By: Entrepreneur
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1. Critical thinking.

When you question assumptions, claims, and viewpoints instead of just accepting them as gospel, as in “A Harvard professor said it online, so it must be true,” that’s called critical thinking. It’s fundamental to smart decision making. And that, in turn, is key to being successful at just about anything.

2. Focus and discipline.

We passed the point of information and communication overload long ago. Even highly focused overachievers who should know better sit down to work only to find that, a few tweets, texts, and emails later, half the day is gone and all the work remains.

Focus and discipline have always been critical to success in just about any field, but these days, managing distraction has become harder for even the most disciplined among us. And that’s not likely to change any time soon.

3. Being human.

In a very real sense, we are becoming virtual images of our real-world selves. That would be fine if those personas replicated the real us. Instead, they’re carefully constructed avatars that reflect social norms, popular themes, and wishful thinking. The information we share is filtered. More and more we behave like sound bites personifiedvirtual actors portraying cardboard characters in a two-dimensional digital world.

But successful businesses are built on real communication and real relationships. Running a business is about motivating investors to provide capital, customers to buy products, and employees to work their tails off for you. Every business transaction ultimately has a human being at both ends.

4. Getting things done.

The idea that successful business leaders are typically driven by high ideals and lofty aspirations is a myth. None of the highly accomplished executives I’ve known got where they are by walking around with their heads in the clouds. They got there by putting one foot in front of the other and getting the job done.

Successful entrepreneurs have the ability to focus and motivate people to work together toward a common goal. They have a strong sense of personal responsibility, accountability, and work ethic. They’re born troubleshooters and problem solvers.

5. Competitive spirit.

Ecommerce and the rise of the global economy have opened the business world’s competitive floodgates. New competitors are arising on every front as technology lowers the barriers to entry and more and more companies cross over into each other’s lanes. Meanwhile, we’re de-emphasizing competitive spirit and individual achievement in our schools. As we level the playing field, the motivation to compete and win is being bred out of society. We’re beginning to see competition as a bad thing.

That’s creating an interesting dichotomy, a competition gap, if you will. Clearly, the situation presents both challenge and opportunity. On the one hand, the competition is brutal. It’s rough out there. On the other hand, if you’re highly driven to compete and win, you’ve got a leg up on most of the young people entering the workforce. And that gap is only going to widen over time.

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By: Steve Tobak


Twitter: @Entrepreneur