11 plus 1 Traits That Require Zero Talent And Boost Success

How to boost performance from the get go.

High performance

High performance

The pursuit of tough goals is designed to stretch your skills and abilities. During this continual tough battle there remain some specific points that will help you achieve more than you thought possible.

These areas require zero talent and can be used to provide a continual boost in performance from the start to completion.

The advice we share today applies both to business and personal development goals


1 Being on Time

Your ability to be on time for meetings, targets, deadlines and expectation’s is the smooth secret cog to success.

Make clear to your network that they are also expected to be on time.

By improving your abilities and expectations on others to be on time an increase of mutual respect and trust is generated.

  • Being on time will help develop the discipline that creates dependability and diligence.

Be on time and use the time with wisdom

Be on time and use the time with wisdom

Example of being on time in business.

Imagine a meeting where 10 people attend and yet one person is late by 3 minutes. To the person arriving late it does not feel too bad, also to the people attending this allows time to settle into their chairs, review their slides and key points or finish of the odd email.

The reality however is 30 business operational minutes has just been wasted.

Half of one business operational hour comes at a price beyond just the salary levels of each person in attendance. It impacts the tone of the meeting, the level of seriousness taken of the meeting agenda and your ability to generate trust across the attendees.

Top Tip: Treat your meeting times with the same priority as an important meeting about your personal career or salary. If you would be late for those, then leave your job!

Example in daily life for being on time. 

Your friend has reserved a table to share brunch. The person shows up normally 10 minutes late and yet you always show up on time. You arrive and are greeted by the café staff.

Here, you make an excuse on your friend’s behalf that they are running late. When shown to your table, the staff asks what drink you will have. You again, need to make some excuse to wait for your decision because you are unsure if this brunch is going to be a wine, coffee or water type drinking event. You are sat alone and look around smiling at other people.

Top Tip: Make a clear statement to your friend and social network how important it is to you and your day to be on time. Ensure they understand how you feel and make clear any consequences in future their lateness will bring to your relationship.

Key lessons for great time keeping:-

  • Being late does not show respect or signal significant importance to the event or people and the purpose of the meeting.

  • The consequences go beyond economic and social expectations.

  • Being on time is the most optimal, respectful and positive course of action.

Hard working effort

Hard working effort

2. Your Effort levels

Your endeavor to achieve a goal is often a clear measure of your commitment level and is correlated to your chances of success. The impact of technology on expectations is being seen at school, business and in life.

You see that people expect things to just happen for them easily and conveniently. It is important to train your mind and body in the areas of effort that is required. This does not mean that you should not also seek efficiency.

A highly efficient person whom combines high effort levels will achieve great things swiftly.

Business example why effort levels matter.

Winners are frequently popular people and brands; however a deeper emotional connection can often be felt for those that try the hardest. The success of the soccer team Leicester City in the English Premier League was shared across the globe during 2015.

Their story as a relatively small club fighting against the largest teams gained massive attraction and support due to their success and efforts. They are known to have raised their effort levels in all areas. The combined effect made them competitors on the field playing in a style with passion and effort that generated results better than their opponents.

Top Tip: Make the very best optimal effort from every opportunity and set very high expectations. Never give up through lack of effort.

An example of personal triumph through considerable effort:

Watch this inspirational video of double amputee Amy Purdy whom became a double world champion snowboarder. Amy shows the results of considerable effort over time despite considerable physical hurdles.

Top Tip: Effort can be physical or mental or indeed both. Research the smartest solutions to optimize the effort you bring to a task for maximum output and productivity.

Key lessons for effort levels:-

  • Effort needs to be managed in waves to sustain long periods of high performance.

  • Productivity is time multiplied by effort plus variables (including internal and external effects)

  • Seek the smartest technology and information to support your effort levels, not replace them.

3.     Your willingness to change

Young children are the most adaptable humans. As we become older, people find it harder to change their behaviors. It is important to develop a need and want for change.

