8 Ways to Rock: The Traits you Need for Success


Favourable or desired outcome.

The attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, both are definitions of Success.

While each rings true on some level, the idealist in me prefers the first one because it relates directly to what the person or group set out to achieve in the first place. If Joe owns a local dry cleaning store, has happy customers, earns enough money to live the life he wants, and ultimately feels fulfilled, that is Joe’s success story. If Jane sets out to build a multi-billion-dollar organization and is quite content spending most of her time working and rarely taking vacations, Jane has achieved her own vision of success.

While I’m impressed by success stories of famous business moguls, entrepreneurs, celebrities, artists, and athletes (especially if they use their positions to make the world a better/kinder/safer/cleaner place), I’m equally fascinated by those right under my nose – friends and community members doing amazing things, pursing their dreams, and kicking some serious butt!

So when I eagerly read Richard St. John’s The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common, based on 10 years of research and over 500 interviews with individuals such as Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Martha Stewart, my mind went immediately to the success rock stars I know intimately, and how they’ve embraced these traits. And let me tell you…my mind was on fire! I consider myself extremely fortunate to know so many talented, smart, creative, and driven people!

In this 2-part blog series, we’ll first take a tour of the 8 traits. In Part 2 (coming soon!) I’ll share how 5 awesome leaders, right in our own backyard, have embraced these traits, with each focusing on the one that resonates the most. I know, I know…I’m keeping you in suspense. But the guy spent A LOT of time figuring this stuff out – I can’t cram it all into one blog! Okay…fine…I’ll give you a hint: KS, JK, AL, JT, and KE. That must be getting your wheels spinning!

By the way, all this started when Richard, a fellow Torontonian (Go Canada!), was on a plane on his way to a TED conference as an audience member. A young girl sitting next to him asked him what leads to success…and while he didn’t know the answer then, he set out to find it. Talk about persistence…hint, hint…that one makes the list. (He later packed the 8 traits into his own 3-minute TED Talk – check it out).

So here goes…if you want to take a moment to guess before reading on, now’s the time! Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

The 8 Traits Successful People Have In Common 


“I love writing these books. I don’t think anyone could enjoy reading them more than I enjoy writing them.”

– J.K. Rowling, Author, “Harry Potter” books

  • In a nutshell, LOVE what you do
  • Strivers and Seekers:
    • Strivers: people who know what they love and head right to it.
    • Seekers: people who don’t know what they love and need to discover it – Albert Einstein, Larry King, and Colin Powell are just a few underachievers who became “Superachievers” once they found their passion
  • Follow your heart…not your wallet. The money will come if you LOVE what you do. Essentially, the other 7 traits will come more naturally or BE your way of life BECAUSE of the Passion.

#2: WORK

 “If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.”

– Michelangelo,  sculptor, painter, architect, and poet

  • Work really, really hard
  • Successful people aren’t workaholics, they are “Workafrolics” – to them, work is challenging but it’s also fun, fulfilling, gratifying, and engaging
  • Sometimes people chalk success up to natural talent or a gift…however even someone like Mozart who was considered a child prodigy, worked “12-hour days for over a decade in order to produce his first acknowledged masterpiece.”


“I believe to do one thing well brings, not only satisfaction, it also brings a kind of confidence. We become very confident when we know we can do one thing well.”

– Norman Jewison, renowned filmmaker 

  • Focus on one thing, stop dabbling, be single-minded…but don’t focus too soon. Early on go wide and then when you figure out what makes you tick, FOCUS
  • Develop the ability to concentrate and eliminate distractions: “Warren Buffet became one of the world’s richest men by living in a state of no distraction – Nebraska.”
  • Attention Deficit Disorder is sometimes actually Interest Deficit Disorder – if you’re not interested in the subject, idea, or area of study, your mind wanders and you’re not focused

#4: PUSH

“Goal setting is not a mind game. It is a process of developing the internal will power to accomplish what you have set out to do.”

– Joan Samuelson, Olympic marathon gold medalist

  • Push yourself through tough stuff, like shyness, self-doubt (but keep the good things that come from shyness like reading, observing, and imagining)
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone
  • Find a goal, challenge, or deadline to push you
  • Get others to push you (mother, friend, mentor, competition)


 “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

– Marcel Proust, legendary writer

  • Big ideas come from everyday problems – be observant, listen, ask questions
  • Borrow ideas and build on them; to create new ideas, make connections between disconnected things
  • Mistakes lead to failures which lead to ideas
  • Write ideas down before they fly away – always keep a notebook and pen with you


“I never pick up an item without thinking about how I might improve it.”

– Thomas Edison, Inventor 

  • Get really, really good at what you do…then get better!
  • Practice, practice, practice; repeat, repeat, repeat
  • Focus on strengths, not weaknesses – outsource your weaknesses


 “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

– Albert Einstein, Physicist

  • Serve others something of value – expertise, usefulness, entertainment, understanding, information, experience, humour, health
  • Serving others will give you: happiness, satisfaction, appreciation, contribution, a rich life
  • Do what you love, serve others what they love, and put yourself in other’s shoes; forget about yourself, focus on people you serve


“I failed my way right to the top.”

– Paul Haggis, Academy Award-winning filmmaker

  • Persist through time and unbalanced periods of life – success takes 10 years (there are no overnight successes!)
  • Persist through failure, mistakes, criticism, rejection – make failure your school, not your funeral (LOVE THIS!)
  • To succeed a lot, fail a lot; think of rejections as your badges of honour
  • Take small steps, never give up, embrace bounceability (bounce back quickly), be stubborn, be impatiently patient (impatient in short term, patient in long term)

Thanks for pushing through(!) to the end…please stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!

In the meantime, wishing you success, happiness, and a bit of failure too 🙂


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