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Thursday 11th Jul 2019

7 key traits of high achievers

What do I mean by the term high achievers? It’s simply the people who make stuff happen! And I don’t just mean the small things. Yes, they do those things as well, but I mean big things. They move mountains and make it look easy. They’ll take on a project as it’s heading south and turn it around. They’ll take a vision and turn it into reality. They’ll make a plan and turn it into action. I have no doubt we all know someone who sits in this camp, and hey, you may even be one yourself.

What do I mean by the term high achievers? It’s simply the people who make stuff happen! And I don’t just mean the small things. Yes, they do those things as well, but I mean big things.  They move mountains and make it look easy.  They’ll take on a project as it’s heading south and turn it around. They’ll take a vision and turn it into reality. They’ll make a plan and turn it into action. I have no doubt we all know someone who sits in this camp, and hey, you may even be one yourself.

My seven key traits of high achievers

High achievers, unsurprisingly, are driven by a strong motive to achieve. They have a strong desire to accomplish something meaningful. While less accomplished individuals are often more motivated to avoid failure, often resulting in them achieving less. (Read more on how avoiding fear will stifle your growth.)

Having spent two decades working with business owners, business leaders, and entrepreneurs across a variety of businesses, organisations, and countries I’ve identified seven key traits that make up the DNA of a high achiever.

How many of these high achiever traits form part of your DNA?


High achievers are action orientated. Their approach is usually READY – FIRE – AIM rather than the more traditional method of READY – AIM – FIRE.

They translate positive intentions into tangible results. They have an attitude of action. Restless and never standing still, always thinking, taking action and on the move, testing and applying ideas. Figuring out what works and replicating it, and what doesn’t, changing their approach until it delivers a positive outcome.

I’m sure we’ve all met people in life who talk a good game – they talk the talk, but nothing ever happens. High achievers walk the talk, what they say happens!

This means they don’t always get it right, but they are in the arena, taking action.

#2 Visionary

Too many people set off on a journey into the future without first painting a clear picture of where it is they want to get to.  They end up taking a route rather like a squiggly line.

High achievers can transport themselves into the future in their mind, create clarity on what it looks like, feels like, and acts like, and then, coming back to today, translate their vision into their reality.

Being clear on their vision, they define a pathway, a set of railway tracks, knowing that if they do veer off course, with a clear destination point they can quickly take corrective action and get back on course.

One story that floors me every time is that of four times Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who won his first ever Grand Prix in his rookie season back in 2007.

That first victory was in the Canadian Grand Prix, and the newspaper headline the next day read: Canada High Lewis: I knew I’d win.

That’s quite a statement, but read the story that supported that headline, and there was a fascinating insight: Hamilton said: ‘I, always knew I was going to win; it was just a question of when and where.’

Think about that for a moment. If you have wired yourself with that level of certainty and belief, not just in terms of mindset, but also in terms of your whole being, your entire physiology right to your core, what’s going to happen? You’re going to win!

Hamilton’s story also has another fascinating twist to it. When he won that first race, he was driving for the McLaren Formula One team. Years before he was a kart racer and after one particular event he attended an evening dinner and the guest speaker was Ron Dennis, the team principal of McLaren Formula One. After lunch, Hamilton went up to Dennis and introduced himself, saying that he had really enjoyed the presentation and that he just wanted to put Dennis on notice that at some point in the future, he was going to win a Formula One Grand Prix driving for McLaren.

He was ten years of age.

Now, what made Lewis Hamilton special?

Was it because he had encouraging parents? Yes, indeed, he did.  Was it because he had driving skills etched in his DNA? Perhaps. But what made him special was the way he dedicated himself to turning his vision into his reality, even from the age of 10.

Even before he won that first race, Hamilton had already been on that podium; had already looked out over the crowd and heard the voices chanting his name. All he had been doing since the age of 10 was living out the script of the movie he had already created.

What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve. Live your life as if all your dreams have come true and challenge reality to catch up!

#3 A Laser Beam Focus

There is a wise Russian proverb that goes: ‘If you chase two rabbits, you end up catching neither.’ Are you suffering from Rabbit-ism?

Most people are better at dreaming up new ideas than making them a reality, and if you’re not focused, there is an inherent risk of being known as a great visionary, who never made anything happen.

Where focus goes energy flows.

Without focus, you’re like Alice asking advice of the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ asked Alice.

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

‘I don’t much care where,’ said Alice.

‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go, ‘said the Cat.

‘- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.

‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’

Remember, where focus goes energy flows!

#4 Discipline

Put simply; discipline is the consistency of action and consistency over time.

Doing something even when you don’t feel like it.

High achievers understand this and view discipline as commitment, dedication, and excellence rather than an inconvenient burden to be endured.

Sustained success is all about discipline. It’s the bridge between goals and accomplishments.

This is the difference that makes the difference for high achievers. They are in the driver’s seat of their life, living life with deliberate conscious intent – no autopilot – disciplined in the pursuit of their goals.

How do you cultivate discipline?

By building habits; starting small, gathering momentum, reinvesting it in progressively more significant changes to your routine. For example, you could start small with a simple but unbreakable promise to yourself to do one small thing every single day that moves you closer to your vision and your goal.

#5 Winning mentality

Winning mentality starts with a positive attitude, and the good news is this is entirely achievable through determination.

It’s about having a can do / will do mentality rather than a can’t do / won’t do one.

What makes the difference?

It’s whether you see yourself, in any given situation, as Victor or Victim. Most often, it’s not circumstance, but attitude and mindset that separate victors and victims.

Victors look to the future with a sense of purpose – victims see the future as something that’s done to them.

Victors see challenges as an opportunity to grow – victims see them as a reason to stop.

Victors are playing to win – victims are playing not to lose.

Victors regularly do the hard things – victims follow the path of least resistance.

There are two underlying themes at play here; ownership and personal resilience.

The ability to take ownership of your own life, purpose, goals, aspirations and make them happen, and the ability to get back up when you get knocked down in pursuit of those goals.

That right there is a winning mentality.

#6 Lifelong Learner

I often use the saying ‘the day you stop learning is the day you stop earning!’

In an increasingly competitive world, there is no such thing as standing still. All around you, people are actively moving forward and standing still really means you’re falling behind.

High achievers have this insatiable thirst for learning.

3 steps to improve performance

They show up every day being the best version of themselves. They spend their life being their performance coach, taking steps to improve their performance, ensuring they reach their true and maximum potential.

They keep feeding their minds, growing personally and professionally.

#7 Boomerang

High achievers are in a restless pursuit for adding value in whatever endeavor they are committed to.

They are focused on helping others and making a positive difference first – throwing the boomerang far and wide – knowing success, in whatever form this may be, will follow.

How many of these high achiever traits are part of your DNA?

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