This establishes the willingness to try, fail and eventually succeed at new habits and behaviors or skills.

The process to develop a willingness to change should include a) an initial curiosity and consideration if a new method or direction is both desirable and achievable. b) A moral purpose and ethical decision needs to be embraced to align your values to the change you seek. c) Preparation and a small trial of the desired change should be engaged. d) Consistent action and review of progress with a focus on positive outcomes. e) Respecting that an occasional mistake, error and relapse of behavior is common.

Business example for a willingness to change.

Kodak old signs

Kodak old signs

One of the biggest examples to share about the need to embrace and develop a business culture for change is Kodak.

Depending on your age as a reader you may or may not be familiar with the brand name. Let me assure you that Kodak was a brand that penetrated the globe as deep and as far as Coca Cola.

Kodak made their business from camera film and did not embrace the digital image market and became bankrupt in 2012.

At its peak Kodak earned over 16 billion USD in annual revenue and employed over 143,000 staff.  The price they paid for a lack of willingness to change in market conditions is evident in the fact of its closure.

Top Tip: Present your arguments from a position of facts and stand by them clearly but listen as though you are wrong.

Example of personal willingness to change.

DOS code

DOS code

I recall coming back to the UK after travelling and climbing for a couple of years. Suddenly I found people talking about “Windows” and using their “mouse”. I learned quickly the need to adopt new technology skills and indeed broaden my educational scope away from engineering and into business to follow the job market and economic trend within outsourcing.

Top Tip: Seek for opportunity and positive change through continual learning.

Key lessons for change:-

  • External events may create new opportunity for positive or negative change.

  • Change for change sake is not the same as purposeful change.

  • Adaptability and openness creates a curious mind.

4.     Your work ethic/hustle

The ability to establish consistent results can be found in your work ethic. The key attributes to great work ethical behavior include a) Dependability on solid robust systems and your own personality. b) Professionalism sounds vague but includes the seriousness, quality and approach in which you take on the task in hand and those around you. c) Respect for the task outcome and people in which you are engaged. d) Accountability through the acceptance of personal responsibility with your actions. e) Resilience to pursue a positive result and the determination to see things through to a positive conclusion. f) Humility by sharing credit to those whom deserve it and remaining humble with big achievements.

A colossus within the entrepreneurial space is Gary Veynerchuck. He is known and respected for his tough work ethic. In this video Gary talks about “hustle”, just replace it with work ethic for the context of this article.

Top Tip: Review your own approach to work ethic and create a plan to improve in a single area every month for a year.

An example of personal work ethic in daily life.

An elderly lady who lives on my street suffered a medical condition a few years ago. She committed to living a healthier lifestyle. Every day, no matter the weather at 11 am I see her go out on her bike. I state this clearly, even if the weather is raining at 11 am and expected to dry up by 2 pm; she is on her bike at 11 am.

This dedication and commitment to an improved lifestyle is seen in her health and happiness.

Top Tip: Create a new daily commitment to something new; stick with it no matter what. It will help build the ability to make and create changes in other areas of your life.

Key lessons to implement a solid work ethic:-

  • Commit to something and stick to it.

  • A great work ethic is established over time not once.

  • Set examples and standards of work ethic and then live by them.

5.     Body Language

The way you communicate with your body language is an immensely powerful tool and an integral part of daily life. You can see if someone is happy, sad, looking frail, scared or bold. This area of life is an often over looked element in personal development.

Body language in action

Body language in action

Within the sales and leadership fields, body language is a critical tool and skill for maximum success. The correct body language skills help establish authority, empathy and openness in yourself and others. Being able to read peoples body language helps adjust your own behaviors to maximize the results and outcomes from interactions.

Consider these questions within a business context to discover your own examples

How do you react to a sad looking sales assistant or waiter? If they are looking everywhere other than at you when placing your order, how do you feel? Have you ever spoken to a leader who you thought looked grumpy and not nice only to hear positive things about them later from colleagues? When was the last time someone came to you at work asking if you were OK and you were surprised by their comment and opinion of your state of mind?

