Many qualities contribute to success, but some traits are indispensable if you want lasting success and joy. Top entrepreneurs and members of The Oracles reveal their number-one trait for remarkable results.
1. Fail well
To be successful, you must know how to fail well. After I signed the contract to be a Shark investor on “Shark Tank,” the producer changed his mind and decided to give the one female seat to someone else.
Rather than accepting defeat, I immediately sat down at my computer and banged out a quick list of things in my career where I’d found success after someone said I wouldn’t. I told the producer that the best things in my career happened on the heels of each failure, so I considered his rejection to be a lucky charm. The next week, I booked a flight to L.A. for a second chance and got the job.—Barbara Corcoran, founder of The Corcoran Group and Shark on “Shark Tank”
2. A winning mindset
To reduce success to its most basic form, understand the foundational element is the verb, to win. So if you want hyper success, you have to win.
There’s a lot of hype around “hustling,” “grinding,” and going into “beast mode.” While hard work and the grind are necessary to success, those elements don’t necessitate success. If all it took was hard work, every farmer, construction worker, and fisher would be uber successful.
Is hard work important? Yes—but hard work is a baseline. Hard work is like showing up for practice. However, it’s not the hardest workers that get drafted into professional sports: it’s the winners. To win, you have to endure years of losing while honing the craft. To win, you need a resilient heart while others win, usually before you.
I began my career at Merrill Lynch, working my way up the ladder, becoming a manager, a regional manager, and finally, running the whole company from the Long Island office.
When Merrill Lynch decided to sell its real estate offices, I wrote a letter offering to buy them. There was one problem: I had no money. Prudential bought that business instead, and I worked for them for several years—until they decided to sell. I once again attempted to buy the offices, and this time, I refused to give up.
After six months, I finally convinced Prudential to lend me $8 million, plus working capital. When I knew we had a deal, I stood in front of the 1,600 agents in the Long Island division and asked them to stay—and they did. While I had been a businesswoman for several years, that was the day I truly became an entrepreneur. In business and life, never give up.—Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman, a real estate brokerage empire with more than $27 billion in annual sales
Success isn’t an accident; it’s the natural result of hard work, learning, sacrifice, and above all: perseverance.
When I started Capsuline in 2002, I was hand-packaging, labeling, and fulfilling all orders myself. As Capsuline grew, I learned how to incorporate technology to streamline order fulfillment.
Perseverance mixed with automation led to reduced lead times for my customers, improved client relations, and most importantly, maximized profits.
Had I given up when times were tough, I wouldn’t have witnessed the evolution of the capsule industry and e-commerce. For me, the formula is simple. If you persevere—even when times are tough—you can achieve greatness.—Jonathan Gilinski, serial entrepreneur, executive director of CapsCanada, and founder of Capsuline; follow Jonathan on LinkedIn and Twitter
5. Unbridled passion
To be successful, you need one thing: passion. That led me to create, market, and manufacture a pioneering wakeboard that landed me on the cover of Success Magazine. But when passion is mixed with purpose, you become unstoppable. To stay focused and on the right track, constantly ask yourself: “What’s my why?”
These days, my “why” is to liberate entrepreneurs while providing investors with better data. My goal is to build the best FinTech software on the market and help entrepreneurs launch their startups. To be successful, find your passion and purpose, and don’t let anything get in the way.—Thomas Carter, founder and CEO of DealBox Inc; connect with Thomas on LinkedIn
Failure can help you evolve. Lessons learned can motivate needed self-improvement. To develop a healthy appetite for failure, get uncomfortable with your inner self. Push yourself to overcome obstacles that you might otherwise avoid. Stay driven and intent on mastery. Once you’re comfortable being uncomfortable, you have a unique edge that most don’t.
When you practice tackling obstacles head on, you’ll also learn your inner voice is often the biggest obstacle of all and not the actual actions necessary to achieve success. Pretty soon, you’ll look forward to failure—knowing that there’s a better you on the other side.—Jason Hall, founder and CEO of FiveChannels; generated $17M+ in sales revenue for his clients in 2017
7. Tolerate ambiguity
Successful entrepreneurs all have one thing in common: a high tolerance for ambiguity. While most people take paths that lead to predictable outcomes, entrepreneurs trailblaze their own paths toward destinations that only exist in their hearts and minds. You must hold fast to your vision, regardless of how improbable, unproven, or uncertain the journey may be.
As an entrepreneur, to create something that never previously existed, you risk what the rest of the world is unwilling to sacrifice: money, pride, and ego. Along the way, you’re constantly told “No,” “You can’t,” and, “That’s impossible.”
Rather than letting uncertainty hurt your confidence, use uncertainty like fire to forge your resolve and accomplish what others said was impossible.—Shaun Rawls, lifelong entrepreneur, founder, and CEO of Rawls Consulting
To be successful, you need to respond to the changing environment around you. Many business owners get stuck because they insist on maintaining status quo, even when people grow, regulations change, and markets fluctuate around them.
Adaptability is key to successful relationships and living a balanced life. As the demands on your energy, time, knowledge, and physical and mental health grow with your professional journey, you need to be able to re-allocate and adjust your energy accordingly.