Five Traits You Need to Get to the Top

Key characteristics can help you overcome personal and professional setbacks and achieve success.


"Phil" has been involved in healthcare for more than 15 years. He began as an EMT-Basic working for a small private ambulance company and pursued his dream of becoming a paramedic. Midway through his paramedic school, the ambulance company he worked for was sold, and Phil was out of a job. Still driven to obtain his paramedic certification, and despite the job loss, he made some decisions to "make it happen." He moved to a smaller apartment closer to school, sold his vehicle for a more economical model, and eliminated any extra social spending. He also found himself studying more than in the past. While he realized he had more time to study due to his job loss, he also found himself more driven than before to successfully complete school.

Within six months Phil successfully completed paramedic school and had a job lined up with a large ambulance service in a nearby city. He worked a variety of shifts during his first few years with the company and was considered a star performer. When a supervisor slot opened, Phil applied. While he was considered by many a likely fit, he was not selected for the position.

Unscathed, Phil continued to work as a paramedic and began to teach classes at the local community college. Phil's classes soon earned him a reputation for being academically challenging while being very realistic and energizing. Waiting lists developed for his courses. Phil was having a blast working as a paramedic and teaching on the side. He considered things to be going very well.

Then Phil was involved in a serious automobile collision. He sustained a broken leg and ribs, and had a closed head injury. Following a brief hospitalization, Phil began the recovery process. Due to wearing a cast and being on crutches, he was not able to work in the field as a paramedic. He was offered a light-duty job teaching continuing education courses for the ambulance company. He accepted and began teaching on a full-time basis. While Phil missed working in the field, he found he was really enjoying teaching.

Phil continued to teach courses for the ambulance company and also taught on his days off at the community college. Witnessing the waiting lists for his classes, the hiring manager at the college recognized that Phil had a unique talent for teaching and asked if he would be interested in applying for a new faculty position. Phil applied and landed the job. Once he recovered from his injuries, he resumed part-time paramedic shifts. Life was good.

Over the next several years Phil continued to teach on a full-time basis and work in the field as well. The program director at the community college retired, and Phil was selected to become the new director. He and his staff developed some new and innovative programs for the college. The program Phil oversaw received academic awards for innovation. Phil's career had reached a new high.

This story describes the success one individual achieved in his career. It also highlights a few characteristics that helped make it happen. Despite some major setbacks and challenges, Phil was consistently able to recover and succeed. A key aspect to his success was his passion. He knew, or at least had a good idea of, what he wanted to do in his career, and he pursued it with energy.

What are the traits that helped Phil develop a successful career despite the series of roadblocks he encountered? Embrace these, and you will improve your own prospects as well.

1) Energy: The ability to arrive at work with positive energy to get the job done is significant. While everyone has a bad day from time to time, the individual with an exceptional energy level stands out. Phil was able to transition through some challenges, but his performance still stood out.

2) Motivation: The motivation to succeed despite obstacles is important. Phil survived a serious car accident and had to recover. Once he recovered, his performance continued to excel. He also recognized that the more motivated he was, the more it supported his energy level, and vice versa.

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