Top Tip: To develop body language skills, start with smiling to everyone and holding eye contact. Then observe over a week how people react to each other based on their body language.

My personal example of body language learning

Haggling for a good price starts with the smallest of body signals

Haggling for a good price starts with the smallest of body signals

I studied martial arts for over 14 years and during that time I learned and fine-tuned my understanding of body language.

It is a skill that requires no talent but more an open mind and willingness to question in different ways the behavior and reaction of others.

I discovered that simply forming an opinion based on a classic body posture can be wrong and it is important to introduce variables in an interaction to verify people’s body signals.

This can be done by understanding the comfort zone level that people feel between physical distance between each other, comfort levels of the seats provided and the length of time they have been in a position, plus consideration to what external factors could be affecting their current behavior.

Top Tip: Review your own body language and ask yourself how and why you have behaved in a certain way in different social situations.

Key lessons to improve body language:-

  • Depending on the study you read, an estimated 55% of communication is done through body language.

  • Testing and variation helps confirm or deny your initial understanding of a body language statement.

  • Shake hands, hold eye contact, mirror positions, open your arms, keep a low tone of voice and smile to make a positive start and improvement in body language.

6.     Your Energy Levels

Use the power of energy levels

Use the power of energy levels

There are the same 24 hours in a day for everyone, so how is it that some people are able to produce more worth and remain productive with great levels of concentration than others? The answer is seen in personal energy levels and the results speak for themselves.

You can often visit a business or enter a social setting and spot the overall energy level in the people. Managing the correct level of energy is a free boost for performance but should also be done in a sensitive manner.

A business example of great energy levels.

One simple way to introduce and refreshing boost to work place energy is to ask a simple question. What area in life and what area in business are you excited about today? This simple question provides the power of reflection and alignment of purpose in our actions.

The room will gain a lift as each person shares positive expectations. You also gain a positive solutions mindset and a deeper willingness to collaborate.

Top Tip: Improvements in office lighting, taking frequent breaks, changing body positions and providing fresh fruit all add to boost business energy levels.

Clear step examples to improve personal energy levels.

Each person has a responsibility to maintain your own high levels of energy. Follow these steps to create a personal lift in your energy. a) Ensure you have the correct vitamins in your daily diet. b) Take a brisk walk and enjoy some exercise on a regular basis. c) Ensure to take adequate rest breaks d) Eat regular healthy meals across the whole day e) avoid too much coffee and replace with natural water to sustain hydration levels. f) Review your emotional state for signs of anxiety and stress.

Top Tip: Start with daily improvements and increase these positive behaviors and habits over time, do not worry if you slip occasionally, and just continue from where you began.

Key lessons to improve energy levels:-

  • Many variables effect your energy levels, concentrate on small but high impact gains.

  • Avoid negative situations and remain positive and open with others.

  • Take responsibility to maintain your personal energy levels.

7.     Passion

Passionate people by definition are more excited than others about their subject or task. Being passionate will help you become prepared and willing to take some risks for success that others will shy away from.

We are brought up with the crazy scientist image of a person willing to do everything no matter the costs to others or themselves to achieve their scientific purpose to completion. I am pleased to confirm this level of obsession is not needed in every part of life but bringing passion simply helps.

I recall an example whilst I was doing some training in India. One of the participants asked “James, how can you have so much energy in what you do?” My answer was simple, “I am passionate about helping others and enjoying the day, every day”.

Top Tip: Many people struggle to define what they are passionate about, start by looking at things you would not give up.

The inspiring Gary Veynerchuk provides below some reality and views plus on passion.

Top Tip: Review the video and ask others to describe when they see you most happy and passionate. The answers may surprise you.

Key lessons:-

  • Your passion may be temporary so be aware of changes in your emotions.

