The top 5 things for success at work

What are the five most important things for your success at work? I was thinking about this at the weekend during a couple of long train journeys and concluded that for me they are:

  1. Time
  2. Network
  3. Reputation
  4. Attitude/character
  5. Skills and knowledge

Top of the list, of course is Time because you have a limited supply and they ain’t making any more of it; Network I use to encompass both working colleagues and our wider associates. Reputation is the result of your actions – hard won, it is easily lost. I admire many people whose great Attitude and Charater have enabled them to overcome other disadvantages in life.

Number 5 is a cheat because it’s really two things. If I had to choose one, I’d go for skills. You can always get more knowledge with the right learning skills.

Do you agree? What are your top 5?


10 responses to “The top 5 things for success at work

  1. Hi Don, I would question the first one “Time”, since I have always been told you can ‘make’ time to do something that is important :-). More seriously, I would switch Time with “Focus”, I believe I have lost so much time during my working life through not always being focussed. Very focussed individuals appear to do so much better in business, that being said I have enjoyed my free thinking time, you can pack so much time into a dream.

    • Ken – I like it. Time is the resource, but focus is how you make the most of it. I’m also a huge fan of day dreaming, but that’s making good use of time, too, just in a different way.

  2. Hi Don, I would have to say my top 5 would be
    1. Focus (I agree with Ken)
    2. Attitude
    3. Happiness (I believe you will only succeed in things you enjoy)
    4. People Skills
    5. Job related Skills
    Good food for thought though! Maybe my list will change as I develop my career!

    • Jess – I hadn’t put Happiness on there. Perhaps that was a mistake. Perhaps unconsciously I thought that happiness would be an output not an input. I could well be wrong. Thanks for the thoughts.

  3. Don, of course we can’t control time, but if you have the right attitude, you feel you can! Attitude goes right to the top of my list. Get it right and you can run through walls. Without it you might as well not get out of bed in the morning.

    • That’s true Ara, and I always tell people that (sadly) training will seldom make the difference to performance that good motivational management does, when it impacts attitude.

  4. Excellent list, Don.
    Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of any others, except for “luck” – then I realised that with an experimental attitude, you create your own luck.
    I too like Ken’s suggestion of replacing “time” with “focus”, and I think Jess’s suggestion of “happiness” might also be considered “engagement” – which has more of an extrinsic connotation than does attitude.
    Perhaps you don’t need to choose between “skills” and “knowledge” if you call them both “capability”…?
    But I do believe I’m up to 6 factors; now *that’s* cheating!

    • Ryan I wouldn’t call it cheating – just ‘being creative’. I totally agree that luck is important and it’s funny how often good luck is either ignored or – worse – flipped around and treated as something a person deserves!

  5. Hi Don,

    Nice post. I would say:

    Clarity (of purpose)
    (Can do) Attitude
    Networks (Internal and external)
    Time Management
    Interpersonal Communication (Esp listening)

    Its a good exercise to try and limit to the top 5. I’ve put clarity at the top of my list, because for me…having a clear understanding of what I/we are trying to achieve is paramount…refining and distilling complexity into a clear roadmap of intention. From there, attitude is how I approach rising to challenges and achieving deliverables. Next comes networks. Without these you are sunk! Time management. You can always work 24 hrs a day to accomplish your goals….but I wouldn’t advise it! 🙂 This is something I always have to work hard and be mindful of. I’ve over committed myself in the past and it is entirely counter-productive. Interpersonal communication. Its that old adage…people won’t always remember what you said, but they’ll remember how it made them feel. Sometimes, you really can’t help how you make others feel, but these are skills that can be practised and improved upon almost continually. Ok…I cheated on that last one because I put especially listening. I’m really working on this one.

    • Alex – thanks for taking the time to give such a thoughtful response, and my apologies for being so long in getting back to you! I particularly like the phrase about forgetting what people say but remembering how it made them feel … very true. Oh, and Listening. Yes, that IS rather important, isn’t it?

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