© By: Ernesto Ortiz

I recently had a chance to interview several groups of extremely successful people. A handful are famous Athletes, several are nationally known artists, writers or political leaders, and all are multi-millionaires.

I asked them for the keys, or essential factors that allowed them to accomplish more than most of us.

1. Self-awareness. The first thing that struck me about these men and women was the degree to which they understood themselves. They know their values and goals, and are comfortable with the choices they have made in life. They acknowledged some regrets and mistakes, but they have made peace with the past and are eager, confident and optimistic about the future.

2. Specific Goals. Every single one of these people (all 26 of them) have written goals, ranging from 30- Day projects to 10-year programs. I was impressed that their goals are IN WRITING. Athletes had targets for scoring or performance, and the business leaders had sales goals. They all had family or personal goals that were just as detailed as their professional objectives. The advice we have all heard about writing down your goals really works!

3. Powerful Networks. They all acknowledged their network of friends and colleagues. Every one of them gave credit to a mentor or friend who taught them the ropes, opened doors, or gave them a chance when they needed it. They seemed profoundly grateful and appreciated that success is the result of partnering with many different people over many years.

4. Surprising Idealism. I was surprised at the degree to which these seasoned, mature individuals openly discussed their ideals. Some talked about religious beliefs; others framed it in political or psychological terms, but they all want to make a difference, fulfill a life-purpose, or pursue a dream. They are motivated
by a desire to create a better world, to contribute, and to help others.

5. Intense Pragmatism. Balanced with their idealism, these highly successful people were extremely practical. They are solution focused, and use technology, information, and skills to reach their most important goals. They were not interested in theories, or in defending past choices or old traditions. They want practical tools to help them reach their goals.

6. Incredible Curiosity. They observe culture, read the paper, read about their industry, and they try to learn about everything around them. They read about politics and religion, they want to know about the stock market and cooking. I was surprised that most of them were not “experts” in the usual sense, but they are extremely educated, bright and curious. They have earned their doctorates in “real life”. Very interesting!

7. Personal Discipline. They don’t waste time, and they don’t lie to themselves. They don’t exaggerate or minimize, and they don’t generalize. These people were precise when they spoke about their age, relationships, business affairs or dreams. Numbers and dates, dollars and cents were important to them, and I found them easy to talk with, and very clear in their communications.

What impressed me was that the keys to their success were not related to family or background. They had not been born wealthy, and only about half completed college. They did not seem “driven” for success.
They did not make their fortunes in high-tech or by winning a lottery. Instead, they followed a plan that created persistent, high levels of success.

Each of these skills can be learned by anyone! There are no “secrets” of success, and talent, family and luck had little to do with it. These highly successful people knew what they wanted, and used their networks, hard work, patience and discipline to achieve outstanding results. So can you!