September 12, 2012

5 key characteristics of successful professionals

Please join me in welcoming guest writer Karen Smith today. Because we all wannabe successful businessmen and -women throughout our careers, I'm sure you'll enjoy her article. Who wants to learn these 5 characteristics with me??

There are a host of wildly successful people in this world. Even though no two individuals are designed exactly the same, many of the most successful business minds share a handful of personality traits. In the modern business world, in fact, there are a number of required characteristics it takes to become successful, accomplished businessmen and businesswomen. For years, I've seen many people attempt to move up the ranks in business only to fail because they haven't cultivated the traits it takes to climb up the ladder. For those of you who are trying to succeed and grow in business, here are five key characteristics you should try to nurture and embrace in your career.

1. Start the day early
Waking up early in the day increases your production tremendously. The most successful businessmen and women rise early not only to get work done and arrive at the office early, but also to check off an agenda list of items, such as exercising, eating breakfast, writing out to-do lists, reading the newspaper, etc. By getting these menial tasks out of the way, individuals are better able to focus their attention on the work day ahead of them. If you're at work and thinking about getting to the gym, picking up the dry cleaning, or reading the news online, you're not going to be able to devote your full attention to the work that needs to be done in the moment.

2. Do things now, not later
A little procrastination from time to time never hurt anyone. Yet when it becomes a common, habitual behavior, procrastination can ruin your ability to produce consistent, stellar work. For the sake of producing the best work possible, go ahead and get your work done now and not later. In the moment, it may seem tempting to push something a day back, but doing so will inevitably come back to haunt you and your productivity. Not only are you delaying other projects, you'll be more likely to rush your work, which leaves room for low-quality, sloppy work. Therefore, if an agenda item needs to get done, go ahead and do it right away.

3. Avoid distractions
Distractions present themselves in various forms throughout the work day. Early in the morning, you may have a desire to read the news online as opposed to responding to work emails. Later in the day, your colleague may want to pull you aside to chat about the latest office gossip. The most successful businessmen and women avoid distractions at all costs. Distractions are something we all must face, and even though they are hard to avoid, the only way to reach your highest productivity potential is to do away with any distractions. A fifteen-minute break to grab a cup of coffee or go for a walk outside can't hurt, but if it gets in the way of your productivity or daily goals, your work is inevitably going to be affected.

4. Make friends with colleagues
Team players are some of the most respected individuals in the office. Let's face it: everybody can appreciate someone who works hard and plays well with others. I've seen one too many people try to pit themselves against fellow employees for promotions and raises, only to find that they are doing more harm than good to their office reputation. If you want to be respected by your bosses and colleagues, make an effort to get to know each of them on a personal, friendly basis. You don't have to invite them over to your home for family affairs, just try to get to know a little more about each and every one of them, such as their personal hobbies, favorite sports teams, the names of their intermediate family members, etc.

5. Have a vision
If all you can stomach about your job is putting in the bare minimum amount of work required, it's not likely you'll climb your way up the career ladder. In order to be successful, you have to love the work you're doing in your career. Alas, it's not always easy to love your work, especially when there is so much pressure and expectation encompassed in it. Yet as long as you have a passion for the work you're doing, you should be able to find some fulfillment and pride in your career. If you haven't done so already, go ahead and think about where you see your career five to ten years down the road and cultivate an ambitious vision. If you want to get that big promotion, start planning out what you'll have to do to achieve it. As long as you have a strong vision, you should be on your way to a number of successes.

No two successful people are the same, but many of them share a number of key traits and personal habits. If you wish to become a successful businessman or businesswoman, try adapting these five habits into your endeavors.

Karen Smith, a former newspaper reporter and globe trotter, now freelances for various publications and websites. She hopes to bring her readers the latest in business education at, as well as up-to-date, informed advice on everything from careers to parenting to health and more. Karen welcomes your comments below!

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