Character is higher than intellect.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
In my experience, one of the greatest myths that young people believe is that success is all about smarts. While intelligence certainly helps, it is by no means a lock. In fact, many smart people will argue that character and relational skills are just as important. To that end, I’d like to share a fitting personal story with you.
A few years ago during my book launch tour through Indonesia, I gave a talk, “Developing the Great Leaders of Tomorrow,” at a high school in Bali. Afterwards, the audience exited for lunch in the courtyard while I remained up on stage to sign certificates. Some ten minutes later, I was finished and prepared to join the group. As I stood up, however, I saw a student approaching me from the center aisle. Once he reached me, I looked down with a smile and said, “Hi. What’s on your mind?” He looked up with a shy countenance and confided, “Mr. Dennis. I’m not that smart in academics. But, can I still become a great leader?” It was straight from the heart.
We chatted about academics for a bit, and I encouraged him that a certain chapter in What I Wish I Knew at 18might help him greatly. We talked about other things, too, and he listened intently. Then, when it was time to leave, I closed our conversation with this: “Ten minutes ago, you asked me a question, and now I’m going to answer it. With the courage, humility, and desire to learn that you just displayed, yes you can become a great leader.” He looked up at me, brimming with pride, and said, “Thanks Mr. Dennis!” And then with a spring in his step, he walked away.
This was one of the most touching moments I’ve ever experienced, and although I’ll probably never see him again, I’m confident he’s on his way.
This story illustrates why it’s so important to instill belief in our young people and to bust this myth every opportunity we can. You don’t need to be an Einstein to be successful in your career or in life. No way.
So, what is important, besides intellect, to succeed in one’s career? What are some of the qualities most highly prized by employers? Qualities that we parents, educators, and mentors can and should be instilling now?
Simply stated, employers are looking for three basic things… someone who: 1) does good (preferably great!) work, 2) works well with others, and 3) advances the mission and success of the organization.
But, let’s get more specific. Here are our top ten qualities of workplace superstars, excluding the intellectual and technical skills needed for specific jobs and careers:
- Commitment to Excellence
- Work ethic/motivation
- Positive Attitude
- eam minded
Over the next few months, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into each of these essential qualities for career and life success. If your children, students, and mentees learn to model these well, they will be well positioned to fulfill their dreams and positively impact the world.
We hope you’ll enjoy this series and share it with your friends.
Next week, we’ll tackle integrity, which, arguably, is most important quality on the list.