  • Seek how you can align significant parts of your day to a deep interest and passion in life.

  • The more passion you develop the higher the chances of success.

8.     Doing Extra

Limits, like fear, is often an illusion.
— Michael Jordan

How do you stand out from the crowd? When have you felt the most satisfied and rewarded from doing an outstanding task? The answer is simple, do more, and do a little extra than everyone else. This is the key to high performance, great customer service, developing outstanding relationships and living a fun fulfilled life.

The more you do, the more opportunity in skills, mastery and experience is gained.

Here is a great business example of doing extra.

Samsung was requested by an existing customer to provide them a free new phone. The customer drew a dragon. Samsung answered this request perfectly and gave him a kangaroo on a unicycle instead.

A perfect response that went that extra little mile whilst protecting their values, principles and need for profit.

Customer care with Samsung Canada

Customer care with Samsung Canada

Top Tip: Create a challenge within your business to reward people for doing something extra well. This gamification idea will help create a culture of higher performance.

In your personal life one thing brings a smile to our faces. This is the satisfaction we feel by doing something a little extra for someone else. For the person receiving the gesture it also bonds you closer with established respect and deepens the relationship.

One small example is my neighbor. She wanted to borrow our rotavator to prepare her garden for planting potatoes. I topped the machine up with fuel and done half of her garden for her, just to be nice. She returned the compliment by returning my rotavator fully topped up with fuel again but also after having cleaned the whole machine to a shiny new standard again.

Top Tip: Commit to doing something extra for everyone you serve and talk to today then reflect upon how you feel at the end of the day.

Key lessons:-

  • The extra amount you do can vary but try to make it a noticeable difference

  • Do extra for other people and do not expect anything in return, this is to help discipline and develop higher performance levels for you over time,

  • Do not sacrifice your principles or allow yourself or business to be taken advantage of by doing extra

9.     Attitude

How you respond to situations, events and enact behavior is most frequently measured as your attitude. Performing the same task with a different attitude makes a considerable impact to the end result. Your attitude is made up from 3 key areas. a) Emotion. Your emotional state to a task can be positive, negative or neutral. These emotional states are seen as critical in service sector jobs and positions of potential bias within public sector work such as the legal system. b) Informational. The ability to recall information affects your attitude. For example, on an initial interaction of a snake I experience a negative fearful reaction which is quickly replaced with a positive curious state based on the knowledge the snake is not necessarily an overtly aggressive animal. c) Behavioral. This is the most visible part of attitude and is the observed result of your decisions.

To create a positive attitude at work here are some great example tips to boost individual and team performance. 1) Gratitude: Give praise and thanks to those around you that deserve it. Take time to reward and celebrate positive outcomes no matter how small or big. Share your celebration and give thanks to those whom made the outcome possible. 2) refresh yourself and others: Seek opportunities to have a bit of fun in what you do, share a random act of kindness to others and take a new perspective on tasks to seek a renewed enthusiasm.

Top Tip: Set reminders in your calendar to check your personal attitude and provide rapid feedback in the workplace to those who demonstrate continual negative attitudes.

In your personal life there are some simple and yet transformational ways to improve your attitude. Take on this list and implement it for a week. 1) Smile more 2) Avoid negative people and negative discussions 3) Read inspirational stories and quotes. 4) Visualize success in specific areas of your life and relationships 5) Develop your own positive affirmations.6) Learn something every day, even if it is a new wise quote or a detail about someone you care for. 7) Consider creating a vision board

Key lessons:-

  • Attitude is a mental choice.

  • Improving the information you have on a task can help change attitude behavior

  • Accept the responsibility to review and help others improve their attitude.

10. Taking Action

The more I get done, the more I get done

Movement and speed are the results from taking positive action. There is no point in having all the knowledge, information, skills and will power unless this transforms into action. It is important to realize perfection is a poor excuse for inaction.

