According to former US automobile racer Bobby Unser, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” How do business leaders prepare to take advantage of opportunities? There are 5 habits all successful people and businesses have in common.

To better understand the secret of success I have spoken with many CEOs and business experts. In their inspiring stories, some life-long habits were part of their key to success in every instance. I want to share with you 5 recurring themes in the stories they told me.

1. Successful People are Not Afraid to Fail

Fear is paralyzing. It is impossible to innovate without a strong degree of fearlessness. Some of the most successful people in the world have been without a job or even broke. It is just impossible never to fail, so don’t be afraid to try something new!

The literary world offers several inspiring examples. Bestsellers such as J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book, Stephen King’s Carrie, and Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen all were first declined by publishers. Not being afraid to hear “No” is the secret to many instances of success.

2. Successful People Dare to Go Off the Beaten Path

Don’t try to find customers in an oversaturated market. Your competition will have taken away the juiciest bits already. Instead, search for new opportunities in unexplored territory.

We all know the famous examples of “disruptive” companies that decided to do something no one had even imagined. That is why innovation is crucial to your future success.

3. Successful People Choose an Excellent Team

Success is never the work of just one person, however talented he or she may be. Business leaders tell me their biggest successes were achieved when they had the opportunity to select an excellent team.

It is a little bit like Hollywood. Some of the greatest directors – Hitchcock, Spielberg, and Lynch – made their best movies with the same top-of-the-line actors or crew.

4. Successful People Network Extensively

A new opportunity comes in many shapes and forms, but more often than not, it will be in the form of a new personal connection. Both social networking in real life and on virtual networks such as LinkedIn can be the portal to great opportunities.

New contacts can become your customers or partners, or they can refer you to other people that will make your business grow. The secret of networking is that you don’t know which person will help you one day, so in the beginning, the fishnet has to be cast widely. That’s why networking is time-intensive, and you should love this activity at least a little bit to do it properly.

5. Successful People Know How to Listen

Though most successful people find it easy to talk, there is something more important — knowing how to listen. The CEOs I talked to have underlined the need to ask questions and be curious.

There are a number of reasons why these character traits are important. Sometimes a great idea will be shared with you. Besides, people like you better if you listen, and they will be more likely to award you business.

How to Weaponize these 5 Habits for Your Success

So now you know the secret of success. It is simple, isn’t it? Of course, I know implementing broad principles like those cited above is easier said than done. In the next article, I will translate these 5 principles into 5 concrete tasks to make your life and business more successful!

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