During the holidays, I reviewed the hundreds of conversations I'd had over the years with highly successful people. While there were a few exceptions, almost all of them exhibited the following ways of thinking:

1. Positivity.  Positive thinkers believe they can make a positive impact in the world. They look at the world as it really is, visualize how they'd like it to be and then take action to make it that way.

By contrast, negative thinkers are afraid the world will have a negative impact upon them.  They see problems hiding everywhere, visualize what could go wrong, and avoid action in order to avoid disaster.

2. Empathy.  Empathic thinkers try to understand what motivates and inspires other people and then try to help them achieve those goals.  They're natural team builders and natural salespeople.

By contrast, egocentric thinkers are absorbed in their own thoughts and emotions.  Because they think the world revolves around them, they quickly alienate co-workers and customers.

3. Objectivity. Objective thinkers build strategies and tactics based upon "facts on the ground," even if those facts are painful to contemplate or difficult to cope with.

By contrast, subjective thinkers suffer from confirmation bias.  They accept facts that support their previously-held opinions and ignore facts that don't.  As a result, they're blindsided by trends that were hidden in plain sight.

4. Patience.  Patient thinkers differentiate between the right time to take action and the right time to leave well enough alone.  They realize that other people and outside events have their own rhythms and timetables.

By contrast, impatient thinkers throw themselves into hurly-burly activity in a vain attempt to force the issue.  They're like gardeners who yank on seedlings in the hope it will make the plants grow more quickly.

5. Generosity. Generous thinkers want to share what they've learned and earned.  They know that the more they share, the more they'll eventually receive in return.  They therefore draw people towards them.

By contrast, the skinflints of the world cling to whatever they've got and keep it hidden from others.  They think that life is a zero sum game where winning means having more stuff than the other guy.

6. Gratitude. Grateful people appreciate what's already in their lives.  They know that success is always a group effort, and they always remember to thank (and compensate) those who've helped.

By contrast, ungrateful people don't enjoy anything in their lives because whatever they've got, it's never enough.  They make themselves miserable regardless of where they are in their lives.