful leader will have this trait in abundance. One reason for this, is that only a confident person can persuade others and gain their respect.

    Worried that you have low self-confidence? Try faking it. Psychologists often recommend that if you ‘act’ at being confident, you’ll start to look, sound and feel like you ARE confident. And in time… you will be.

    If you look for more ways to boost your self-confidence, this confidence coach has got you some nice advice:

    How to Be Confident: 62 Proven Ways to Build Self-Confidence

    6. Decisiveness

    Leaders are frequently called upon to make decisions (some leaders may have to make dozens of decisions every day). In fact, you could say that making decisions is one of the key things a leader must do.

    Spend some time observing highly-successful leaders and you’ll see that they are quick to make decisions. They also enjoy making decisions, rather than stressing out like many non-leaders do when they’re asked to decide on something.

    Put yourself in the leadership bracket by developing your decision-making skills. Start with small decisions – and then work your way up to bigger and more difficult decisions. Once other people notice your decision-making prowess, they’ll automatically see you as leadership material.

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    I know it’s really quite difficult to make the right decisions sometimes, but don’t worry, here’s a guide for you:

    How To Make Good Decisions All The Time

    7. Passion and enthusiasm

    Expressive. Active. Energetic. These are words best describe a passionate leader.

    Great leaders are lively, driven and are possessed with zeal and purpose. It’s this passion that helps them achieve big results. If you want to emulate their success, then you need to develop passion and enthusiasm for the work at hand, and the end goals.

    Take a look at this Passion Pyramid to find out how importance a leader’s passion is to the team:

      One way to do this is to find what motivates you, and keep your focus firmly on that. For example, i f you’re motivated by helping others, then make sure your role and company are both suited to realizing this. If you’re motivated by money, then put your focus on achieving bonuses and pay rises.

      Take a look at Leo Babauta’s guide on how to find your passion.

      8. Accountability and responsibility

      Exceptional leaders know that at all times they’ll need to take responsibility for tasks and their results. This includes things likes individual and team performance, as well as being accountable for when things go wrong.

      When negative things occur (and you can guarantee they will from time-to-time), a great leader will immediately step in and take responsibility. Initially, they’ll try to resolve the problem in as quick and smooth a way as possible. But if this is not feasible, they’ll be sure to say that the buck stops with them – and they take full responsibility for what has happened.

      To develop your leadership skills, you must never shy away from responsibility or accountability. If you prefer to sweep mistakes under the carpet, then you’re demonstrating non-leadership traits. Try owning up to issues and finding solutions to them. By doing this, you’ll immediately gain people’s respect.

      Find out some tips on how to be a more responsible person here.

      9. Focus

      Distractions are everywhere. And it takes major focus to stay committed to tasks and goals. The best leaders understand this, and therefore, they’re always looking at ways to boost their team’s focus.

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      One way leaders do this, is to keep their team intensely focused on the bigger picture. This might entail allocating specific time for tasks and eliminating any non-essential work.

      If you’re easily knocked off track, you’ll need to spend some time boosting your focus. Try planning your day, week, month and year to help ensure that you don’t fall behind with achieving your goals. Check out the 7 strategies of staying super focus recommended by a productivity coach.

      10. Ever-learning

      Leaders know that to be successful they need to continually update their skills and knowledge. They deliberately learn all they can about their profession and industry, so they’ll able to make confident and assured decisions.

      Why is ever learning so important? I’ll leave it to you to find out the reason here:

      If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

      Imagine a CEO of a solar power company. His company may have amazing solar panels, but when it comes to discussing business with potential buyers, if the CEO or his sales team show a lack of understanding about the solar industry and future trends, etc., they’ll be unlikely to win any business.

      It’s exactly the same for you. If you’re a team leader at an electronics store, you should make sure you fully understand all the products that you offer. But go beyond just that, and read about upcoming products and trends that might change what customers are interesting in buying in the future.

      Traits for effective communication

      11. Empathy

      The best leaders understand the feeling of their team members, customers and associates. They know when to praise, and when to discuss problems (usually in private).

      Without empathy, leaders will be seen as cold, harsh and lacking understanding. They’re also likely to be regarded as untrustworthy.

      One way to ‘put yourself in someone else’s shoes’ is to have regular informal discussions with your colleagues. When you do this, you’ll quickly learn their fears and desires. And when you understand why they have these – you’ll be in a position to express empathy. You can also learn to be more sensitive to others’ needs by taking up these communication skills.

      12. Persuasive and influential

      Communications are at the heart of all transactions. Whether it’s pitching for a sale or resolving a customer complaint, how you communicate will determine the outcome.

      Charismatic leaders such as Richard Branson (Virgin) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) are confident and persuasive communicators. They know how to win over audiences and leave a lasting impressing in people’s minds.

      There’re some common barriers that you’ll have to overcome in order to communicate effectively:

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      How to learn effective communication? You could join the world-renowned U.S. nonprofit Toastmasters International. They’ve been training people in the art of public speaking since 1924, and members have included Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, and Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy.

      If you don’t have time to join a club, then practice your communications skills at home. You can do this in front of a mirror, or even better, video yourself presenting, and then ask some friends and family members for feedback. You’ll be amazed at what they pick up on.

      Traits for ensuring an engaging team

      13. Team building

      If you put a bunch of random people together, you may have a loose definition of a team. In reality, a real team has purpose, drive – and a leader lighting the way.

      If you’ve worked in different teams and with different managers, you’ll no doubt have come to this conclusion:

      Managers who treat their team members like children are unpopular with the team. Conversely, managers who treat their team members like adults, are respected and well-liked by the team.

      The days of disciplinarian managers are passed. Nowadays, successful team leaders know how to inspire and motivate their team, while keeping a harmonious atmosphere between all team members.

      14. Fostering creativity

      Solutions to problems are rarely black and white. Often it takes a leader who can ‘think outside the box’ to come up with answers. In other words, a leader must be creative, and also help to foster creativity and innovation throughout their team.

      Creativity is not only associated with pursuits such as arts, literature and music, running a team can be just as creative. There will be times every day when you need to come up with ideas and give guidelines for your team to come up with theirs to solve problems.

      Leadership is a journey of continuous learning

      Leadership is an amazing experience that will take you on roads you’ve never traveled before.

      Begin now to build your skills and experience, pick out the traits that you currently lack – and then work on developing those.

      It will take tons of practice and time before becoming an effective leader but eventually you will join the ranks of great leaders.

      Featured photo credit: unsplash via unsplash.com

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