“There are admirable potentialities in every human being. Believe in your strength and your youth. Learn to repeat endlessly to yourself, ‘It all depends on me.'” – Andre Gide

According to productivity expert Jeffrey J. Mayer, successful people have 14 traits in common. They:

1. have a dream

2. follow a plan

3. have specific knowledge

4. are willing to work hard

5. don’t take no for an answer

6. are strongly motivated

7. are focused

8. learn how to get things done

9. take responsibility for their actions

10. look for solutions to problems

11. make decisions

12. are self-reliant

13. cooperate with other people

14. are enthusiastic

Some of these 14 traits overlap. And some are not essential. But, overall, I find Mayer’s survey telling. Assigning one point to each of these traits, I gave myself a score of 11. I gave BB, my partner, the same score. JSN, my former partner, had a score of 12. And PR and AS, two very successful friends I work with, scored 10 and 9 respectively. Another good friend, who has never found success, scored 2.

What about you? What’s your score?

Make a note of which traits you have and which you lack. Then — if you want success (and why would you be reading ETR if you don’t?) — devise a plan for “improving” your character. Start by acknowledging your strong points and promising yourself to improve them. Experience shows that you’ll make more progress by improving your strengths than by correcting your weaknesses. Focus on the most important traits. In my view, they are the following (which I’ve embellished a bit):

ETR’s Nine Essential Traits of Success

To become successful you must …

1. have a useful goal — one that benefits not only you but also others

2. create a logical plan to achieve that goal

3. work hard — at least 50 hours a week — following that plan

4. focus on the most important tasks — and do them first

5. learn whatever you need to know to complete your tasks

6. always focus on solutions, not problems

7. take responsibility for your actions

8. while helping yourself, help others

9. when you are ready to quit, work one more day

If you can do these nine things, you will surely succeed. And your success may be greater and come faster than you expect.