The 10 Defining Traits of Highly Successful People

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Success comes in many forms. People like Warren Buffett are great at investing, Bill Gates is known for building a successful software company called Microsoft, Steve Jobs is famous for his Apple products, Gandhi was successful in leading India to independence, and Lionel Messi is successful in his football career.

It is true that no matter what industry you look at, there will be a group of extremely successful people doing really well.

What is more interesting to note is that although these people are successful in their respective industries and careers, they shared some very similar traits.

After reading so many books, I dare say that successful people shared a common trait. They don’t become successful out of the blue.

Success doesn’t happen by chance. It is because these extraordinary individuals possessed certain traits that led them to live and create a life of inspiration and success.

In other words, both you and I, or anybody can be successful, if we adopt and develop the same success traits.

What you need to do is to model these traits so that you will stand a higher chance to produce the successful results you have been looking for.

So, what are the traits of successful people? Below are the 10 most common ones shared by most successful people…

1. They Have a Burning Desire for Success

“The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.”

Napoleon Hill

Yes, this is an extremely clear and common trait of all. Successful people have a strong desire for success.

You see, success doesn’t happen automatically. It is not like you wake up tomorrow and you will have a million dollars in the bank.

No, success happens through a series of events. And it is because successful people have a strong burning desire to build something extraordinary in their lives, that they continue to seek something greater.

They dare to let go of the good to go for the great. They dare to venture into the unknown because they are looking for something better, not just ordinary.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a successful bodybuilder, Hollywood actor, and also politician. This is what he said:

What is the point of being on this earth if you are going to be like everyone else?

“What is the point of being on this earth if you are going to be like everyone else?”

Yes, why do you exist if you just want to live an ordinary life like everyone else? While there is nothing wrong with living an ordinary life, there is also nothing exciting about it.

How can you tell if you can achieve something extraordinary and touch millions of lives? How do you know if you are living your full potential right now? You can’t until you do.

This is what leads highly successful people to live their best life. They know that something better is waiting for them and they know that they are not meant to live an ordinary life.

They want to live great. They want to be extraordinary. And it all starts with their desire.

What about you? Do you have a strong and burning desire for success?

Read: 5 Powerful Methods How to Boost Your Desire for Success

2. They Are Highly Committed and Disciplined

“Discipline and commitment are doing what needs to be done, even if you don’t want to do it.”

There is no point to have a dream or a goal but are not committed to it. You see, we all want to live a better life. We all desire to achieve our goals and live our dream.

However, most people are not committed to their dreams and goals. In other words, they lack the self-discipline to take the necessary action.

Successful people are different, they are 100% committed and they are willing to do whatever it takes to reach their goals and make their dreams a reality.

After he won several titles in the bodybuilding industry, Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to venture into the filming industry. He wanted to become a successful actor.

But, people told him that his body was too bulky, he has an accent, and that his name was too long and difficult to pronounce. People just told him that it was impossible to make it in the acting career. But he did.

Arnold is 100% committed. He worked day and night. He took English classes to learn to speak, and he learned how to act and practiced acting in front of the mirror. And the rest became history.

Read: Arnold Schwarzenegger and His 6 Rules of Success

The same goes for Lionel Messi. He was a great football player from a very young age, but he suffered an uncommon case of growth hormone deficiency, which made him shorter than almost every other player on the field.

But that did not stop him from excelling and succeeding in his football career. He trained day and night, and in one of his commercials, he said…


“I start early, and I stay late, day after day, year after year. It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.”

So, are you truly committed to the success you want?

Do you have the discipline to do the work even when you don’t feel like it? If you don’t, develop this trait of success right now.

Read: 7 Easy Ways How to Increase Your Commitment to Success

3. They Believe in Themselves and Their Dreams

“The first step is you have to say that you can.”

Will Smith

Let’s face it, people fail not because they lack the ability, but because they don’t believe in themselves and their dreams.

No matter what you want to achieve, be it a financial success or building a successful business, you must first believe that you can do it before you can make it all work.

Everything happens twice, once in your mind, and once in reality.

Thus, if you don’t believe in yourself or that you can do it, you have already failed. The key is to trust that you can do it. You have to believe in yourself and your dreams.

Think about it, if you don’t believe in something, do you think you will do it with your whole heart? No, not likely.

This is why most people are not committed to their dreams. They don’t believe they can do it, and that is why they are not willing to play it all out.

On the other hand, successful people believe that they can do it. They trust that somehow things will happen, and they will make it.

Therefore, they are ready to go all out. They are willing to put in all they have to win the game because they believe they will win.

If you don’t believe in yourself, who else would?

And if you don’t believe in your dreams or your goals, you will never do it with 100% commitment. When things become tough, you will quit and give up.

The journey to success is difficult and that is why so few are successful. People will mock you, laugh at you, and make fun of you. You will make mistakes and you will fail.

It is not easy, and this is why you must have faith and believe in yourself. If you don’t success will never be yours.

Read: How to Believe in Yourself to Achieve Your Goals and Dreams

4. They Are Passionate and Love What They Do

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Steve Jobs

This is a common trait of success. I bet you have heard about this at least a gazillion times. Well, I’m here to tell you one more time that if you want to achieve great success in life, you must be passionate and love what you do.

