The Qualities Of High Achievers - SACAP
Management & Leadership

The qualities of high achievers

Aug 03, 2022
Qualities of High Achievers - SACAP
Mobile Curve
Mobile Curve

No matter how diverse their goals or fields, the top one percent of successful people boast certain common behavioural characteristics. Specifically, their values, motivators, habits and emotional needs which help to keep them ahead of the pack.

How to Grow the Qualities of High Achievers

By understanding these standout traits, we can cultivate and nurture them in our own personal and professional lives. Thereby, better enabling us to soar to super-achiever heights. These are five of the qualities high achievers have and how you can grow them in your own life.

1. Exercise Grit

Grit is best defined by psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. She defines is as:

“Grit is passion and sustained perseverance applied in achieving long-term and meaningful goals.”


While grit may be partly inherited, it can be learnt or taught. Growing grit requires you to work on your courage, conscientiousness, perseverance and resilience. As well as to be passionate about things. This helps to generate a sense of purpose and self-motivation.

One of the consequences of growing a sustained level of grit means that you are less likely to be constantly worried about what you’re doing. Instead, you will be more willing and able to focus on where you are. And in doing that, not constantly second guess choices you’ve already made.

2. Need to Achieve

In 1961, Harvard psychologist David McClelland published The Achieving Society. In it he argued that some societies experience economic growth and others experience decline due to one motivational factor. This being the need for achievement.

McClelland’s achievement theory of motivation suggests that cultures that celebrate achievement, spur on entrepreneurial ventures and technological progress. Which in turn become the engine of rapid economic growth.

In the same way, the need-for-achievement psychology of high achievers demands that these people will seek out challenges for their own sake. And then when striving to meet these challenges, they will focus on the pride of success as a motivator. In contrast, low achievers are challenge-avoidant. Consequently, on the few occasions when they do engage in testing pursuits, they will focus on the shame of failure. And thus, worry emanating from thoughts of what may come from failing. This creates a mental barrier to success and thereby decreases the chance of them achieving.

Cultivating the need to achieve, means being brave. Don’t run from challenges. Rather pick challenges that are right at the edge of your abilities. Thus, while you use your existing skills, and are more likely to accomplish something, you also strengthen them.

3. Value Time

Time is precious. This is because it is an asset which can’t be recouped, thus, once spent it is gone forever. Due to this, especially amongst those that are high achievers, it is often regarded as more valuable than money. Eugene Griessman interviewed some of the world’s top performers for his book, The Achievement Factors. In it he recounts anecdotes to illustrate the high value those who achieve place on time. One of these being about Ted Turner. Within ten minutes of winning the 1977 America’s Cup yacht race, this billionaire media mogul was in a phone booth nailing down a business deal. Because it is so precious to them, high achievers are focused and very efficient with their time. However, despite tightly structured schedules, they do not drive out flexibility. Especially, if it means taking advantage of an unexpected opportunity.

Managing time more effectively, means having a schedule that is planned ahead. It also means sticking to commitments. There is a difference between being strategic and flaky. Thus, within this time-efficient framework one needs to remain flexible. And as such be willing to abandon any agenda in order to pursue a new opportunity should it come knocking.

4. Listen and Hear

Being able to listen well is an invaluable trait. Especially if you want to be successful. Authors Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield identified the ability to “listen well” as one of the most common traits amongst achievers. In researching their book, The Art of Doing: How SuperAchievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well, they found that hard-charging, action-oriented leaders are good listeners. So, get out there, listen to people around you. Draw people out, listen to their view-points and learn from them.

Brilliant ideas come from unexpected places. Listening helps you find them.

5. Action Orientated

High achievers are the ultimate go-getters. They plan and plot out every action they can. Specifically, those that are necessary in taking them closer to their goals. This means that they are able to spot opportunities. And thereafter, make decisions swiftly and move into action immediately. They also know that if an action doesn’t move them towards their goal, it can still be an opportunity to learn something new. And this, in turn, can then help them move towards achieving their actual goal.

“Action is the foundational key to all success.”


The first step towards being action oriented is to stop procrastinating. High achievers see procrastination as a sign that something needs to change. And because of this, they take action accordingly. So, if you are struggling to get focused and work towards accomplishing something, ask yourself these questions:

5 Questions to Combat Procrastination

  1. Is this goal something you really want?
  2. Have you got too much going on at once?
  3. Is this goal causing an unnecessary level of stress?
  4. Is this task too big?
  5. Is it time to create new tasks to achieve your current goal?

You need to be focused and take the right kinds of actions necessary to move forward. Even when you are afraid to start or believe you’re not quite as good as others are at something. Remember, you don’t have to be great to start doing something. Instead, you need to start something in order to be great at doing it.

Help People Achieve

A life coach is a valuable asset when it comes to achieving goals. They help you to streamline your path forward, provide encouragement and hold you accountable and assist in keeping you focused. If this is something you are interested in, and would like to help others do, then consider studying coaching. SACAP offers a number of specialised coaching courses. These can be studied part time, online or at one of the 4 SACAP campuses across South Africa. For more information enquire here or apply online.

Previous post

Next post

Your form is being submitted.

Thank you for your enquiry