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Top performers are a different breed. I’m not sure if they’re born or made, but they use their personal narratives to find the inspiration to make an impact in the world. They’re passionate about their purpose. They connect easily with others. They’re respectful to everyone, subordinate and superior alike. And they’re adept at having fun, even when the heat is on and the stress is palpable. Somehow their confidence and resolve get them through.

I’ve worked with top performers. I’ve had the great fortune to coach with high performers. Here’s what they’ve taught me about excelling in life:

Top performers are wonderful at creating a memorable first impression. They understand the subtleties of working their verbal and nonverbal signals to telegraph their availability, interest in others, appetite for life.

Top performers enjoy what they are doing. They’re passionate about their purpose. They recognize life’s fragility and move through the setbacks with resolve. Don’t misunderstand me: these people have had their share of curveballs. The difference is that they knew when to swing and when to duck.

Top performers are curious. They love to learn new things. They’re interested in knowing what makes other people "tick" and they use that probing manner to acquire information, the coin of the realm.

Top performers look good. We’re not talking beauty contests here but a polished, supremely confident appearance enhances their power and persuasion abilities. They use their packaging wisely.

Top performers think like race car drivers. They know they can accelerate into a curve, using the car’s momentum for control and velocity. The metaphor holds for everything you do — move forward with confidence and competence, giving life everything you’ve got.

Top performers are excellent communicators. They’re gifted listeners. They’re adept at separating the context from the content. They welcome dissent. And most importantly, they’re fully present so the speaker feels respected and acknowledged.

Top performers build great teams. They inspire collegiality and cooperation. They empower others to achieve and be the best at what they do. They’re unafraid of showing their true authentic self, warts and all.

And finally, top performers are fun to be with. They filter life’s vicissitudes through the lens of irony, humor, jest and a healthy dollop of self-deprecation. They work hard and they laugh even harder. It’s no wonder they’re at the top of their game.

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