10 Characteristics of Wildly Successful People

Some people — Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey jump to mind — seem born for success. But don’t think the same can’t be said about you.

While we can’t all have our faces on the $100 bill, lead a corporate empire or become a television icon, we certainly can find our own success.

That may not mean earning millions — in fact, money may not even be the primary goal for you. But it can mean having a satisfying career, a fulfilling family life and enough wealth to see you through a rich and rewarding retirement.

How do you become successful? It’s simple: Follow the lead of others who already have achieved their goals. Most successful people share common traits, and those traits are not that hard to duplicate in our own lives.

Following are 10 traits successful people have in common. Such people are:

1. Goal-oriented

Oleksiy Rezin / Shutterstock.com
Oleksiy Rezin / Shutterstock.com

You can spend life meandering about, waiting for a job to fall into your lap or for that golden opportunity to arrive gift-wrapped at your front door. But you’ll wait a long time, my friend.

Successful people don’t wait for life to happen to them. They have a plan for how they want life to pan out. Then, they set goals for how to make that plan a reality.

We like this quote attributed to industrialist Henry Ford, who founded Ford Motor Co.:

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.”

It’s a reminder that breaking down big goals into bite-size pieces can pave the way for success.

2. Persistent

AlohaHawaii / Shutterstock.com
AlohaHawaii / Shutterstock.com

Thomas Edison reportedly failed 1,000 times before inventing the light bulb.

Whether that figure is inflated is irrelevant. The point is clear: People who are successful fail, fail and fail again before they succeed.

Abraham Lincoln endured a string of political failures prior to reaching the presidency. Stephen King was rejected by publishers time after time before he became a best-selling novelist.

Successful people don’t pack up their toys and head home the first time something doesn’t go their way. Instead, they keep plugging along, and that persistence helps them find success eventually.

3. Inquisitive

rSnapshotPhotos / Shutterstock.com
rSnapshotPhotos / Shutterstock.com

For successful people, learning isn’t over when formal education ends. Most understand they don’t possess all the secrets to the universe. So, they strive to become lifelong learners.

Albert Einstein reportedly said, “It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”

Assuming Einstein actually did say that, he might have been a little too modest about his intellectual abilities. However, he makes a good point about success.

Although some wildly successful people are natural brainiacs, most possess the same gray matter as the rest of us. They simply recognize there is more to learn, and understanding that gives them the tools and resources needed to reach their goals.

4. Self-aware

Suzanne Tucker / Shutterstock.com
Suzanne Tucker / Shutterstock.com

Along those same lines, let’s take a moment to hear from the philosopher Socrates, who said, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing and that is that I know nothing.”

Socrates may have been speaking on the importance of continual learning, but he also offers a reminder on the importance of self-awareness.

The people who find success are the ones who know who they are. They know their abilities and limitations. As a result, they focus on where they excel, and they leave other jobs to people with different talents.

5. Risk-takers

Mauricio Graiki / Shutterstock.com
Mauricio Graiki / Shutterstock.com

No guts, no glory, right? Some of the world’s biggest successes have come from taking risks.

When the iPhone was introduced, it was a significant risk for Apple. When Oprah Winfrey dumped her successful syndicated talk show in favor of starting a cable network, it was a risk. Entrepreneur Richard Branson, who co-founded Virgin Group, has made risk-taking his ticket to success even though he had at least 14 failed businesses along the way.

However, these risk-takers aren’t making dumb moves. The risks they take are calculated. When they fail, successful people take the time to learn from their mistakes.

6. Quick-thinking and decisive

Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock.com
Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock.com

Slow and steady may have won the race for the turtle, but it’s not a particularly good strategy when it comes to human success.

Being decisive is important, both inside and outside the business world. If you stall for years while trying to decide whether to move your family, change careers or go back to school, you lose precious time that could have been used to build up your success.

Instead, make your decisions promptly and move forward without looking back.

7. Good communicators

Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

Successful people are also good communicators.

From Frederick Douglass speaking out against slavery to the latest budding politician trying to get your vote, successful people articulate their ideas clearly.

If you’re worried that you’re not an effective communicator, take heart. Even billionaire investor Warren Buffett was at one time terrified of public speaking until he practiced enough.

8. Enthusiastic

Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com
Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

Some people simply ooze enthusiasm. You spend a little time with them and find yourself as geeked out about their projects as they are.

Enthusiastic people create success because they’re passionate. They love what they’re doing, and we all naturally gravitate toward those who radiate excitement and self-confidence.

As a result, rather than working alone, an enthusiastic person garners a tribe of people working toward the same goal.

9. Self-disciplined

oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com
oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com

The most successful people among us are those who can keep themselves focused and on task, a truth illustrated by the well-publicized fact that many high-achievers rise each day long before the sun.

Accountability is part of their commitment to self-discipline. Successful people realize that at the end of the day, they alone are responsible for their accomplishments — or failures.

In other words, they have taken the philosopher Plato’s words to heart:

“The first and best victory is to conquer self.”

10. Hard-working

Dudarev Mikhail / Shutterstock.com
Dudarev Mikhail / Shutterstock.com

Perhaps the most important characteristic of successful people is that they work hard.

A couple of years ago, U.S. Trust, the private wealth management arm of Bank of America, released the results of a survey of individuals with investable assets of at least $3 million. It found that 77 percent of those wealthy individuals reported growing up in families that were middle-class or poorer.

That means most financially successfully people didn’t have money handed to them — instead, they likely worked hard for it.

If you aren’t willing to put in the hours and make some sacrifices, you might as well get accustomed to mediocrity. The best things in life — whether that’s money in the bank or a great relationship with your spouse or child — typically come only with significant effort.

What traits do you think have contributed to your success, or lack of it? Share your thoughts in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

How to Get the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance
How to Get the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance

This is the last article on understanding and shopping for car insurance that you’ll ever need.

9 Free Things That Used to Cost Us Money
9 Free Things That Used to Cost Us Money

Not everything is getting more expensive.

5 Cheap and Easy Ways to Make Your Car Smell Delightful
5 Cheap and Easy Ways to Make Your Car Smell Delightful

These tips will leave your ride smelling delightful for next to nothing. Some options are also chemical-free.

The 5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
The 5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach
10 Things You Should Never Do With Bleach

Does the pandemic have you reaching for bleach more than ever before? Learn the ins and outs of using this powerful disinfectant.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.