When the Times Get Tough: 5 Things Successful People Do Differently

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On August 16, 2011

It’s probably safe to say that nobody really relishes the tough times. And yet it’s often during these tough times that some of the most successful companies make their mark—because their leaders act differently. Here are five characteristics that successful people exhibit during tough times (and when times are good).

1. They don’t deceive themselves: In the short run it seems easier to avoid dealing with ugly facts about our business or our own character or abilities. Many of us deceive ourselves rather than face the facts—and correct what needs to be corrected. Successful people hold themselves accountable by taking an honest look at how things really are and how they’re really doing (rather than how they wish things were). Then they fix what needs to be fixed—or get help for the things they can’t fix themselves.

2. They are content but not complacent. Successful people accept themselves for who they are, but they don’t stop learning, growing, and improving. They don’t try to be something they’re not, but they aggressively look for ways to be better at what they do. They read. They listen. They seek out people who inspire them, and they take specific steps to become better at what they do.

3. They take responsibility: Successful people aren’t interested in assigning blame. Instead, they look to fix the problem. And they don’t wait for someone else to ride to their rescue. They assume the responsibility. They don’t wait for conditions to improve—they work to improve the conditions.

4. They don’t believe in the status quo: People who are successful are always challenging the status quo. And that includes challenging their own thinking. If nobody else challenges their assumptions—they do it themselves. It’s easy for leaders to think they’re right. But nobody has all the insights into everything. Successful people are always asking, “What am I missing?“ And they seek out individuals who will help them answer that question.

5. They are aware of the impact of emotions: Great leaders know that their emotions affect those around them. That’s why they are aware of how they feel and how their feelings influence employees. They don’t just “put on a happy face,” but they work to create a positive, energetic, and affirming work environment. They know that corporate culture starts at the top—with them.

What do you do when times get tough? Do you hunker down and wait out the storm? Or do you take steps to improve the situation? I’d love to hear what works for you!