10 Characteristics of Wildly Successful People

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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