Young woman gymnast On black backgroundA year ago I had the opportunity to meet motivational speaker Don Yaeger after he presented for the company I was interning with. He talked about having what it takes to be great, taking various qualities from the numerous people he’s met and worked with in his career—people such as Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Warrick Dunn and Coaching legend John Wooden.

Yaeger left the audience with a bookmark-like handout containing 16 consistent characteristics for greatness. The characteristics varied from understanding the value of association and seeing victory before the game begins to not playing for the money and embracing the idea of being a role model.

As a senior in college soon to enter the workforce, I was inspired by his message. A quirky hobby of mine is reading biographies; I love to see the story behind the success, so Yaegar’s examples hit home for me. After reading his provided characteristics and the qualities from numerous biographies, I was inspired to write down a few characteristics of my own.

No matter what area you enter, whether sports, technology or HR, you should always aim to be great, always push to be the best in your field. Check out four commonalities of successful people below:

1. Recognition

Those who have excelled in their field did so because they first recognized what it is they were supposed to be doing. We all have innate abilities and recognizing what they are and how to use them in our futures is vital. Iconic athlete David Beckham said that even at an early age he always knew he wanted to play soccer, even stating this each time a teacher would ask in school what he desired to be when he grew up.

2. Determination

Successful people are determined. They have the attitude that they’re going to do whatever it takes to reach their goals. It is said that Thomas Edison had around 1,000 unsuccessful attempts before inventing the light bulb, but, as we all know, he did not throw in the towel. He said, “The three things that are most essential to achievement are common sense, hard work and stick-to-it-iv-ness…” Stick-to-it-iv-ness e.g. determination.

3. Concentration

With our fast-paced society, staying focused can be difficult, yet necessary. It’s very easy to begin a task, or even a career path, and never finish it. But those who have accomplished their goals and attained the highest levels in their industry did so because they concentrated on their professions. Being great requires the ability to eliminate outside factors and devote time, attention and resources to your craft. Michelangelo’s Statue of David is a 17-foot masterpiece that took three years to sculpt. Michelangelo started out with a misshapen block of wood that two artists before him had attempted to carve, yet he focused on his vision and did not give up until he completed the task.

4. Appreciation

There are always obstacles on the path to greatness; it’s inevitable. Yet, if you look at the life of any successful person, you will learn how the setbacks and adversity he or she faced prepared the individual for the future. Valuing what you had to go through is essential to success because it helps you see the life lessons. At 30, Steve Jobs was fired from the company he started, Apple Inc. He then started NexT, which was eventually bought by Apple and became the heart of the company’s rebirth. Jobs said that although it didn’t feel good at the time, he was convinced that the benefits of NexT never would have happened had he not been fired. He appreciated what looked like a setback in his career because it eventually propelled him forward.

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