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The Most Important Success Trait

I was having lunch with a prospective coaching client the other day. We talked about his aspirations—where he was currently, and where he wanted to be.

At the end of our lengthy conversation, Bruce asked me what the key ingredient was. He wanted to know the one thing that successful people do in order to create the results they want to create. What was he not doing, he inferred, that was preventing him from pursuing this dream that he was so clearly passionate about.

Bruce was looking for a magic pill, the one thing that he could do. The thing is, there a number of traits that must be present in order to create results. Investor’s Business Daily, in its “Leaders and Success” page, lists 10 secrets to success. Brian Tracy, one of the all-time “guru’s” of personal development, has his “21 Secrets to Success.” Given the importance of each element, it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one thing.

But I did, and I almost surprised myself as I answered without hesitation. After our meeting, I reflected on this very point. I realized that this “one thing” is absolutely essential. While other traits may or may not be present, successful people always possess this one characteristic. Without it, one could not possibly achieve a desired outcome.

What is this important trait?

ACTION.

Think about it. Bruce has an incredible idea. He is visibly passionate as he describes this entrepreneurial opportunity. He has reviewed this plan over and over, sought input from others and examined the possibilities from every angle.

But he hasn’t taken action. There’s just a little bit of doubt about the viability of his idea, and it has prevented him from taking action on an idea that he has been carrying around for almost six years!

Until and unless he takes action, he will never achieve his desired outcome. And until and unless you take action, you will wonder five (or six) years from now why this idea is still stirring around in your head.

Action sets the whole process in motion. It takes what is only an idea, and makes it real. When you take action, results are produced. They may or may not be the desired results, but every event moves you closer to your desired outcome.

When an airplane is on autopilot, it’s off course much of the time. But it is constantly moving toward the destination. I love this metaphor, which so accurately reflects the dynamics of our own journeys.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “There is nothing brilliant nor outstanding in my record, except perhaps one thing: I do the things I believe ought to be done…And when I make up my mind to do a thing, I act.”

Sure, there are other “habits” of successful people. And they are all important. If they are all a part of your life, then nothing can stop you.

You can set goals, and you can think positive, and you can visualize and affirm and practice all the other success habits. But, if you don’t take action, the other habits will all be for naught.

As the Nike commercial says, Just Do It. Decide that you will take one small step. Then another. Then another. Like an infant learning to walk, do not allow the obstacle of an occasional fall to stop you. Pretty soon, you’ll be walking. Then jogging. Then sprinting toward your destination. Just do it! You’ll be glad you did.


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