What Makes Successful People?

I was in San Francisco a few days ago, on business and had some time to waste. So, I wandered around the city and played one of my favorite games. In this game, I assume that I am a rich business owner who has an unlimited number of jobs to fill. I need one of everything: bus driver, plumber, dish washer, etc. As I walk from place to place and go in and out of buildings, I ask myself which people I would hire. Who catches my attention for doing a particularly good job? And, just as importantly, what did they do that caught my attention? I am trying to figure out what makes someone particularly good at a job. I am obviously interested in success and this is one way that I can better see what leads to success. Focusing on the essential nature of success helps you become more successful.

In life, a few people are absolutely terrible at their vocations and a great majority are just average. Luckily, the remaining folks (a relatively small number) are absolutely excellent. What makes them so very good? Why would you hire Mr. A rather than Mr. B? What can we learn from these people?

For example, I had to go across town in a taxicab and then back to work in a hurry and the driver was wonderful. He stayed calm in heavy traffic and was quite friendly and helpful. I would have hired him for my company. I liked his attitude. I liked his efficiency. If I drove a cab, I would like to be like him.

I went to a deli (a large chain) one afternoon and ordered a sandwich. Four employees stood in a line making sandwiches. Three of these people never looked at me even once, never smiled, never seemed to care if I lived or died. The third person in the line looked up with a kind smile and asked how she could be of help. She listened to my request and made the sandwich in the way that I had asked. She was quick and efficient. I would have hired her for my company. Her attitude made my day a bit brighter and she did her work with a certain sense of enthusiasm. If I made sandwiches for a living, I would like to be like her.

There are two ways to do things – the right way and the wrong way. I was looking for people who did their job the right way. And, they are out there if you look.

This game got me to thinking. Let’s assume that I was going to hire someone to study for the CPA Exam. What characteristics would I be looking for? I actually sat in my hotel room later that night and made a list of what I would look for if I were hiring a person to study and pass the CPA Exam:

--Plans out each study day in advance so little or no time is wasted.

--Is not constantly distracted by Facebook, email, or Twitter.

--Does not spend time complaining or making excuses. Is not always searching for reasons to stop studying.

--Studies hard during study times but gets away from it when not studying.

--Has an efficient way to accumulate information for review so that all of the information stays fresh in the mind until the test is taken.

--As the exam gets closer, mentally prepares for success by thinking about staying calm and confident at the exam site so that maximize points can be earned.

--Knows what constitutes a sufficient number of study hours and has a plan in place to reach that total number of hours prior to the exam time.

--Reads questions and other materials carefully so as not to lose time and points. Avoids careless errors.

I could see hiring that person if I wanted someone who was getting ready to go take the CPA Exam. Those are the characteristics that describe a passing candidate.

So, like so many things in life, we actually do know what it takes to be a winner on the CPA Exam. We all understand what is required to be good on this task. Success is not a mystery. There is nothing magical about this list of eight attributes. If you want to be a great CPA Exam candidate, it takes basic skills that you clearly have or can develop. In fact, in some ways, it is all just common sense. Everyone’s list would be roughly the same as mine.

If a person is willing and able to do those 8 things, I would be willing to hire them. Better still, if a person is able to do those 8 things on a consistent basis, the odds of passing the CPA Exam go way up.

Look at each of these eight characteristics very carefully and give yourself a grade. Where are you strong and where are you weak? That can be an amazing help to you as you prepare to take the CPA Exam. For the 2-3 areas where you give yourself the lowest grade, make it your goal over the next week to focus on them in particular. If you can locate weaknesses and address them with some serious effort, your chances of passing the CPA Exam will go up immediately.

Make it your goal to be the type of candidate that a person would see and immediately say “If I were hiring someone to study for the CPAExam, it would be that person because that’s a person who knows what it takes to be successful and is making it happen.”

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