The #1 Factor for Career Success

Posted on August 1, 2023

Here’s a question for you.

What would you say is the single most important factor for success in the business world?

Early in my career I worked for a very astute management psychologist, a real pro, who had no doubts about the answer to that question. His conviction was solid as granite.

Time and time again I heard him say, “In my professional opinion, the single most important trait for career success is a high energy level.” He ranked it above brainpower, personality, or academic credentials. He considered it more important than a person’s looks, emotional intelligence, or whatever.

Want to know what I think?

I’ve studied people and been an advisor to all kinds of organizations for some 50 years now. I know success depends on lots of different things. Many personality traits are important, along with certain skills and abilities. But I agree—a high energy level is the single most critical asset for career success.

Why would that be the premier factor?

Go to the dictionary and look up the formal definition of energy. You’ll find that, in the scientific vocabulary of physics, energy is defined as “the capacity to do work.”

Think about that.

Energy is the fuel, the very life force, for a person as well as a business. Without energy, everything dies. No work gets done. Nothing moves. And all the other assets—whether talents, personality traits, or even machinery—become irrelevant.

Sure, you want talent. Skills and abilities are important. But a person with high talent and low energy is like a Ferrari slogging along on watery, low octane gasoline. Capabilities aren’t worth much without fuel to power actual performance.

By no means does a high energy level guarantee success. But the less energy you have to work with, the less likely you are to deliver impressive results.

This brings us to the three key aspects of energy management:

  1. Generation. You need to create the energy necessary for high performance. Eat right, get good sleep, and exercise. Maybe take B-complex vitamins. Drink water. Engage in work that plays to your strengths and set goals that excite you.
  2. Conservation. Take steps to preserve and protect your precious energy supply. Avoid negative people and thoughts that drain your spirit. Don’t waste yourself on mindless TV or social media. Stay healthy, because sickness is an energy killer.
  3. Focus. Concentrate your energy on what counts most. Spend your “capacity to do work” on its highest and best use. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Raise your energy level and you’ll be able to do more. You’ll be able to do it faster, better, and with a brighter spirit. That makes you far better positioned to achieve you².

“And what is a man without energy? Nothing—nothing at all.”

—Mark Twain


Price Pritchett is one of the foremost experts on fast-growth strategies and breakthrough performance. His firm—PRITCHETT, LP—is recognized worldwide for its thought leadership on mergers, corporate culture, change management, and accelerated achievement. These writings define the behaviors and individual mindset underlying fast growth and innovation.


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