Defining Qualities

I've been thinking lately about how our generation is forming. How are some becoming top performers in their domain? How are they getting ahead? Do they bare their teeth when the going gets tough or back down? I just said that for an excuse to put a kick ass picture of a tiger in this post (win). You could say it's smarts, looks, or a rich uncle but I think that's too easy. Plus no one actually gives a shit about how smart you are.



There are a few qualities I'm seeing in people that are making things happen:.

  • Resourcefulness
  • Action
  • Courageousness
  • Sacrifice

So let's look a little closer a them.


You have a task at hand that you've never done. What's your first move?

I'd say it's learning.

The internet is a hugely important resource for information, but it's up to you to use it and decipher fact from fiction. Top performers know how to harness Google, Wikipedia, Amazon books, etc. in a short amount of time to get enough of a knowledge base to talk to people about it. And then they GO TALK TO PEOPLE.

They find someone who has first-hand knowledge on the subject and they ask them questions. Now they begin to see the road ahead.

I designed some manufacturing tools at my last job and spent hours up front trying to figure out how I should tackle the problem (I had never designed tooling before). I was an idiot for doing that because we had tons of top-notch designers working for us! Finally I went and talked to one of them for advice, and not only did he help guide me toward the right solution, he offered to help me all along the way. Talking to people about the problem ahead became one of my first steps after that.

With that said, resourcefulness alone doesn't make things happen.


They plan, but only enough to know what their next step is.

Then they take action.

They write the first paragraph, make the first phone call, shake the first hand. Are they doing everything perfectly? Hell no.

They feel uncomfortable during the whole process. Mistakes are made, opportunities are missed, but they send apologies and keep moving. You don't need to be super human to do that.

Note: This used to be a HUGE time-suck for me in the past. I loved to over-plan, make pretty little spreadsheets and documents, and then NEVER USE THEM because I never took action. I'd never tell people about my ideas and how it can help. Enough of that.


It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone, and there is a vulnerability associated with it that keeps us boxed. in. I've stayed inside of it too often and just end up regretting it. All too often this is driven by the fear of failing or countless other fears.

People that you see doing great things aren't immune to it, they just broke through that barrier time after time again. Now they know it's so insignificant when they compare it to the successes it has allowed.

I admire a friend of mine for this. He always puts himself "out there". He'd make friends with strangers on the street or attempt something he'd never done before with no hesitation. That takes courage.


In the end, all of this comes with certain sacrifices.

You can't please everyone. You can't go out drinking and study for a test at the same time. You can't fit a 25th hour in the day (trust me I've tried).

Some people are willing to let their lives go out of balance for a little bit in order to accomplish what they set out to do.

I think saying "no" to a lot of things is the most basic form of sacrifice. In college this usually means saying "no" to going out in order to do homework or work on some crazy idea.

Saying no sucks.

What does this all mean?

It depends on your goals, but I think adding bits of these qualities into whatever you're doing can set you apart from the pack. Having others things figured out, like happiness, is intertwined with all of these things. That takes time and thought to establish.

As I mentioned before, for major undertakings this comes with some sort of willingness to let your life go out of balance for a little while you "figure things out". This doesn't mean things will get easier, it just means you'll be able to manage it all more efficiently.

The next time you're faced with some insurmountable task, or you want to do something you've never tried before, think of these qualities and how you can use them.

Are you going to take that first step?Let me know, how do you think your peers are getting ahead?

Jake BowlesComment