I recently received an email from a young executive in Mali, Africa, in response to an article I'd written for Forbes. "Can everyone be a successful business builder? Is it a realistic notion?" she asked.
"Surely not everyone can succeed at this most difficult endeavor," she wrote. "Why do some flourish and others fail? Clearly, the odds of high achievement are challenging."
I liken award winners to a ride in an F-16. A few years ago, the Air Force invited my daughter, Megan, to fly in one of the Thunderbirds' aircraft in the clear blue skies over the Wasatch Mountains.
The pilot said the flight plan included a barrel roll before landing. Just before the last maneuver, however, the base commander said there was a change in plans. The passenger wasn't feeling well.
Apparently, during some of the steeply banked turns of this amusement ride from Hades, Megan had lost her lunch.
The cheers of spectators welcomed her at touchdown. It was several minutes before an exhausted and wearied aviator disembarked from her aircraft.
Once she was composed, I asked what she'd thought.
"Dad, it was the most exhilarating experience of my life but, at the same time, the most frightful. I will never forget the excitement and awe of flying so fast across the sky. There is nothing like it."
High-speed flight and entrepreneurship have much in common. To me, the following list represents the personal attributes of high-soaring entrepreneurs (as well as great pilots).
* Overwhelming desire to succeed.
Without doubt, distinguished entrepreneurs have a passion to build a flourishing enterprise. They think about it constantly. They are obsessed with a dream and pursue it unflaggingly.
Great entrepreneurs are courageous and exhibit true grit. Their indomitable spirit drives them to reach beyond themselves. They are fearless.
* The will and ability to take risks.
Successful entrepreneurs understand the cost and benefits of engaging in the unknown. They have a peculiar faith to try, no matter the odds.
These individuals are flexible and can pivot as needed. They can stay motivated and fulfilled, even with the deep lows and euphoric highs of starting and growing a fluctuating business.
These overachievers overcome every barrier and never give up.
* Preparation and organization.
They can spend a sufficient amount of time marshaling the resources required to complete every task. They have the skills to manage the components that lead to goal achievement.
* A clear and thoughtful plan.
Great entrepreneurs know what they want to achieve and have a road map to follow. Every detail is outlined, and there is a precise checklist.
* Willingness to accept support.
Successful founders have support from family, investors, vendors, employees and customers. They nurture critical relationships with those willing to provide assistance.
Do you possess each of these points? If so, there is a very high chance that you, too, may be the next great innovator with a high-flying business.
As to our reader's question -- can everybody become an entrepreneur? -- no, not everyone is suited for the life of an entrepreneur. However, every business and every employee can benefit from increasing their entrepreneurial skills.
More and more, entrepreneurial companies are becoming the lifeblood of our global economy and are becoming a progressively greater source of new jobs.
Wherever you fit best in this growing and evolving equation, I look forward to helping you to prepare, and I wish you the best in your exhilarating journey.
This article originally appeared in Hall's weekly Forbes column. Do you have stories to tell? Questions? Contact him through this column at www.AlanEHall.com or via @AskAlanEHall.