Experience is gained through doing something, anything else is hypothetical theory. Improvement comes from the refinement and repetition of tasks to explore and discover the optimal way to perform a task or function.

Within the business world the term for minimal viable product (MVP) is all about taking action. The idea is to create a saleable product or service so market feedback can then generate a response to help you adjust and improve to match their needs.

The extensive use of project management is also simply about getting things done and taking action, these are clear step tactics used within companies wishing to move away from stagnation and into a dynamic culture.

Top Tip: Educate people within the workplace about the concepts of MVP and introduce learning on project management. Then ask employees to create action steps using the concepts.

You can explore the internet and find tens of thousands of inspirational stories from people who decided to take control and action into their lives for radical change. The classic before and after health photos spring to mind in this case. Simply making a personal decision and taking the first steps leads to great results.

I personally had not run for many years. I set a goal to run a half marathon and can assure you taking action was the only way I crossed the finish line several months later.

Top Tip: Expect mistakes and failures along the way but do not let set-backs stop your end goal desires.

Key lessons:-

  • Any action, no matter how small is better than doing nothing, start today.

  • Accept that the odd mistake and set back will occur, get over it and take more positive action.

  • Adaptability and change will require new levels of motivation to continue taking action.

11. Being Prepared

Prepared from the bottom up

Prepared from the bottom up

We take preparation for granted in many parts of our lives. I come across people who say they are messy and disorganized and struggle with preparation. Some simple questions highlight a different picture.

  • What is your morning routine?

  • Where are your keys, mobile phone and money placed?

  • What are you eating tonight?

  • What are your plans this weekend?

  • Do you have extra toilet paper, toothpaste and food in your property?

  • Why do you not throw away your winter clothes in the summer?

We are often more prepared than we think. A review of common habitual behaviors highlights areas in our lives and business where preparation is common practice. This then simply needs to be applied across other parts of our tasks and actions.

Business use of preparation

The extensive use of check lists, value stream mapping and procedures in the business world is a perfect example of how systems prepare for eventual outcomes to maintain high standards. The business drives for increased efficiency is a great example of how preparation can be performed in optimal and world class levels.

Top Tip: Find the highest quality performers in your industry and take inspiration from their preparation techniques to apply for your own business.

Personal example of preparation

Skydive fun over Germany : Safety is king here

Skydive fun over Germany : Safety is king here

Every time I go sky diving I ensure I have prepared all my equipment. I check that my parachute has been packed correctly, emergency handles in place and check the condition of my equipment fully.

I have a preparation period to review all the safety aspects for my jump.

I then prepare with others what type of jump we will perform; at what altitude we will separate and deploy our parachutes.

We then practice the jump (called a dirt dive) on the ground. At each phase of the jump experience we perform preparation checks and understand what to do if plans do not go as agreed. These are important to ensure our movements become automatic.

We have prepared so fully for the event that we remain fully in control and calm whilst falling from the sky at speeds in excess of 120mph (200kph) towards the earth.

Top Tip: Develop a sequence in your preparation techniques so it can be repeated in future. Review your preparation to find more optimal methods and learn from experience.

Bonus Tip: The 7P’s: Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents a Particularly Poor Performance

11+1. Doing Nothing

You have a choice. Do nothing, nothing at all, that is something that requires zero talent, ambition or desire. Your result will at best be nothing, simply stagnant. The most probable outcome from doing nothing is decay, loss and failure. I am sure, if you have read all the content from this article so far, then you will not have to worry about this last danger.

Have we missed any others?

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James Doyle - Chief Positive Traits Officer - JAMSO

James Doyle - Chief Positive Traits Officer - JAMSO

JAMSO supports people and business. For goal setting, goal management, metrics, key performance indicators, business intelligence and analytics. Our clients are personal and business to business partners.


  • Written by James Doyle, founder of JAMSO. We have over 100 free articles, tools and resources for your success, including a great newsletter, subscribe now.