Successful Professional

7 Vital Habits Of The Successful Professional


The title of this Inc. article caught my eye: “7 Habits of the Ultra Wealthy.” Who isn’t a little curious about what a successful professional does differently than the average person?

Related: 5 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast

As I read the tips, I realized it’s not about what they do with their money – it’s how they approach their careers.

Passenger Or Pilot: Which One Are You?

It’s easy to think we are all doing what we can to take control of our careers. However, this article points out a misassumption some people make: Thinking they lack control over certain aspects of their career. Or worse, not even bothering to try to take control.

In our careers, we are either a:

A) Passenger – an employee held hostage by Golden Handcuffs.

B) Pilot – a business-of-one who is in charge of our destiny.

I can see why being a passenger in your career might be attractive. You get to leave the scary, intense work of navigating to the pilot. But, is that what you really want? Currently, I’m seeing a shift in our workforce’s mentality.

More and more people are seeking Professional Emancipation as part of the natural evolution of the employee. (See infographic here.) They are tired of being a passenger and want to learn how to become the pilot of their career. That being said, here are the seven tips from that Inc. article re-tooled for those seeking to become an ultra-successful professional.

1. Realize You’re A Business-Of-One

Your career has equity. Recognize it and start to determine how to use it to your advantage. Inventory your assets as a professional and determine who is willing to pay top-dollar for them. If you don’t have valuable skills sets that are in-demand, start acquiring some.

2. Always Look To Gain An Advantage In Your Business Dealings

You must negotiate with employers. Don’t take what is given to you without a discussion. An employer is a business who is always looking for the best deal. You need to do the same. Learn to effectively negotiate pay, perks, and other benefits so you feel good about the partnership. You don’t work “for” an employer – you work “with” an employer.

3. Do Things Well

Remember that doing things well is more important than doing new things. Get focused on building your expertise and understanding how you are the aspirin to an employer’s pain. You must be great at a few things, rather than okay at a bunch of things.

4. Work With People Who Are Smarter Than You

Look for the smartest people you can work with. Find companies you admire and respect. Not for their pay and perk package, but for the kind of products or services they deliver. You must seek your professional tribe and partner with them to bring up your career game.

5. Get Clear On Your Employer’s Goals, Needs, And Business Intentions

Want to do better in your career? Try not to being so self-centered. It’s not about your needs and wants. Instead, focus on the needs, wants, and business objectives of the people you are partnering with. You’ll be able to offer more value and get more in return if you do. They are your customer. Exceed their expectations and you’ll have them eating out of your hand.

6. Be In A Position To Walk Away When The Situation Isn’t Right

Get yourself in a financial position that enables you to quit a job and survive without income for one year. Every job is temporary. You may lose a job. You may want to leave a job. In either case, having the security of savings will give you the power to make the best decisions for your business-of-one. Who wants to stay in a bad situation just for the money? Ask anyone who held on to a life-sucking job only to get laid-off how that worked for them. They’ll tell you they wish they could have left at the first sign of trouble.

7. Realize You Need Experiences And Setbacks To Move Forward

There is no real failure. We experience, learn, and grow. Stop playing it safe and start embracing your fear. As the old saying goes, “Life begins where your comfort zone ends.” You will not survive and thrive in your career if you don’t constantly learn new things. Making mistakes teaches us what not to do. That’s a good thing! Stop worrying about what others think and start worrying about what will happen if you don’t take control.

How are you taking ownership of your career? What other tips can you share for becoming an ultra-successful professional?

I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Related Posts

How To Be Successful And Happy At Work
5 Unhealthy Job Search Habits Keeping You Unemployed
What You Need To Have A Successful Career


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

J.T. O'Donnell

Job Search & Career Expert. Syndicated Speaker & Author. Wife. Mother. CEO of CAREEREALISM Media. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. Few points to add:

    Successful Professionals are least bothered about the office politics, they don’t care about such people who do.
    They are unique and they stay ahead of the crowd.
    They don’t work just for making reports, they work for themselves.

