Top 10 characteristics of successful people

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COMMENTARY. Wealth disparity and distribution is a pretty hot topic these days, to say the least. And not just in America, as evidenced by the worldwide "occupy" and austerity protests.

While I support anyone's right to protest, that's never been my style. When I get knocked down, and that's happened more times than I can count, I get up, shake it off, and get back in the fight. I'm not alone. Most executives I've known are fighters.

A former CEO had his two top VPs -- including me -- resign on the same day. It was one hell of a blow but he bounced back and, four years later, successfully took the company public. And yes, he learned from the experience.

Business owners, executives, and managers face adversity every day. Markets change, new competitors arise, key employees quit, products don't perform the way they're supposed to, not to mention software bugs, manufacturing problems, all sorts of "Oh s**t!" moments.

When things don't go their way, they don't sit around and wait for someone to come along and hand them an answer. They take charge, figure it out, and adapt. They do that because they've been doing it their entire lives. It's nothing new.

That's the thing about wealthy people. While it's tempting to think of them as aliens who dropped out of the sky in golden spaceships, that's not how it happens. I've known an awful lot of successful people over the decades. Very few of them started out with anything and most struggled with adversity from the time they were young.

Successful people are rarely born that way and their wealth isn't from some act of God or preordained event. Rather, they learn certain behavior and methods that enable them to become wealthy and stay that way.

Top 10 characteristics of successful people

They live for achievement. Their goal in life is to be something, make something of themselves, make things people need or want. They're passionate about it and focus on achieving their goals with laser-like precision. Sure, they have fun, but they don't spend half their lives sitting on their butts playing video games.

They're lucky. It's said that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. To me, that means you find a way to get your foot in the door, come hell or high water, and when you do, you deliver the goods, i.e. you don't screw it up. That's how successful people make their own luck. If you seek opportunity, you'll find it, and if you're prepared, you'll succeed.

They watch their spending. They don't spend more than they have or make. To them, making money is not a windfall. They don't think, "How can I spend this big chunk of change burning a hole in my pocket?" and they don't live beyond their means. When you work hard for something, you tend not to blow it.

They learn the rules. We're all taught at a very young age to follow the rules. Some people can make their own rules. Good for them. The rest of us have to learn how the game is played. There's a "tao" or "how things work" for all things. Once you learn the tao of the business world or your specific industry or field, getting things done becomes much easier.

They break the rules. As I said, some people become successful by breaking the rulesand making their own. They see things differently; color the world with their own crayon, so to speak. Great entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Larry Ellison fit that description. It's a rarity, but it's definitely one way to do it.

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