While excelling in academia can build experience in meeting deadlines, flexing those diligent brain muscles, learning to collaborate in group efforts, and seeking help from mentors and teachers, when needed, grades and report cards don’t determine your ability to be successful in the working world.
Receiving honors and high marks indicate intelligence, commitment, time management skills, and the ability to study, learn, and retain information: all valuable attributes. Yet, there’s a stark difference between “academia smarts” and “business smarts,” and the latter is required in order to get ahead in the corporate world or to fashion and maintain your own business as an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur myself, I can easily relate.
It’s a struggle for millennials today to acquire and retain jobs, as competition is high, the market is rough, and many companies require additional schooling and degrees for jobs that are above entry-level. Even at entry-level, such difficulties exist. Thus, many millennials are going out on their own—striving to find their way, the path that makes sense for them, doing something that ignites their passions and can provide adequate profit and power. Some choose to willingly, others are unfortunately forced.
Falling into this category, as being someone who has willingly chosen this path, I have observed key players within the entrepreneurial avenues in order to mimic their patterns, develop my own company as a freelance writer and content marketer, and be successful, for years to come. When you have your own business, there’s no limit to success.
I have yet to “make it,” as I am constantly trying to expand my business and reach new heights; however, I feel that successful people don’t really consider “making it” to exist. There’s no end to the working madness—it’s a never-ending pursuit of new ventures, gains, relationships, and ambitions. Here are four attributes of successful people that are learned outside academia.
They Embrace Failure
I’ve failed countless times—whether it be with securing a new client, underestimating my prices and worth, or not following up with business relationships. However, when you take such failure as a learning step, understanding how to be better and more successful in the next turn, you gain access to something even more valuable and lucrative.
Failure requires a new direction—it activates the problem-solving mentality and demands an immediate solution. It allows you to be creative, to step outside the box, and re-think your career path, your business model, and your networking style. It propels you forward, where you know that a rut is not up for debate. Failure, in a sense, is a gift.
They Build Solid Relationships
While some people are natural butterflies and others are shy and reserved, being able to establish solid business relationships and appear presentable, well mannered, and professional within a corporate or social setting will cause people to flock to you. They will be eager to hear what you have to say and to work with you.
They key, at least for me, is to feel comfortable in my skin. I’m not afraid to say a positive affirmation to myself, such as, “You got this,” or “It’s time to be awesome” before entering a networking opportunity or business meeting. Walking with a proud, confident gait, reaching your absolute height, and keeping eye contact to show that you are interested in the matter of communication, will create a natural presence that exudes power and attractiveness. Successful people have this commanding presence that captivates a crowd.
They Stay Healthy
If you don’t take care of your health, how can you take care of your business affairs? All the successful people I have met are dedicated to maintaining their health regimen, through activity, social relationships, a balanced diet, and sleep. Setting an alarm to get in a morning run awakens the mind and body to boost productivity and creativity in the day. In fact, I have yet to meet a successful person who does not consider physical activity to be a priority in the day. Dedication and willpower are two qualities that are demonstrated in a 6am workout.
I feel most successful right now: I am developing my business, networking with interesting and valuable people, and focusing on implementing healthy habits that are sustainable and enjoyable. I work out daily, and I open my mind to new adventures. Such curiosity, diligence, and openness to experiences that are outside the comfort zone is a true attribute of a successful person.
They Don’t Stop Learning
Knowledge doesn’t end after college—but rather, it expands over time. Successful people realize that learning never stops and that there’s ample opportunity to connect with others who can provide enlightenment and novelty. Personally, I am always learning, as my occupation demands it. I’ve written about real estate, law, investment banking, business, health, dining, hotels, pumps, and more, and each industry has peaked my interest, required interest in and advice from others, and a commitment to enlarge my brain and repertoire. I am thankful for these opportunities.
Successful people aren’t afraid to seek mentorship; they know when others are more experienced in given areas. They also embrace being mentors, in order to share their passions and build business connections that will be beneficial in the future. Successful people are students, teachers, experimentalists, occasional risk-takers, and problem-solvers. Wearing many hats comes naturally, and it’s a requirement not addressed in academia; instead, it is learned with time and direct exposure to people, practice, and principle.