Why? I’ll just let one of the most visionary leaders explains it to you:

Basically, here’s what Jobs said in the short video above: “You have to have a lot of passion for what you are doing because it is so hard… If you don’t, any rational person would give up.”

Plus, you will have to do it for a sustained period of time. And if you don’t have a passion for it, you will quit.

People who don’t love what they do will give up when things become tough or after they discover some other goals, projects, business, or any other “more” interesting opportunity.

If you look at all the successful people out there, whether they are singers, business people, entrepreneurs, athletes, etc., they are still doing it even after they are successful.

Lionel Messi is extremely successful in football, but he still plays football. Elon Musk is a billionaire, but he still chooses to work for his vision. Richard Branson has built hundreds of businesses around the world, and today, he still chooses to do it.

My point is that these people are not doing it for money, fame, or power. They are doing it for their vision and their passion.

It is true that money, power, and fame are good, but they are not the sole reasons why extraordinary people do it. They do it because they love what they do.

And because they love doing it, that is why they are successful. What about you? Do you love what you do?

Read: 7 Clear Signs That You Have Discovered Your Passion in Life

5. They Dare to Take Calculated Risk

“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”

Jim Rohn

Success is not meant for the faint-hearted. Success requires you to take some form of risk. As Jim Rohn said, if you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.

You can’t get to point B if you keep staying at point A. If you want to get to higher ground, you must first have the courage and be willing to let go of being where you are right now.

And that, my friend, requires you to take some form of risk.

Hence, if you are not willing to venture out of your comfort zone, you will never be able to get to the new ground. You will get to improve yourself and make a change.

Most people are too afraid to take risks because they are afraid of uncertainty. But if you are not willing to change, you will be where you are.

You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.

I love what T.S. Eliot said about taking risks:

ts eliot risk quote

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

When Elon Musk started Tesla and SpaceX, he was already a multi-millionaire. He sold Zip2 to Compaq for $340 million in 1999 and then founded, which merged with PayPal and then sold to eBay for $1.5 billion.

The thing is that he has a built-in success trait of taking a calculated risk. This is why he is willing to put everything and start Tesla and SpaceX. He isn’t afraid to fail.

Now, I’m not saying you should risk everything blindly. I’m saying that you should take CALCULATED risks.

Think about it, if you drive an F1 at 300km/h, it can be dangerous. It is a huge risk to do so, right?

But what if Michael Schumacher is the one who’s driving it? It will be a different story. It can still be dangerous, but Schumacher is a well-trained professional F1 driver, and the risk involved will be greatly reduced.

And that is what I mean when I say you should take calculated risks, not just any risks.

So, do your research, do your homework, and prepare yourself. When the opportunity comes, take the calculated risk and make a leap of faith.

6. They Understand Their Priority and Focus

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”

Bruce Lee

Another important trait of successful people is that they understand their priorities and where to focus their energy.

Most people want to be successful, but they are not doing what is getting them the result they want.

For example, you can’t just say that you want to build a successful blog and then watch TV every night. You need to align your focus and put your priority right.

Sadly, most people don’t get it. They just daydream about what they want and they never do anything about it.

Extraordinary people, on the other hand, understand the principle of prioritization and focus.

They know what they want, and they focus their energy in the right direction. They don’t just say that they want to build a successful blog, they work for it.

Every day and night, you don’t see them watching TV or playing games, they build their blogs. They write articles, they plan, and they talk and think about their blogs every day.

So, ask yourself, do you have this characteristic for success? Do you focus your time, effort, and energy in the right place? If you don’t, you need to develop this characteristic right now.

Read: How to Develop Self-Determination and Stick to Your Goals

We all have 24 hours a day, some waste their time doing something irrelevant, while some make full use of their time to build the life that they want to live.

Bruce Lee, the famous martial artist once said:


“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”

This is why you must learn to master prioritization and put your focus in the right direction. You don’t want to waste time because if you do, you are wasting your life.

Read: 10 Amazing Ways How to Improve Your Focus

7. They Are Absolutely Optimistic

“You can’t litter negativity everywhere and then wonder why you’ve got a trashy life.”

I once heard Jack Ma, one of the richest men in China and the founder of Alibaba say that after he gets to know other great people like Bill Gates and Larry Ellison, he discovered that they all shared a common trait – being optimistic.

Yes, successful people are optimistic. They are positive about what they do, and they are positive about their lives.

They believe that somehow things will turn out to be better. And this is why they started their business in the first place.

Think about it, if you believe that the economy is slow or that the market is going to crash soon, are you going to still start your business or invest in stocks? Mostly not, right?

This is why being optimistic is important. Now, I’m not saying that positive thinking is everything, but it is a great motivator and a good starting point.

When you are positive that you are going to be successful, you will take more action than most people, which will bring you more results.

And when you produce better results, you become confident. Which encourages you to take even more action. It will put you into the upward cycle, like what Tony Robbins said:

“People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

So, be optimistic. Believe that things are going to turn out well.

