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How to be

by Paul Northway

Man celebrating seated behind a laptop

As we begin to approach the finish line of 2018 and start to look ahead to 2019, many people will set some personal goals for the New Year. This can often lead to a year-over-year series of expectations not met and no real personal growth. So why is it that some people are exceptional, and others just appear to be stuck in mediocrity? Some will argue that certain people are born with gifts that allow them to be more successful, while others will say it is all about attitude and work ethic. I believe there are many factors, including the following 10 characteristics of people who tend to be awesome.

  1. Intelligence – Yes, exceptional people are intelligent with knowledge, but it is emotional intelligence that sets you apart. Self-aware people are blessed with the flexibility to handle challenge and change.
  2. They Enjoy Mondays – Monday is a new beginning; an opportunity to make this week more awesome than the last. Awesome people do not give in to the temptation to begin the week by whining, moaning and complaining.
  3. Pace and Tempo – Exceptional people tend to exhibit grace and composure. Grace is the dignified elegance about a person’s appearance, movement, personal style or behavior. To be graceful is to be strong and assured in who one is, and to move gently within that energy. Composure is the beauty of self-control and allows one to maintain a certain calm in the face of life’s challenges.
  4. Learn, Learn, and Learn – People with a strong will to win see learning as an opportunity to broaden their own potential for greatness. They approach learning as a lifelong journey rather than an end-state.
  5. Curious – Exceptional people are curious and, therefore, ask better questions, have deeper conversations and develop stronger relationships.
  6. Humble – More than anything, winners display humility, which affords them the mental space to try new things.
  7. Love to Win – Exceptional people not only love to win, but also hate to lose, and they learn from every loss in order to improve their chance of winning the next time. There is a big difference between wanting to win and knowing how to win.
  8. Unassuming – Exceptional people do not see life as being all about them, and they understand the importance of the team. Winners prefer to celebrate the accomplishments of others as much as their own.
  9. Conflict – Exceptional people realize that conflict can be a good thing. They value diverse thinking and do not avoid difficult conversations.
  10. Deliberate – Exceptional people are clear and persistent about who they are, where they are headed, and what they want from their lives. Deliberate people have a plan and stay pointed in the direction of their goals and dreams. They use life challenges to bring positive refinement to themselves. The exceptional get what they want in life because they are clear in saying what they want.

Exceptional people wrap a sense of urgency around those 10 characteristics. Regardless of what people aim to achieve — whether in business, sport or otherwise — those who set themselves apart from the crowd maintain a sense of urgency in order to be the best they can be. One final thought is that no one is perfect and lives up to this list every single day, but the exceptional find a way to keep getting better over time.