The Top Four Traits for Awesome

Do You Have Them? Do You Hire Them?

In my career I’ve reviewed thousands of resumes while hiring and managing hundreds of people, and to this day there are essentially 4 basic traits that make the difference between a solid resource and a next level, ass-kicking achiever that delivers consistent awesome. Of course, this assumes experience is a relatively level field. Even so, these characteristics can assure they’re capable of adapting, and probably rather quickly. So, do you have these traits? Do you hire for them? (The list is not in a specific order – all carry good weight.)

  1. A sense of urgency – Ok, to be perfectly honest, this really is the top trait. Some people have this and some people don’t. This is very tough to train and should be screened for thoroughly. When I interview potential resources for clients or for Buckland Co., I don’t have to ask specific questions relating to this, essentially you can tell when someone has a fire in their belly and is ready to rock. If needed, talking to them about what other interests they have can uncover some strongly seeded organic ambition.

  2. Positive attitude – Business is not always a rainbow colored ride on a unicorn. It can be tough some days. Most people face a day of meetings, a full inbox, blinking voicemail lights and the infamous drop by from managers or colleagues. You can view every day through the lens that the glass is full or the glass is empty. How you perceive everything that happens at work and at home is an undeniable talent. If everything is viewed as a struggle, you can still achieve, but the glass full or mostly full types will always outperform. Ignorance is one thing, but perception is largely a choice. Look for those that choose to be happy. Because we already know the inbox will be full, the meetings are scheduled, and they’re going to stop by.

  3. The journey is the reward – Most people graduate from high school, many go to college and even fewer sign up for advanced degrees. I don’t particularly care about the degree (or degrees) you have. I want to work with people who realize that life provides continual opportunities to grow, expand and unfold. Constantly learning something – be it a function of your job or something considered extracurricular – keeps your mind active and in a position to compete. The destination is not the reward, it’s a moment to reflect. It’s truly the journey that bears fruit everyday. This is what keeps most plowing away while others run out of gas. So what are you doing?

  4. Create mental space – Like I said, work and life in general in the 21st century can be pretty nuts. However, we have to own our thoughts and the arena they compete in. As Tim Ferris points out consistently on his podcast- 75-80% of the high performers he interviews have a daily practice of meditation or exercise that allows them to tune everything out so they can focus on a clear intention for the day. If you don’t specifically have a practice for clearing the mind, you risk the clutter of repetitive daily tasks stopping you from connecting with a stronger intention of yourself.

Four traits, and to be perfectly honest, four choices. That is to say, no one needs to be born with these characteristics in order to exemplify them. Making them even more telling about yourself, or those you want to work with.