  • You can’t become successful if you keep focusing on the negative things.
  • You can’t build a business if all you think about is you’re going to fail.
  • You can’t become rich if you have a poor mindset.

Thus, focus and think about the rewards, your goals, your dreams, and the success you desire. Stop focusing on the mistakes, failures, and negative things that are NOT guaranteed to happen.

Want to think positive? Read this article from

8. They Are Good Networkers

“Your network is your net worth.”

Chances are, we can’t achieve great success by ourselves. We need help and support from others. There is no such thing as a self-made millionaire, really.

You can’t be successful without your team, your partner, your friends, your family, your customers, your clients, your parents, etc.

We are not living in this world alone. We need help from others. Successful people don’t do it all by themselves. They hire great talents to help them.

They know that if they want to make it big, they need to leverage other people’s time, energy, talent, and money.

This is why they build teams. They make friends with other successful people. They build an organization to help them achieve their vision.

One more thing, don’t just network and make friends with anybody, you need to network with the right people.

And one of the obvious traits of successful people is they make friends with other positive and successful people.

I know you have heard this quote from Jim Rohn:

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Who you spend the most time with will influence your thinking, and ultimately change your life.

Therefore, spend time with positive people who will support and encourage you to achieve your goals and dreams. And spend less time with people who are negative, who blame others, and who always make lousy excuses.

Make this your trait and success will be yours.

Read: How to Surround Yourself with Positive People

9. They Are Action Takers

“The path to success is to take massive, determined actions.”

Tony Robbins

Another common trait of successful people is that they are action takers. They seem to be oriented toward actions.

Successful people are proactive. They take action and they don’t wait for things to happen. They have goals, they make plans, and they take action to move their plans.

On the contrary, unsuccessful people are reactive. They don’t have a goal, they don’t know what they want, and they don’t have any plan. As a result, they fall into someone else’s plans. They do what comes to them rather than go out and make things happen.

This is one of the most important keys to success – take massive and determined actions.

Don’t just say or think about what you want, you need to take action and make it happen. You can’t just sit there and wait for things to come to you. You must act.

Unfortunately, most people just dream about what they want and never do anything about it.

They say that they want to build a successful e-commerce business, yet, they continue to watch YouTube and play mobile games. They don’t do anything about their dreams.

Never let this happen to you.

If you want to achieve success, this is the trait you must develop. Please understand this:

You get what you work for, not what you wish for.

“You get what you work for, not what you wish for.”

It doesn’t matter how good your ideas are or how talented you are, if you are not willing to put in the necessary actions, nothing is going to happen.

Ideas are good. But ideas without execution are worthless. The same goes for knowledge. Knowledge is just a form of potential power. True power is when you apply your knowledge. That’s when things will change. And that’s when you will become successful.

Until you are willing to work for it, things will never come to you. You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.

So, make it your habit to work hard, and succeed on purpose.

Read: Why Hard Work is Important to Achieve Success in Life

10. They Make Mistakes, But They Don’t Quit

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”

Albert Einstein

If you think that successful people will never make mistakes or that they have never failed before, you’re wrong.

Successful people make mistakes and they fail too, but they just don’t quit.

One of the most important traits of success is the ability to learn from feedback and bounce back from failures.

Successful people don’t look at mistakes as they are. They treat mistakes and failures as important lessons to learn and grow.

Read: 3 Fundamental Principles How to Turn Failure Into Success

When they make mistakes and fail, they don’t quit. They learn the lessons, turn failures into experience, and grow to become someone better.

Here’s a picture that tells everything:

level up yourself

It is not about the problems, mistakes, or failures you are going to face, it is about the size of you. It is about your resilience and how good you are.

If you ever played games before, then you will know. When you are at level 3 and have to fight an enemy at level 5, it will be a tough fight. But once you improve your skills and grow to level 9, the same level 5 enemy will become an easy fight.

Do you get that? It is not about the size of your problem, it is about the size of you.

Therefore, don’t be afraid of making mistakes or failing. You learn more from your mistakes and failures. Don’t let them stop you. Mistakes and failures build your traits to success.

Do you know why Michael Jordan is the best basketball player? This is what he said…

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Read: 10 Great Ways How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

Develop These 10 Traits of Successful People Now

By now, you should have a clear idea of the qualities of successful people. You should know what your own traits are, what you should let go of, and what traits you should build and develop.

What you can do is focus on building the productive qualities of success, starting from the 10 above. You just need to build one trait at a time.

More importantly, bookmark this article so that you can come back again in the future. Write down these top 10 traits and reflect on them from time to time.

Review and reflect on your life and your traits, and think about how you can relate them to your life.

Build and live your life around these success traits. Months later, come back to this article and notice if you have made any improvement.

So, pick just one success trait, focus on it, develop it, and fuse it with you.

And if you like this article, do remember to share it with others. Do you think I have covered most of the important characteristics?

This article may contain affiliate links. Meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. As always, I only recommend products and services I trust.

Hi there, this is Shawn. I inspire people to achieve their goals and dreams and to reach for higher success in life. If you want to learn more about me, kindly go to the About page. By the way, have you downloaded your FREE copy of The 90-90-1 Rule? Don't forget to do so. Cheers. :)

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