Having now worked with nearly 6,500 clients globally in almost all areas of professional careers (from physicians and surgeons to zoo keepers, with engineers, scientists, artists, movie stars, and marketers thrown in that mix!) and having worked globally across many geographies I have kept a mental list of clients who have succeeded in what they set out to do and to accomplish something worthwhile for themselves in their endeavors. These are the clients who used career and life coaching to truly reach their potential and who learned how to be, not just how to do!
This does not mean that others did not succeed in what they wanted to pursue, but my take on the measure of their success is based on the potential I saw in their abilities to achieve something bigger than they ended up achieving. Although many are still working with me, I am not sure that their desire to stretch their efforts and apply what it takes to truly achieve their potential will get them where they could be. By their own measure they are leading happy lives, so in my view each has their own goals that they are happy with!
So, this blog is about these 10 common traitsthe actual list is longer than this, I am sureI see in the clients I work with who often exceed their own goals and who go on to achieve much more than they thought possible. It is not just that they exceed their goalssometimes they do notbut it is who they become in the process of pursuing their true calling!
- Keen Self-awareness: This is one of the most important factors in a client who wants to grow. An early glimpse of a persons self-awareness for me comes through my Client Intake Questionnaire I have designed to delve deeply into a persons mindset, their psyche, and their readiness for change. This CIQ is a straightforward set of questions put together throughout my 17 years of working in this area that evolved with time. Some of the simplest questions in this Questionnaire are the most difficult for clients to answer and it is through their responses that I glean where a client is and where I can help them and how.
About 5-10% of the incoming client pool does not answer these questions either with any seriousness or they do not provide thoughtful responses. It is these clients that I wonder about in how they will succeed and achieve anything meaningful through the coaching process. In almost all cases my assessment of their success has borne out to be correct.
- Self-confidence: Self-confidence has to do with being comfortable with what a person is and having little or no concerns about what others think of them or how others see them. Self-confident clients openly share their pitfalls, foibles, and screw-ups. They also do not go out of their way to display their greatness, despite their awesome accomplishments, which they could brag about. They are modest, humble, and highly learning-enabled (see the next trait). Their opposite is someone who is learning disabled. These learning disabilities can be crippling to some in their personal and professional growth. They are also not afraid to ask questions if they do not understand something and have little or no pretense about them. And, above all, these people are nice to others and are fun to be with or to hang out with!
- Curiosity: Although curiosity can mean many things to different people, to me it is about having inquisitiveness about matters that do not concern them or any undue or inquisitive desire to know or learn. Its their curiosity to learn, understand the world around them, and grow their knowledge about things that makes them different from others who just maunder through life and deal with what they encounter in a matter-of-fact way, without uncovering any greater meaning in how they lead their life or without a sense of awe or wonder about the world that surrounds them.
- Discipline/Grit: This aspect of their character has to do with their ability to commit to a cause and finding a way to dedicate themselves to stick to that cause, no matter what happens. This can also be called grit. Disciplined clients always come through in everything that they do: They show-up on time; they are mindful of others time; they keep their word; they honor their commitments, and when they know that they are going to miss them, protect themselves from delinquency by seeking alternate avenuesincluding new due datesthat they often beat. Their discipline extends to going above and beyond in almost all things that they do; they do not scapegoat others for their misses.
- Hard work: One of the important traits of successful clients is that they do not shun hard work. All of this goes back to #4 Discipline and #6 below, Accountability. Once they sign-up to deliver something even in a casual conversation, successful individuals find a way to honor that commitment without reminders from others. They also do not excuse their delinquencies by blaming miscommunication, misunderstanding, or someone else. They deliver what they promise and their word is sacred to them in all their obligations.
- Accountability: Accountability and responsibility are often confused with each other. Responsibility means having authority or control over something; accountability means being able to be answerable or being the cause. For example, if a child breaks a neighbors glass window that child is responsible for the breakage, but his parents are accountable for the loss. Successful individuals understand their responsibilities and know how to manage those responsibilities. They also are good at holding themselves accountable for their actions without ascribing their lapses to other causes or factors.
- Priorities: Successful individuals are masters at managing their priorities. As they manage their everyday workloads they know what to say No to and what to accept on their plate without compromising their previous commitments. They are also very good at negotiating assignments, due dates, and expertly managing expectations of others so that they do not come across to others as either overworked or as someone who deserve special considerations because of their heavy commitments. They do not go around complaining about their heavy workload, either, nor do they display their displeasure at how others see their work when it is received with indifference.
- Communication: Successful individuals deeply understand the importance of clear communication and are masters at communicating their message to others unambiguously. They constantly practice how to increase the effectiveness of their oral and written communication by being vigilant about how they use their language and how others around them understand them. They also help those who communicate with them to develop precise communication habits for clean, unambiguous messages.
