surprising traits of successful people

Learn the traits of successful people, emulate those, and you will be mega successful, too.

You’ve heard that message before, right? Maybe you believe it. I’m not sure I do anymore.

I recently stumbled upon the NPR podcast How I Built ThisI fell in love with it immediately because the host, Guy Raz, interviewed some pretty successful people, but they weren’t the same names and stories you’ve heard over and over. For example, Spanx founder Sara Blakely, Clif bar founder Gary Erikson, and Pattagonia’s Yvon Chouinard were some of the first batch of interviews.

Then he interviewed billionaires Mark Cuban, Southwest Airlines’ Herb Kelleher, Tony Hsieh from Zappos, and the mac daddy of all billionaires, Richard Branson. When I saw these interviews added to the lineup, I stopped listening. Mostly because I’ve heard those stories before and I get tired of seeing the same rich and famous people pop up all over the place.

But I really like the way Guy Raz interviews people. He just asks them their story. He doesn’t try to get them to give the world their secrets to success. He asks them how they got started and what they were thinking and feeling at certain points along their journey. So I listened to those interviews of some of the most rich, most famous, most successful people on the plant. And I was surprised at one of the traits of successful people. In fact, it was the one they all seem to have in common.

Inevitably Guy asks a thought-provoking question such as, “Did you ever think what you started would become what it is today?

Not a single one of those rich, famous, successful people has answered yes to that question.

None of them set out to become billionaires. In fact, Mark Cuban even admitted the only reason he’s a billionaire instead of a millionaire is luck — he was in the right place at the right time with the right product. He also speculated that most of his friends in the billionaire club would say the same thing.

That feeling was echoed by Tony Hsieh, Herb Kelleher, and even Richard Branson. Sure, they each had a good idea and the drive to make it a reality. However, NONE of them had any idea their business would end up generating billions in revenue, create thousands of jobs, and change the world.

I find this strangely comforting. The last few years I’ve felt a strong pull away from trying to create something “epic and legendary”, and instead just work on making my business the absolute best that I can make it with the resources that I have. I’m following this same philosophy with my Superpower Summit retreat and my first book. I’m not concerned with building the biggest company I can. I’m focused on building the best. When I look back 30 years from now, I know that’s what I’ll be most proud of when it comes to my career and business.

Even though mega success is not what I’m after, I suppose it’s still nice to know I have at least one of the traits of successful people. And if I’m going to have anything in common with them, I’ll take this one every time.

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