Yesterday, I was doing research for a new project for Outperform The Norm. As I went through the top 20 articles on Google for characteristics of high performers, I thought I’d have a little fun and put them into a WordCloud. Below is what it produced:


Next, I identified the top 10 that jumped out at me and wrote my insights on how you can have them (if you don’t already). These 10 things are what move the needle in your life, personally and professionally.

Let’s go…

1. Confidence

Without a doubt, the grand daddy of outperforming is Confidence. It is the ONE thing that was consistently mentioned…in almost every article I read.

Like any of these things, no one is born with confidence. It is something you create. Something you choose. Preparation is a great way to build confidence but it mostly starts with knowing that you need no good reason to be confident. Just choose to be that way, from the moment you wake up! Why would you choose the alternative?

2. Work Ethic

Think about the things you TRULY value in your life (relationships, awards, achievements) - were these things easy or did they require work?

Anything worthwhile requires rolling up your sleeves, honoring your commitment and doing it…even when times get tough and you don’t feel like it.

3. Resiliency

The highest achievers and the greatest successes are also the biggest failures.

Here’s the problem - we only see the AFTER. We never see the BEFORE. Behind every Outperformer is someone who has failed, failed, failed, failed, and failed again, but they keep at it, and THAT is why they’ve ultimately succeeded.

4. Networker

No one Outperforms alone. The loftier the outcome, the more it will require the input and the help of others.

Another word to use here is Resourcefulness. Outperformers are able to connect the dots with the resources (sometimes, people) to get what they want. Instead of sweating what they lack, they focus on what they HAVE. And they use it.

5. Competitive

I’m a believer that competition (if done correctly) makes everyone better. I think removing competition gives people a false sense of security and that’s just not how the real world works.

Here’s the difference - Outperformers are competitive with THEMSELVES. They don’t wait around for managers to set their quotas and give them benchmarks. They set their own high standards and competitively strive to reach them.

6. Vision

Notice that goals are nowhere on this list? Or in the WordCloud? I don’t even remember it being mentioned in any of the articles I read.

Goals are easy and safe to talk about but they don’t inspire people. Having a crystal clear VISION for what you want your life to look like and making the conscious decisions to bring this to fruition, does. Vision is also what inspires people to follow you.

7. Intellect

This has nothing to do with IQ, standardized test scores or the GPA you got in school. It has to do with continuously feeding your mind and mastering your craft. It’s part of the reason I have the tagline on my personal email, “Readers are Leaders. Learners are Earners.

8. Flexibility

Confession - as I’m writing this, I’ve got the TV show Shark Tank on in the background (I’m a fan). Every now and then an entrepreneur will come into the tank and, even though their business keeps losing money, they’re too stubborn to change their thinking and try something different.

Being an Outperformer means you’re focused and confident, but you’re also flexible enough to make course corrections and realize when something isn’t working, then taking the necessary steps to do something about it.

9. Values

Values are the things that hold the most importance to you. They are the things you will NEVER compromise…in any situation.

Be who you are. Outperformers know who they are with someone is who they are with everyone. Who they are in anything is who they are in everything.

Let your values be your rock. Losing sight of them also means losing the trust of those around you.

10. Positivity

True Outperformers understand that you catch more bees with honey than vinegar (I think that’s the line, right?). They have a short-term memory of failure and a long-term memory of success.

Remaining positive and upbeat, regardless of circumstances, allows Outperformers to take calculated risks, effectively respond to adversity and rally other like-minded people around them.


Look at these 10 things like spokes of a bicycle wheel. Some of them you probably embody every day. Others may be more of a struggle.

You can still move forward with a couple of broken spokes, but not at nearly the velocity you could if everything was solid and working in harmony. Self-Awareness means harnessing your strengths but also recognizing what's necessary to improve your weaknesses.

Enjoy the day!

- Scott


Want To Perform At The Highest Level in 2015?


P.S For those of you who are curious where I got this info, here are the references 🙂 9 Characteristics of Top Performers
Fast Company: The 5 Traits All Top Performers Share
Workopolis: The 8 Characteristics of a Star Performer
Wagepoint: 5 Characteristics of Top Performers
Career Horizons: Top 10 “High Performer” Characteristics
HR Insights Blog: The 8 Defining Qualities of Top Talent
The Globe and the Mail: Five Qualities of Top Employees
Caliper: What Makes Top Performers So Productive
The Leadership Edge: Six Qualities of a Top Performer
Remke: Seven Personality Traits of Top Performers
Competitive-Streak: The Psychology of Top Performers
Careertopia: 10 Proven Qualities of a Top Performer
Chron: Characteristics of a High Performing Employee
The Entrepreneur Circle: Top 10 Characteristics of Peak Performers
Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life: Achieving Peak Performance
Accounting Web: Common Characteristics of Peak Performers Six Characteristics of Achieving Peak Performance
Peak Performance Solutions: Peak Performance in the Workplace
Moore Leadership & Peak Performance: Keys to Success…Character Traits of Peak Performers