Qualities that drive success


qualities for success

By Paul Clifford and Amy Jaya

The following are the authors’ opinions on qualities that drive success.  Any others to add?  If so leave a comment at the end of this blog.

Emotional control

The more time you spend thinking and doing rather than being emotional the more productive you’ll be. Getting worked up about what should or should not be happening is wasted time. It gets in the way of you logically working your way out of a problem.  Turning negative self talk that fuels unhelpful emotion, into positive self talk that fuels logical solutions, requires determination and disciplined practice. It is also far more easily achieved if the issues that trigger your emotion have been dealt with and healed.

Focus on others

I remember reading a story about two train travellers sitting together. One of them (let’s call him Brad) had started asking the other (let’s call him Fred) a number of questions. Brad was interested in other people and liked to help others out where he could. He was also humble and rarely spoke of his ambitions or achievements.  After 20 minutes of Brad asking Fred questions and listening to Fred talk about his life, Brad said farewell and got off the train. That night Fred went home and told his wife about meeting Brad. Fred said “I met this really interesting guy on the train this morning”. When his wife asked him what Brad did and where he came from, Fred suddenly realised he didn’t know the first thing about him. Fred found Brad interesting because Brad was interested.


“If it is to be it is up to me”. Whilst it is important that we don’t take on everything ourselves, it is far worse when we start expecting other people to be doing things for us and then getting emotional when they don’t. The best way to secure the outcome you want is to take the initiative and make it happen. Take your destiny into your own hands, which leads on to the next quality.

Be influential

Did you know that there is more to influence than logical argument?  There are many other approaches you can use to influence people.  They include:

  • Involvement – if you involve other people in generating the solution they are more likely to believe in it, promote it and implement it.
  • Recruiting – don’t propose a solution to a group without first testing the waters with key individuals.  You need to suss out any potential opposition, get them on board and then recruit them to influence others.  In a group setting when you haven’t done this pre-work, opponents may be more influential than you and sabotage your efforts.
  • Praising – genuine, and I stress genuine praise is a powerful influencing strategy.   If someone is good at something and you want them to take on a role doing it, why not use praise.  You’re telling the truth and encouraging someone to feel good about using their strengths.
  • Benefiting – this is the ‘what’s in it for me’ and is especially powerful for influencing others who want to know how something is going to be good for them.  Here you need to identify the features of your solution and clearly articulate how others will benefit from them.

These are just some of the strategies that you can use.  Two other factors are important when thinking about influencing others.

The first is your attitude to influencing.  Influencing done right is not manipulation.  Influence is something we do every day for good reason.

The second is the level of influence we obtain.  There are three levels of influence – compliance, identification and internalisation.  If someone complies they may not believe in what you are asking them to do and you may have to constantly push them to do it on subsequent occasions.  If someone identifies with the request, they believe intellectually that there is a good and valid reason for doing what they have been asked to do.  This makes them more likely to do it again without having to be told.

The third and deepest level of influence is internalisation.  This level addresses the person’s values and beliefs.  It taps into their emotions.  At this level a person will become a true advocate for the course of action and will not only do it of their own free will but will actively encourage others to do the same.

As an example if you are trying to influence a group of people to follow a new road law, some will internalise it when you explain how it will result in lower taxes (their value of financial security) while others will internalise it when they realise it will save lives (their value of altruism).

The key to influencing is using the right strategies with the right person, potentially using multiple strategies at once and understanding what other people value as a way of getting them to internalise your solution.

Don’t assume

Highly effective people minimise the number of assumptions they make about others and the events around them.  Assumptions often lead us to formulate critical judgements about others which sometimes we act on by lashing out unfairly at those people.  We can sabotage relationships when we assume and criticise others without seeking their side of the story first.


Highly effective people have an ability to make a tough message sound palatable.  They start by appreciating the value of giving constructive messages – that the message will help the other person and that delivering the message will build their own self-esteem.  Assertiveness starts with believing in your right to stand up for yourself.

Effective delivery of feedback has respect for the person receiving the message at its heart.  Your end goal is to create behaviour change and that’s rarely going to happen by you coming down hard on the person or lecturing them.  The best way to demonstrate respect is to start with an intent statement – an explanation of why you are giving that person feedback.  For example, “I am telling you this because I really value our relationship and I think my feedback will help us relate better to each other”.  Assertiveness also requires you to state the message unapologetically, give the receiver an opportunity to provide their side of the story, listen and empathise (different to agreeing) and invite the receiver to come up with solutions.


When you respond in the same way to problems in your life, others feel they can trust you.  A manager who always responds calmly when someone raises a problem and patiently guides her employees through solutions will win their trust.  “I trust my manager because I know she’ll always respond constructively to any issue I put to her”.  Inconsistency, on the other hand breeds distrust and anxiety.  As an example, imagine you raise a problem with your boss.  Your boss tells you not to worry.  The next day you raise a problem and your boss yells at you.  Not only will you be nervous the next time you raise an issue – “what response will I get today?” – you’ll also wonder whether your boss is giving you an honest answer.

The above are seven qualities we believe drive success.  Any others to add?  If so, leave a comment below.

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