Some successful people make serious money. Other successful people focus less on money and more on living the way they want to live. Other successful people… never mind. Everyone’s definition of success is different, and should be. But money and personal fulfillment aren’t the only rewards of success — or the sole driver.

The most successful people I know also possesses qualities that make a significant impact on their colleagues, their employees, their industry, their communities… and most importantly, on the lives of other people.

If that sounds like you, here are nine things you’re almost surely too modest to brag about:

1. You find happiness in the success of others.


Great business teams win because their most talented members are willing to sacrifice to make others happy. Great teams are made up of employees who help each other, know their roles, set aside personal goals, and value team success over everything else.

Where does that attitude come from? You.

Every successful person answers the question, “Can you make the choice that your happiness will come from the success of others?” with a resounding “Yes!”

2. You’re incredibly empathetic.

Unless you create something entirely new — which is very hard to do — your business or career is based on fulfilling an existing need or solving a problem. It’s impossible to identify a need or a problem without the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, and that’s the mark of successful people.

But many go a step farther, regularly putting themselves in the shoes of the people they work and live with.

Success isn’t a line trending upwards. Success is a circle. No matter how high your business — and your ego — soars, success still comes back to the people who support you.


3. You relentlessly seek new experiences.

Novelty seeking — getting bored easily and throwing yourself into new pursuits or activities — is often linked to gambling, drug abuse, attention deficit disorder, andleaping out of perfectly good airplanes without a parachute.

But according to Dr. Robert Cloninger, “Novelty seeking is one of the traits that keeps you healthy and happy and fosters personality growth as you age… if you combine adventurousness and curiosity with persistence and a sense that it’s not all about you, then you get the creativity that benefits society as a whole.”

As Cloninger says, “To succeed, you want to be able to regulate your impulses while also having the imagination to see what the future would be like if you tried something new.”

And that’s why you embrace your inner novelty seeker: it makes you healthier, makes you have more friends, and makes you more satisfied with your life. (But still, you don’t brag about it — that’s just who you are.)

4. You don’t think work/life balance; you just think life.

Symbolic work-life boundaries are almost impossible to maintain. Why? You areyour business or career. Your career is your life, just like your life is your career — which is also true for family, friends, and interests — so there is no separation. All those things make you who you are.

And that’s why you find ways to include your family instead of ways to exclude your work. You find ways to include interests, hobbies, passions, and personal values in your daily business life.

If you can’t, you’re not living — you’re just working.

5. You have something to prove — to yourself.

Many people have a burning desire to prove other people wrong. That’s a great motivator.

But you’re driven by something deeper and more personal. True drive, commitment, and dedication springs from a desire to prove something to the most important person of all.


6. You ignore the 40-hour workweek hype.

Studies show that working more than 40 hours a week decreases productivity.

Whatever. Every successful person I know who reads those articles is thinking, “Cool. Hopefully my competitors believe that crap.”


Successful people work smarter, sure, but they also outwork their competition.

Author Richard North Patterson tells a great story about Robert Kennedy. Kennedy was seeking to indict Teamsters head Jimmy Hoffa (who some believe is chilling in Argentina with Elvis and Jim Morrison). One night Kennedy worked on the Hoffa case until about 2 a.m. One his way home he passed the Teamsters building and saw the lights were still on in Hoffa’s office, so he turned around and went back to work.

There will always be people who are smarter and more talented than you. And that’s okay — because you want it more. You’re ruthless, especially with yourself. You work smarter and harder.

That’s a secret of your success.

7. You see money as a responsibility, not a reward.

Many rise-and-fall cautionary tales involve buying 17 cars, loading up on pricey antiques, importing Christmas trees, and spending $40,000 a year for a personal masseuse.

(Wait — maybe that’s just Adelphia founder John Rigas.)

You, on the other hand, don’t see money solely as a personal reward; you see money as a way to grow your business, to reward and develop employees, to give back to the community… in short, not just to make your own life better but to improve the lives of other people, too.

And most importantly you do so without fanfare, and definitely without bragging, because the true reward is always in the act, not the recognition.

8. You don’t think you’re special.

In a world of social media everyone can be their own PR agent. It’s incredibly easy for of us to blow our own horns and bask in the glow of our insight and accomplishment.

You don’t. You accept your success is based on ambition, persistence, and execution… but you also recognize that key mentors, remarkable employees, and a huge dose of luck also played a part.

Instead you reap the rewards of humility by asking questions, seeking advice, recognizing and praising others…

9. You know success is fleeting,  but dignity and respect last forever.


Providing employees with higher pay, better benefits, and greater opportunities is certainly important. But no level of pay and benefits can overcome damage to self-esteem and self-worth.

The most important thing you provide employees, customers, vendors — everyone you meet — is dignity.

And that’s why you always do… because you know that when you do, everythingelse follows.

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