They are some of the most well-known innovators of our time: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos.
They are also the founders and leaders of some of the world’s most highly successful companies.
But the fact is, each of them started out just like the rest of us. They were born human, some into established, stable homes, and some into difficult situations. None were handed success on a silver platter.
The question to be asked, then, is how are they so far ahead of the rest of us in many ways?
Here are their common traits and methodologies.
1. They are avid learners.
From early ages, they were each insatiable readers and hands-on learners. Elon Musk was such a voracious reader that, when he was young and ran out of books to read, he read the encyclopedia. Some graduated from college; others dropped out. But they never stopped learning. Learning was not about credentials. It was about supporting their goals.
2. They are thinkers.
Beyond learning, they have the common trait of being deep and continual thinkers. A good leader will always be thinking – of new and better ways to do things, of future innovations, and of ways to solve problems that may or may not even exist yet.
3. They take action.
Learning and thinking are bedrock. But there is a point where successful leaders and most others part ways: it is at the point of action. Intelligence and ideas go stagnant unless they are acted upon. These leaders take swift and massive action. It may not always lead to success, but they take action.
4. They connect.
While these leaders are thinkers and spend countless hours in quiet study and contemplation, another common trait is that they are also power connectors. They know how to connect with the people and tools to carry out the vision. Leadership cannot thrive in a silo, a lesson Steve Jobs learned at great cost. Connection applied to learning, thinking, and action is a powerful force.
5. They don’t accept status quo.
Each of these leaders refuses to accept status quo. What is “normal” for most of the population is not acceptable to them. Whether it be hours in a work week or established protocols, these innovators are constantly raising the lid on their goals and redefining the boundaries of success.
6. They discovered their paths of interest and actively pursued them.
Early on, each of these individuals found their unique interests and pursued them. They did not seek to be like anyone else…they simply worked in their strengths as they were intuitively inclined to do. For most, this discovery was not a straight path. It was more like a winding road of trial and error. But the key is, along the way, they discovered the path that best fit their strengths.
7. They set big goals and take major risks.
As much as these are undeniably some of the most successful leaders in the business world today, they are also some of the biggest risk takers. They do not take risk for small endeavors – they put it all on the line. Sometimes, they fail – and fail massively. But when they succeed, it is also on a major scale. As a business leader, you must be prepared to take risk. Calculated risks are advisable, but you cannot stay in your comfort zone if you expect to lead a successful business.
8. They have a purpose.
If you were to interview each of these leaders, you would quickly observe that their ambitions extend well beyond themselves, beyond money, and beyond the here and now. There are countless books and articles on finding purpose. Many may say it is all about earning a certain income. But these leaders have earned that income, and they know that purpose is what is on the other side of income.
While most of us do not have the seemingly unlimited income of these individuals, we can have businesses and lives based on purpose. In fact, it is highly advisable. Money is a motivator, but it is not strong enough to carry you to the outer limits of your potential. For that, you need a bigger purpose.
Steve Jobs understood this well. He took his core strengths (“Think Different”) to his core mission, which was essentially to “change the world.” And he did.
Do you think it is too late for you?
We may look at these leaders and think, “That’s great for them, but I am late to the ball game. I will never achieve their level of success.”
The good news is, you don’t have to. You are not responsible for their vision and mission. You ARE responsible for yours.
You can reach your level of success by applying those same characteristics and actions to your own leadership.
Start where you are…and lead with your strengths to a mission that is bigger than you. This is legacy.
To learn more about how you can use your strengths to your unique legacy, click here to learn about the Maxwell Method of Communication Impact Report.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.