The One Skill That Will Help You Make Better Business Decisions

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MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: What are three skills that are critical to success? is written by Lindsay Pattison, global CEO of Maxus.

I still remember the moment I looked up at the scoreboard to see my name in lights. I sought my dad’s face in the crowd, ran to my coach and teammates, and celebrated the win that got me into Great Britain’s swim trials for the Barcelona Olympics. That was the most successful moment of my swimming career and one I still cherish it to this day. Since then, I’ve learned that success is one goal we all share, even if we define it differently. From beating my three older siblings for the last cookie, to the moment my title changed from “U.K. CEO” to “global CEO” I’ve equated success with the feeling of pride, gratitude and a desire to do better. And while it can mean any number of things, there are a few distinct personal qualities I’ve found to be key in achieving success, regardless of your career or individual objectives.

One of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve been given is to “always put your hand up.” In meetings, during conferences, at company events — roll your shoulders back, speak up, and make your presence known. It’s a skill I like to think I mastered growing up as the youngest of four, where we always competed to be heard and noticed. Of course, developing your own unique presence is about much more than good posture and voiced opinions. You must feel comfortable in your own skin, confident in your abilities and in the fact that you’ve earned the right to be there. So own it.

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“Be interesting and interested” is a mantra I love and live by. From my early days at Young & Rubicam to my current role at Maxus, I have always been one to ask questions – lots of questions. I believe in taking passionate interest in your work and maintaining a keen sense of curiosity – these are vital parts of staying both interested and interesting. Curiosity not only keeps us from falling into routine and bias, it also allows us to uncover new insights and generate fresh ideas. It may have killed the cat, but I’d argue it makes a good CEO.

Lastly, it’s important to remind ourselves that no matter the business we’re in, there will be moments that push us to our limits and test our strength in impossible ways. This is where resilience comes into play. Some of the same principles I applied to my time as a competitive swimmer are equally relevant in my professional career today — namely agility, a thick skin, and determination. I trained relentlessly, and while I won many races, I lost my fair share as well. But come hell or high water, great wins or rough losses, I was in that pool day after day. To succeed, we have to be resilient, always learning from our mistakes and keeping our eye on the ‘prize.’ Maintain a positive outlook and an unwavering determination to reach your goals, and you’re sure to thrive in whatever you do.

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