- Influence: In my practice many clients are intrigued by the concept of Executive Presence. To them it is some mysterious characteristic that eludes them and they wonder how to acquire this elusive trait to make them more successful. In large measure, Executive Presence is your ability to influence others with your thoughts, arguments, and leadership. Contrary to what others believe, it has less to do with your physical attributes than it does with your leadership force: How you think, how you marshal your arguments, and how you understand others agendas so that you can help them with theirs as they understand and help you with yours. In this attribute communication is also central to how you are able to influence others and how you are able to marshal winning arguments.
- Resilience: Resilience is ones ability to bounce back from setbacks. In any career, as in life, we all experience vicissitudes of successes and setbacks, although they do not always cyclically alternate. Sometimes a prolonged cycle of setbacks can beset even the most optimistic person, but the trick is to understand that no matter how often these setbacks come your way, you must learn to deal with them and bounce back. Successful people do not brood over their failures and personalize them, although they take each failure personally. The difference between the two is that when you personalize a failure you blame yourself by convincing what might have worked and what you should have done, instead! Taking it personally means understanding the lesson from the failure and learning from it to avoid future such failures.
Although this is not a complete list of what makes a person successful, these are the most frequent traits I observe in clients who go on to achieve what they set their eyes on and who go on to become someone as a worthwhile individual. I hope that you can embrace some of these traits and understand their significance in your own growth!
Dilip has distinguished himself as LinkedIn’s #1 career coach from among a global pool of over 1,000 peers ever since LinkedIn started ranking them professionally (LinkedIn selected 23 categories of professionals for this ranking and published this ranking from 2006 until 2012). Having worked with over 6,000 clients from all walks of professions and having worked with nearly the entire spectrum of age groups—from high-school graduates about to enter college to those in their 70s, not knowing what to do with their retirement—Dilip has developed a unique approach to bringing meaning to their professional and personal lives. Dilip’s professional success lies in his ability to codify what he has learned in his own varied life (he has changed careers four times and is currently in his fifth) and from those of his clients, and to apply the essence of that learning to each coaching situation.
After getting his B.Tech. (Honors) from IIT-Bombay and Master’s in electrical engineering(MSEE) from Stanford University, Dilip worked at various organizations, starting as an individual contributor and then progressing to head an engineering organization of a division of a high-tech company, with $2B in sales, in California’s Silicon Valley. His current interest in coaching resulted from his career experiences spanning nearly four decades, at four very diverse organizations–and industries, including a major conglomerate in India, and from what it takes to re-invent oneself time and again, especially after a lay-off and with constraints that are beyond your control.
During the 45-plus years since his graduation, Dilip has reinvented himself time and again to explore new career horizons. When he left the corporate world, as head of engineering of a technology company, he started his own technology consulting business, helping high-tech and biotech companies streamline their product development processes. Dilip’s third career was working as a marketing consultant helping Fortune-500 companies dramatically improve their sales, based on a novel concept. It is during this work that Dilip realized that the greatest challenge most corporations face is available leadership resources and effectiveness; too many followers looking up to rudderless leadership.
Dilip then decided to work with corporations helping them understand the leadership process and how to increase leadership effectiveness at every level. Soon afterwards, when the job-market tanked in Silicon Valley in 2001, Dilip changed his career track yet again and decided to work initially with many high-tech refugees, who wanted expert guidance in their reinvention and reemployment. Quickly, Dilip expanded his practice to help professionals from all walks of life.
Now in his fifth career, Dilip works with professionals in the Silicon Valley and around the world helping with reinvention to get their dream jobs or vocations. As a career counselor and life coach, Dilip’s focus has been career transitions for professionals at all levels and engaging them in a purposeful pursuit. Working with them, he has developed many groundbreaking approaches to career transition that are now published in five books, his weekly blogs, and hundreds of articles. He has worked with those looking for a change in their careers–re-invention–and jobs at levels ranging from CEOs to hospital orderlies. He has developed numerous seminars and workshops to complement his individual coaching for helping others with making career and life transitions.
Dilip’s central theme in his practice is to help clients discover their latent genius and then build a value proposition around it to articulate a strong verbal brand.
Throughout this journey, Dilip has come up with many groundbreaking practices such as an Inductive Résumé and the Genius Extraction Tool. Dilip owns two patents, has two publications in the Harvard Business Review and has led a CEO roundtable for Chief Executive on Customer Loyalty. Both Amazon and B&N list numerous reviews on his five books. Dilip is also listed in Who’s Who, has appeared several times on CNN Headline News/Comcast Local Edition, as well as in the San Francisco Chronicle in its career columns. Dilip is a contributing writer to several publications. Dilip is a sought-after speaker at public and private forums on jobs, careers, leadership challenges, and how to be an effective leader.
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