By Brian Mitchell, CEO & Managing Partner

Coming up on nearly a decade of executive recruitment in the digital media and technology arena, I have accumulated a lot of different experiences through thousands of conversations with highly accomplished executives and those less accomplished as well. What are the common threads of differentiation between the high achievers and the would’ve crowd?

Desire. Napoleon Hill wrote in "Think and Grow Rich", that "desire is the starting point of all achievement." Simple words that ring so true in life and vocation. I have not met a consistently successful entrepreneur, CEO, product leader, salesperson, etc. that was not absolutely relentless in their desire to win. The high achievers do not have a back up plan, they do not have a safety net, they are all in.

Accountability. The highly successful do not rationalize any lack of success on circumstance or other people. Wherever we go in life or profession, there is one common denominator – ourselves – and the high achievers accept blame and credit for their level of success. People who ultimately prove successful find themselves in changed situations, they can make a poor career decision, they sometimes fail. But these successful people also learn, improve and use these experiences as preparatory building blocks for their next big step. The best know that excuses are dull.

Work Hard. The highly successful absolutely believe they will succeed, they begin with that end in mind, and do an incredible amount of heavy lifting grunt work. When people say "you need to work smart", they believe the smartest thing they can do is work hard. The high achievers know that to be truly great (and not just good) they will need to put in thousands of hours towards their objectives. They know some of it will be a grind yet they WANT to do it because it gets them closer to their goal. They embrace setbacks, learn, get up and keep striving towards self-actualization.

Give. Successful business leaders know the relational irony that the most selfish thing they can do is to be unselfish. They invest in team members, provide feedback, make introductions and do favors for people. They are selective about their investment of time and energy, but they know that this collegial perspective with others will always come back full circle and pay dividends. They genuinely like having an impact on other people’s development and success which inherently increases their own odds to succeed.

There are plenty of other attributes that achievers share however, these four interwoven characteristics are remarkably consistent. What are the personal and professional elements you feel are most important to maximize your own success in order to achieve your dreams? Document them, internalize them and make them happen.