During my 25-plus years as a journalist, corporate communications executive and entrepreneur I've had the opportunity to directly work and interact with some of the most successful people in the world.
Whether it was a billionaire business leader, a hall-of-fame athlete or former U.S. president---there are five attributes that all of them share.
1. They have capable advisors.
One of the greatest lessons in life is that teams make better decisions than individuals. Every successful person I have ever worked with has a team of capable advisors who provide expertise, counsel, wisdom, insight and ideas to help make the best decisions possible.
Perhaps most importantly, these advisors are willing to tell the "alpha" when and why the leader is misguided or mistaken. That resistance to group-think plays a critical role in the continuing advance of the individual pacesetters.
2. Incredible stamina
Each of these leaders also has an other-wordly level of stamina -- physically, mentally and emotionally. I've been ceaselessly amazed at their ability to keep moving forward and accomplish what other people are unwilling or unable to do by sheer velocity of action.
While they intentionally take time to rest and recharge, it seems like they prefer to briefly take their foot off the gas when they're metaphorically coasting downhill so as not to lose any momentum. Kind of like how large Army personnel carriers refuel in flight.
I can't explain how they continue to sustain that level of stamina for years on end, other than to assume it's some high octane blend of nature and nurture.
Regardless, they have one gear and it's "GO."
3. Intellectually curious.
While there are always exceptions to the rule, the most successful individuals are inquisitive life-long learners. They demonstrate an intrinsic drive to understand things, circumstances and people.
Interestingly, sometimes their curiosity doesn't even directly benefit their immediate project, initiative or business. It's almost like they have a huge, internal neon sign that only they can see that alternately flashes between "What If" and "Why Not?"
All of us have seen or known successful people who were flat out jerks. In most instances, those individuals are not successful because of their jerky behavior (unless that's their intentional shtick) but rather in spite of it.
The reality is that partners, associates, vendors, investors and customers prefer to engage with individuals who are gracious and easy to get along with, not some jerk weed.
Simply stated manners matter, even when you reach the top of your field.
5. Positive outlook
Lastly, the most successful people I know have a bubbling optimism that the future will be better and brighter than today. I believe their forward focused exuberance is driven in large part by their internal locus of control that makes them believe that they have the power, ability, talent and resources to positively impact and shape that future.
Even if they can't change the world, they are absolutely convinced that they can change their respective part of it.
While there's a seemingly unending list of attributes that successful people have, these five traits were universally shared by the dozen uber-successes I've personally engaged with.
If these attributes are not direct causes of success, they are most certainly correlated with the best of success.