Editor's note: "The First 90 Days" is a series about how to make 2016 a year of breakout growth for your business. Let us know how you're making the first 90 days count by joining the conversation on social media with the hashtag #Inc90Days.
People often associate achievement and success with a number of things, like the right timing, luck, circumstances, or natural talent. But the true origins of success are more elusive.
High achievers and great leaders share certain traits--and the good news is they aren't luck-of-the-draw traits like being in the right place at the right time. They are attributes that they have cultivated and built over years.
Here are some that fall at the top of the list.
1. A well-developed personal philosophy
Successful leaders know what their philosophy is; they understand their thinking and their reasoning. A clear philosophy allows you to set your expectations and articulate your definition of success so you can set a clear path to your goals. It prepares you for an extraordinary destiny.
2. Undeniable persistence
Edison failed 2,000 times before he discovered electricity. John Chambers overcame dyslexia to build Cisco. People who are successful never quit, and people who succeed never give up. When failure is never an option, you don't give up. You find another contact, another way, another point of entry, and you keep trying until you accomplish what you have set out to do. Persistence means picking yourself up every day and going after what you want without allowing anything to get in your way.
3. Meaningful purpose
Every successful person must be able to identify his or her purpose. You must know your "why." When you do, you can connect with the purpose that will drive you toward your unique vision. Your purpose tells you why you're here and what legacy you want to leave. When you have a clear purpose, you know where to spend your energy.
4. The power of passion
If you want to succeed, the most powerful weapon you can have is passion. It provides the ignition you require to succeed. When you can believe in something with a passionate heart, you will do whatever it takes to make into a reality. Without passion, you don't have energy; without energy, you don't have possibilities; and without possibilities, you're stagnant, with nowhere to go. But when you can ignite the fire of passion, it will give you the energy to propel yourself toward every possibility. Successful people understand that they are only great when they act from their passion.
5. Honored principles
Successful people honor their principles. They know and live by what they stand for, their values, their convictions. Their principles are deeply rooted beliefs that help them make decisions and chart their course. Your moral compass starts with basic beliefs and values, and it will guide you to do what is right, not what is easy. Honor your principles and keep them on point to stay steady and ready for anything that comes your way.
6. Excellent performance
Proficiencies are important, and performance is imperative. It's great to have a vision and purpose and passion, but you bring it to reality through performance. Bring the highest level of excellence and quality to everything you do, and keep raising your level of aspiration and expectation. Always show up tomorrow better than you were yesterday.
7. The art of persuasion
Everyone, in every occupation, can benefit from skills in persuasion. They will help you influence others and persuade them not just to listen to you and trust you but also to partner with you, help you, and support you. Mastering communication and understanding human nature are essential if you want to effectively persuade and influence people.
Factors like timing, luck, and circumstances may play some role in success, but it's the deeper traits--the ones that lie within--that count the most.