4 Traits of High Performers

UPDATED: May 20, 2024
PUBLISHED: July 8, 2021
4 Traits of High Performers

Even if you can’t throw a football 70 yards, you might be what’s called a high-performance individual. These are people who have the grit and confidence to walk in their purpose every day—people like Olympian Allyson Felix and super entrepreneur Jeff Bezos.

But guess what? High performers don’t have to be famous. That person can be you, as long as you adopt the traits that fuel such a lifestyle.

In this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, SUCCESS People Editor Tristan Ahumada talks to Nicole Lynn, sports agent and author of Agent You: Show Up, Do the Work, and Succeed on Your Own Terms, about what it takes to be elite. Lynn is the first Black woman to represent a top-three NFL draft pick. She works with the best, and her experiences on Wall Street and as an attorney make her one of the best.

Are you looking to level up in all areas of your life? According to Lynn, high performers have four undeniable traits. 

1. They embrace their uniqueness so they can own their purpose.

Do you stand out within your profession? Lynn surely does. One percent of certified NFL agents are women, and that’s about 900 people. Few of them are Black. Because Lynn has both of those identifiers—Black and woman—she chooses to embrace her uniqueness 24/7. That’s when she became more than an agent, helping players succeed on and off the field.

So that’s step one: Embrace your uniqueness so you can live your authentic purpose.

“If you are not walking in your purpose, you are just working and living to die,” Lynn says. “To me, it means completing the most important mission of your life. It’s not just working day in and day out to one day leave this Earth. That’s not what we’re here for. It’s finding a way to make an impact.” 

Want to change your life while inspiring others? Look deep within and realize you’re the secret sauce to your own greatness. Whatever your superpower is, use it to sharpen your competitive edge.

2. They view themselves as a brand.

The hardest question to answer, for most people, isn’t, “What’s your long-term goal?” Achievers looking to become high performers already have an inkling. They might want to start a six-figure business that creates global, life-changing solutions. Or like the athletes Lynn represents, they might want to join the NFL.

In either case, the destination is clear. The next step is turning the whole package—your talents, goals, and ambitions—into a brand.

“I think that’s one of the hardest parts,” Lynn says. “People don’t see themselves as brands. And that’s from everything [you] put on social media to [your] website to what [you] say when [you] speak on panels. It all must align with the brand pillars.”

How will society define you as a human being? As a subject-matter expert? As a philanthropist? All of this and more depends on the brand you create for yourself

3. They have an elite mindset.

What sets high performers apart from everyone else? Do they have a specific, high-value talent everyone else lacks? Close, but not quite. Many people are born with talents they never get to use. Bridging the gap between wasted potential and self-actualization depends on the mindset you’ve adopted.

When Lynn is looking to sign elite athletes, she pays attention to three qualities:

  • How tough the player is mentally
  • The character they exude (respect and kindness)
  • Their passion for the game

The last quality is what fuels high performance. When you’re obsessed with your purpose, you give it your best shot.

“A lot of players are great at the game of football and do it because it pays a check, but they don’t love it,” Lynn says. “It’s no different than if you’re an amazing attorney, and you make good money, but it’s not your dream job. There are a bunch of players like that, and that’s OK. I prefer to represent people who love the game.”

4. They’re ready for anything, including failure.

Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. That’s a common saying most people accept but struggle to implement. Those that do are prepared for anything; these are the people who have their resume, business plan and website ready to go.

“You have no idea when you’re going to meet that person who can get you your dream job,” Lynn says. “You have no idea when you’re going to be able to pitch something, and it’s actually accepted.”

We can’t see the future, but we can prepare for those pivotal moments in life.

You also have to be ready for failure. When Lynn signs a new player, she sits them down to discuss the realities of football. Ninety-nine percent of the time, that’s getting injured or being cut from the team. Together, they create an exit plan that flows from one season of life to the next.

You can do the same for your career. Anticipate those life-shattering moments (without brooding on them) and come up with a plan B. You never know what’s going to happen, but becoming and staying elite is something you can plan for. 

Brilliant Thoughts with Tristan Ahumada is no longer releasing new episodes on the SUCCESS Podcast Network, but you can still listen to the full conversation below.

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Lydia Sweatt

Lydia Sweatt is a freelance writer, bookworm, and bass guitar enthusiast. When she goes outside, a bicycle goes with her.