“Success” is a word that is thrown around quite a bit. Is real success making it to the top, earning a bunch of money, becoming famous, winning awards, or something else?
In my mind, success can include all the things listed above and more, but one major ingredient to real success is making a positive difference in the lives of others. As my friend Joe Martin once said to me, “I want to do well for myself in my career and finances while doing good for others.” That sounds like a winning strategy to me.
So how can you do well for yourself while making a positive difference in the lives of others? Here are seven characteristics of people who make a difference.
7 Traits of People Who Make A Difference
Hard (and Smart) Worker. There is no such thing as easy change, easy impact, or easy success. Making a difference takes a lot of hard (and smart) work. If you’re not willing to roll up your sleeves and dig in, the likelihood of you making a positive impact on anyone is slim.
Consistency and Perseverance. Making a difference doesn’t mean you work hard for the short-term; it takes hard work for the long haul. How many life-changing stories are never written because people give up? Success often comes to those who are simply willing to outlast everyone else. That’s why veteran teachers, coaches, and leaders can tell story after story of how they’ve seen peoples’ lives changed for the better. They’ve been around for a while, and their stick-to-it-tiveness is often the catalyst that brings about a positive change.
People-Person. This is not to say introverted people cannot make a difference in the lives of others—THEY CAN! In fact, some of the most dynamic difference-makers I’ve met are much shier than I am. But while our styles differ, we are passionate about the same thing—seeing positive change in people’s lives. Simply put, how can you make a difference in someone’s life if you are not interested in that someone?
Truth-Teller. Everyone struggles with saying hard things to other people, but difference-makers are willing to say the tough stuff because the truth, spoken clearly and compassionately, leads to change… and more often than not, to growth as well. With that said, difference-makers know how to balance “directness” with “gentleness.” Additionally, they are good at reading people. They know the same boiling water will harden eggs and soften carrots, so they are careful with how they communicate hard truths to others.
Problem-Solver. Problems are a fact of life, but instead of complaining about them, difference-makers seek solutions. Problems create opportunities for learning, growth, and development.
Lifelong Learner. People who make a difference are always adding extra crayons to their crayon box. Why? To use another analogy, they realize that if they think they’re ripe, they rot…but as long as they stay humble and green, they grow.
Deliver the Goods. Business success is seen when a company over delivers on value. In the same way, difference-makers consistently seek to over deliver in their relationships by practicing active listening, being encouragers, and looking for ways to serve.