Sir Winston Churchill once said that, “success is moving from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” The axiom is true enough that failure breeds success; failures can be a tremendous source of learning and personal growth. 

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States of America, and arguably one of the most influential, failed multiple times in business, suffered a nervous breakdown, and was defeated ten times in his political career before being elected president. Albert Einstein did so poorly in school that he eventually dropped out and sold life insurance for a time, before becoming a patent clerk and discovering his gift for mathematics. Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, was cut from his high school basketball team.

There are infinite examples of famous, and not-so-famous, people who have overcome the adversity of failure to reach the heights of success. What sets them apart from those who never recover from their first bout with failure?

Here are some of the traits that highly successful individuals strive to cultivate:

Drive: the determination to work harder, take charge, move forward with purpose and align with excellence. 

Discipline: focus on tactics and strategies required to reach objectives, eliminating hindrances or distractions to goal achievement. 

Confidence: innate knowledge that success is achievable; the ability to make hard decisions, and the strength to see them through to completion.

Passion: enthusiasm that transcends money or fame. Successful people live to see what the view is like at the top of the mountain. 

Self-motivation: not waiting for others to give them permission, they set parameters and make sure that projects follow that path.

Optimism: belief that the future can be better and is worth fighting for, and taking responsibility for making it so.

Competitive spirit: knowing that they can do a job better than another, and pushing forward to prove that point.

Creativity: the ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated events or situations to create synergies and opportunities.

Communication:  working hard to communicate effectively, as well as encouraging the communicators around them, hearing what is and isn’t being said, and building consensus.

Integrity: knowing that honesty is the best policy in all things, creates a character and defines who they are.

As one of my mentors taught me, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  No one plans on being mediocre; mediocrity happens when you don’t have a plan.  If you want to succeed, then learn the traits that will make you successful and put them into practice every day, and correct when you get off course.

Enjoy the journey!

Contributed by  Glenn E. Robinson

Managing Director at IC2 Institute, The University of Texas at Austin, and XLr8 Andhra Pradesh Technology Business Accelerator, Senior Training Consultant to the DHI Business Acceleration Program (BizAP).