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4 Surprising Skills All Successful People Require

There are all sorts of skills that can contribute to success. But these 4 are critical. Without them, you'll never make it.
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Want to be successful? You have to start with you. So much is written about generosity and empathy being important skills for success, and they are. But these outward-facing skills only come with the complete knowledge and control of oneself.

Your mother probably told you to think of others first and often, that the world was not about you. And yet even those who are the most generous and empathetic had to focus strongly inward to create the wealth and connections that allow them to positively influence the world. Sure, the traits below are very self-focused, but you can't possibly benefit other people without getting your own house in order.

1. Self-Awareness

Do you truly understand who you are? Are you aware of how you make people feel and react by the things you say and do and even more the ways you say and do them? Many people don't have a good sense of their outer being. They go through their day reacting and doing while not even realizing what comes out of their mouths or how their actions affect the people around them. Commit time to getting to know yourself, especially from the outside. Invite others to share their observations of your behavior and attitudes. Don't just focus on your positive attributes.

Go to those you know will be honest and spend time learning about your potentially challenging attributes as well. The more you understand about how you affect people the better you can motivate them to join you in a worthy cause. Then you can decide whether to keep, adjust, or eliminate behaviors in order to reach your preferred future.

2. Self-Confidence

If you don't believe in yourself, why would anyone else? When you're a successful leader, people want to believe you know where to go and have some idea of how to get there. They are dealing with their own insecurities and don't really have additional tolerance for yours if you are in charge. That may be unfair, but reality is not generally a function of fairness. Being self-confident does not mean you have to know all the answers. But it does mean you must have the inner strength and knowledge to address any given situation or obstacle that may come your way. Experience helps, but it is a combination of resourcefulness, resolve, and humility that will make most people, even you, believe in your leadership.

Take stock of what you do well. Identify your areas of insecurity and create a plan to remedy those areas through education and support, remembering that the only one who can truly make you confident is you.

3. Self-Assessment

Life moves fast and opportunities can go as quickly as they present themselves. You don't always have time to consult with others as to whether or not your current capabilities are up to the challenges headed your way. Still you need to gauge if you are on the right path or change is immediately required. Self-encouragement is great but if you can't be realistic about your levels and limitations, you'll crash and burn far more than you'll succeed. No one should know you better than you.

Create self-diagnostics that expose your weaknesses and perform so you can shore up your weaknesses with learning, partnership, or delegation. The joy of informed success far outweighs the tragedy of ignorant failure.

4. Self-Discipline

Any success worth having doesn't come easy. It requires focus and determination. Growth occurs from careful analysis and practiced performance. Inconsistent attempts to succeed will fail more often than not. If you could just take a shot and make it happen, more people would be successful. But it's the people who get more things right who ultimately win. Self-discipline keeps you on the straight and narrow, avoiding distractions or taking the easy way out of challenges.

Even if you are not ordinarily a planner, write down bullet points or steps to your success. Use the skills above to figure out the work you need to do to get there. Then measure your progress regularly so you can tell where you are being your own greatest supporter or worst enemy. Once you know, the rest is up to you.

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Last updated: Aug 25, 2014

KEVIN DAUM | Columnist

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and the executive producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York. Sign up here and never miss out on Kevin's thoughts and humor.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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