Tips for success and for life Print
Youth Column
Thursday, Jun. 16, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

I'm going to start with the assumption that you want to be successful. That doesn't mean you want to be the CEO of a company with thousands of employees. Success can be defined in countless ways. Regardless of your definition of success, it is only going to happen if you work at it.

For many of us, it's the "work at it" part that causes difficulty. How do you work at being a leader? How do you work at being respected by those you encounter?

The answer to all questions is less about what you do and more about who you are. Fortunately, if you do things that lead to success, you will become someone people see as successful.

What kind of activities lead to success? Certainly, some are job specific. If you want to create buildings, you study architecture and engineering. Likewise, if you want to manage or own a restaurant, you not only need to know how to cook, you also need basic financial knowledge to make sure you're earning enough money to stay in business.

But there are skills and characteristics that are universal for anyone who wants to be a leader or successful.

Recently I saw someone ask on Quora, "From the perspective of a CEO, what are the most underrated skills most employees lack?" I thought the answers were revealing because they didn't focus on tasks. They were all about attitude.

Several CEOs who responded wrote about the importance of problem-solving skills. Successful people know how to solve difficult problems. That's important because the hardest problems are often those that don't have clear solutions. Problem-solvers know how to break large, complex issues into smaller, manageable obstacles with directions that are easy to understand.

Other CEOs spoke about the importance of taking responsibility, although one called it something different. He said more people need to take ownership. If there's a problem, make it yours. Own it. Solve it quickly and efficiently. If you can deliver without drama, that's a plus, one said. That's a good thing because it means you're trusted. Keep solving and you're on the path to success.

Don't be selfish in your solutions though. It's easy to focus on what's best for you and your success; you also should focus on what's best for others. Being selfish can only get you so far. Being selfless will take you the rest of the way.

One person who responded to the query works for a large consulting company and sorts through hundreds or thousands of resumes to identify a handful of appropriate candidates. He said the most underrated skill is humor. His logic made sense. He explained that people who see humor in life can turn around difficult encounters and defuse conflicts. That's another tool for success, which is important when there are many people and few available positions.

No matter how you pursue success, keep an open mind. The suggestions listed above aren't just valuable business skills, they're good life skills, too. Think about them during every situation you encounter.

The only person who can create your definition of success is you. Approach life in a way that complements the success you want to achieve. Keep getting better at the things you're already good at. That's how you "work at it."

Erick Rommel is a former staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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