“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

No matter what our goals in life are, our careers will stretch through a series of jobs and life experiences that will allow us to polish our skills and fully develop our potentials. We have defining moments that set our core beliefs and test our capacity for determination, hard work, and persistence. All these mold us and form a vital part of who we are.  A successful rise up the corporate ladder involves a profound understanding of ourselves, always with openness to change and the lifelong necessity to evolve and adapt.

There are many smart people who aggressively pursue their career paths and have their sights set on the grand prize. While their ability is nothing short of brilliance, many lack the required soft skills that could propel them to the top.

There are qualities, skills, or competencies successful people possess. These qualities are not taught in the four corners of the academe, nor are imparted through certificates or certifications. These qualities are mere soft skills, but can truly spell the difference between success and failure.

  1. Be Practical.  Do not let emotions cloud your decision making. A practical decision made at the right time with the right attitude works better than any decision made in the heat of the moment. Remember, people on the top are nothing but practical.
  2. Be Humble. Arrogance may sometimes get you your way, but in the long run, humility still works best. When you know your work and are good at it and are not too busy tooting your own horn, you make it easier for people to show their respect and appreciation. Just remember humility should never lead to people taking advantage of you.
  3. Be a problem solver. Majority of employees lack a can do attitude that allows them to solve issues appropriately and in a timely fashion.  They leave problems burning for a long time, almost as if to encourage someone else stepping in to take care of things for them. A positive mindset sends the right vibes and gains the attention and respect of your bosses and your peers.  And don’t automatically avoid people bearing bad news. Listen to them just long enough to hear the problem, and then determine if it is something you can help solve.
  4. Network. When you sell yourself in the market, you need people who know you and can vouch for you. The more people who know you and can vouch for you, the better — so the broader your network, the better. A strong network always gives you an upper hand.  Networking not only provides social contacts, it gives you access to information which in turn gives you even greater access to opportunities.
  5. Be Proactive. Step out of your comfort zone and accept challenges as they come. Take charge. The important thing is to get things done. And if you go the extra mile to help others, most people will return the favor when the time comes.
  6. Have an eye for detail.  When you are hands on, then you more easily understand the complexities of a job.  When you master something and know every important detail of a project, for example, you speak with both authority and confidence. You are able make difficult but rational decisions. People can sense when you know whereof you speak and they will always respect that.
  7. Be eager to learn. After a while, a job becomes monotonous and people become bored and eventually, even lazy. They lose all their zeal to learn new things and although they won’t admit this, their actions could lead one to believe they have lost their passion and are stuck in a rut. If you really want to move ahead, don’t allow this to happen. Don’t tune out. Always remain eager to learn. You never know what new knowledge or capability will further your career. Remember, you need an open mindset and positive attitude to approach work. If you are constantly learning, it will be tough to be satisfied with mediocrity.
  8. Take ownership. When no one is willing to own it, be the first to grab an opportunity. An undertaking involving various stakeholders may lose vision and momentum. An undertaking with a good leader, able to synthesize input from others while giving decisive direction, has a much better chance at success. Be the person that jumps in and takes charge of a new project..
  9. Think outside the Box. Many people feel that this term has become such a cliché. But in this fast changing world, this ability has become all important. It requires viewing problems though a different set of eyes, or in a different dimension. Its absence is why many brainstorming sessions fail — most people sit and think of work problems in its usual context. Try seeing things not just in terms of what it means to the company – try thinking of it in terms of what it means to the user.  Sit back and try to solve the problem from the eyes of a 6 year old, turn things upside down, absolutely challenging the norm.  Change your surroundings.  Change your views. Change your thought process and come up with a killer idea!

Ultimately, remember this old Chinese proverbs: “No matter how educated, talented, rich, or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all.”

Updated: 31 March 2016
First Published in Sysgen Blog 2013.
Credits to the original writer.