Keys to Tapping Your Own Potential

Success is the business of trying to improve the things you do. Success is growing and developing. It's accepting bigger and greater challenges. And it begins with having a dream.

"To find your dream, ask yourself what your passion or purpose is, and then pursue it," says Jeff Mayer, author of several books on succeeding in business and life. "After you have a well-defined purpose and know what you want to do, a master plan of action -- a business plan, if you will, for your future -- is essential. Finally, you must have persistence to stick with it and make it happen."

What is success?

Mr. Mayer has spent years studying the skills, talents and characteristics of successful people.

"As you look at the list of talents and characteristics that follow, you'll realize you possess many of them yourself, and those that you lack, you can acquire," says Mayer.

  • Successful people have ambition. They want to accomplish something. "They have commitment, pride and self-discipline," he says. "They're willing to work hard and to go the extra mile."

  • Successful people are strongly motivated toward achievement. "People who excel in life are those who produce results, not excuses," he says. "They take great satisfaction in accomplishing a task."

  • Successful people are focused. They concentrate on their main goals and objectives, and they don't get sidetracked. "Successful people focus on those things that are most important day in and day out," he says. "As a result, they're not just busy, they're productive."

  • Successful people learn how to get things done. They use their skills, talents, energies and knowledge to the fullest extent possible. They do the things that need to be done, not just the things they like to do.

  • Successful people look for solutions to problems. "They are opportunity-minded," he says. "When they see opportunities, they take advantage of them."

  • Successful people make decisions. They think about the issues and relevant facts, give them adequate deliberation and consideration, then make a decision. "Americans tend to be action-oriented, so the idea of spending work time thinking instead of working seems unproductive," says Mayer. "But thinking before you act or decide is essential."

  • Successful people have the courage to admit they've made a mistake. "Don't waste a lot of time, energy, money and/or other resources trying to defend a mistake or bad decision," he says. "When you make a mistake, admit it, fix it and move on."

  • Successful people are self-reliant. They have the skills, talents and training needed to be successful.

  • Successful people have specific knowledge, training and/or skills and talents. "When they need information or skills they don't possess, they find someone who has them, then find a way to interact, partner and draw from the person's experience," Mayer says.

  • Successful people work with and cooperate with other people. They have a positive, outgoing personality. They surround themselves with people who offer them help, support and encouragement.

  • Successful people are enthusiastic. They're excited by what they're doing, and their excitement is contagious. People want to work with them, do business with them and be with them. "It's easy to be enthusiastic if you like what you do," says Mayer. "And let's face it, life is too short not to like what you do for a living."

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