    • That’s an important distinction to make. Thanks for pointing it out!

      Finding internal motivation is one of the hardest things to do, which is why it’s a valuable skill to have.

  2. This article reads like a middle of the night wake up call!! All of us need this kind of advice before our career ship hits a hard rock somewhere in the deep sea. But i would love to hear more concrete advice about ways of keeping a whole year’s savings in the bank account before quitting a job!

    • Thanks for commenting Bernard. We’re glad to hear you enjoyed the post! We continually publish content with hard evidence, so be on the lookout for more of it.

  3. Hi Donnel
    You really rock it. I was really at the edge of my career and pretty depressing. But your words in this article really pumped my energies to stand up once again in this crowd.

    Wish you best of luck and keep sharing.


    • Thanks for the comment Riz! If there’s anything we can do to help you get even more out of our site, just let me know.

  4. My additional recommendation is to not be afraid to ask someone you admire on a professional level for advise. I mean that’s basically what we all do here on this website but a real life mentor you can discuss thoughts and plans with is priceless.

    • You’re absolutely right Daniela. The most successful people have multiple mentors. If you can get a mix of people at various points in their careers, it will help even more. It also can give you a boost if you become a mentor for someone else!

  5. Loving these tips… especially the last one!!! We as indivuduals really do hold the power of freedom and self will in our own hands, we just need to free the restrictions in our minds to believe it!!

  6. This article really helps me to rethink about myself. Now i am condifent about what i do . thnaks you very much !!!

  7. The description of the article does not do justice to this article. Yes on one level it advise us what successful professionals do; but on a deeper level it talks about a paradigm shift in your career. After 22 years with the same company, my position was eliminated. After some career transitioning assistance and articles like this one; I now understand the concept of Me Inc.

  8. Your article was very informative and well written. Number#3 stood out to me. How do you determine what your expertise focus should be if you are good at many things? How do you narrow your focus?

  9. I never like to be negative, and I will say a number of the items above are good, but there are surely few people who can get themselves into a position to have a years worth of savings in the bank to enable effect decision making. I get the principle, which is good, but is this realistic, seriously?

    • I think there’s subtext in saying “have a year’s worth of savings” — mainly, “take a hard look at your spending & get it under control before a layoff forces you to.” Once that’s done, I think it’s realistic for most professionals to save a year’s worth of expenses. It’ll take time, depending on the spending level you want to have when you’re not working, but I think it’s imminently doable. I think the real question is “Is it realistic to be able to have this done by the time I end up out of work?” As always, the answer is “It depends.” It depends on a ton of personal variables that I can’t account for in a comment, but overall I think it’s more realistic than people think if they’re willing to run the numbers and streamline their spending.

      • That’s a hard question Sandra. At this point, you should save any amount you can, even if it’s not much. If you can live without spending it in the meantime, it will give you a bigger cushion later. It isn’t easy, but it’s doable. Good luck!

  10. Thanks for sharing this, I really like the concept of your career has equity, in fact we as professionals have our own equity so it is time to start behaving with this in mind!

  11. Dear Sir,
    I am in a retail outlet. I do average as per the circumstances over here. Please suggest me how to increase my sale. I even tried by giving offers, services, better prices etc., to increase sale but it doesn’t work.

    With Regards

  12. Nick @

    I think it is vitally important that people start treating their careers more like they own their own business. Your business is your career. It is no longer a world where you can stay at one job for your whole life in most cases. I really liked your list and I think you and I share the same mindset.

  13. Dear Ms.JT O Donnel,
    Thank you for providing such a Vital Article which will helps many people who wanted to excel in their careers.It is very educative and encouraging for people like me.Thanks a lot.

  14. Interesting. I always enjoy your articles ’cause they always have a teaching. I´d like you to post something on 45-55 years old people looking for a job, that´s my case.

    • I’d be interested in reading articles for people 45-55; articles for those out of work and looking, looking to move further in their current careers, and those looking to transition from one career into something new or role in the same industry.

      Your articles are always informative. Thanks, JT.

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