Many of my friends are aghast that I don't fritter my time away on social media (like they do).
Hey — everyone has their addictions. I get it.
Anyway, one not-quite-social media site I find fascinating is Quora. Lots of interesting people and great content.
I admit I lurk more than I contribute.
However, someone recently posed a really interesting question, and I felt moved to answer.
The question was:
"What is the most important attributes of a successful person?"
The best one-line answer I saw was: "Subject-verb agreement."
But I know better. Some successful people have terrible spelling and less-than-stellar grammar.
(Not everyone's a writer, y'know.
And I even know world-class copywriters and best-selling authors who make stupid writing mistakes all the time.)
I thought about the question a lot and came up with what I think is an unusual answer — maybe even a unique one.
Because of the feedback I got on my answer, I decided to post it here an share it with you.
More on the feedback in a minute.
First, my answer about the most important attribute of successful people, originally posted on Quora:
It's the ability to handle paradoxes.
Successful people are very impatient, yet they are also unshakably patient in the long-term view. They want steps completed well as quickly as possible, but they also know some things take work... time... tweaking... and it only hurts to rush those things.
They fight to get credit that they feel is due (sometimes they know that's not due) when it will further their aims, but they are smart or dumb-lucky enough to "take one for the team" and let others have all the credit when it fits -- even when the others don't deserve it.
They are rigid as concrete with steel reinforcement when it comes to their determination to achieve what they want. But they are measuredly flexible in how to get there. And, they are resilient with setbacks and total fails. Maybe not right away -- successful people need time to lick their wounds, just like everybody else -- but successful people don't put that much time into feeling sorry for themselves, either.
They can be remarkable detached from their emotions and think logically with great power. But they can also tap deep into their emotional cores (some, to be sure, more than others).
And, most successful people I've met are high-energy. Yet there are times when they appear so lazy and scattered that you wonder how they ever got anything done.
Success is a journey. And journeys are not always smooth or fun. Sometimes journeys don't go as planned. Sometimes, they lead to places you never imagined, including places you had spent your whole life hoping you would never go.
Successful people are committed to the journey, take them where it may.
A Quora buddy of mine, who's not given to spewing out indiscriminate praise, told me, "That's an amazing amount of insight, David. If you don't mind my asking, how did you acquire such familiarity?"
Heh. The first question was a lot easier to answer than his.
But I thought about it, and figured I might as well share that as well:
Charles, thank you.
So, several ways and places:
- I'm a direct response advertising copywriter. This job has opened my eyes to the reality of human behavior -- not the way anyone might want it to be, but the way it actually is -- better than anything I can think of. (Anything else, that is.)
- I coach a lot of successful people. I need to get to know them -- especially their minds, their patterns, their behaviors -- better than they know themselves, to be of any real value and use to them.
- I'm an obsessive student of psychology (both the voodoo suppositions about the unconscious mind, and external studies of observable human behavior). In my roles as a copywriter... a coach... and a human walking through life... I need to figure out how all of what I learned applies. So I do.
- I talk about this shit a lot with friends who know more than I do, at least about some or many aspects of it.
- I'm a songwriter. To write songs, you must discover how to talk with your own heart. You learn a lot that way.
OK, I just gave you my thoughts.
So... what are your thoughts?
At the risk of being labeled a grammar bully, I'll rephrase the question so the subject and verb just get along...
What are the most important attributes of successful people?