10 Characteristics of Successful People

Updated on April 15, 2020
gerimcclym profile image

Geri McClymont believes that to move forward, we must be intentional about the decisions we make each day and learn from our mistakes.

Successful people share specific characteristics.
Successful people share specific characteristics. | Source

I’ve spent a lot of my life observing people.

When I was younger, I loved people watching at airports. The way people carried themselves, how they were dressed, and their facial expressions and body language left so much to the imagination. I couldn’t help but wonder about the lives behind the faces. What life experiences shaped them into who they became? Where were they going, and where were they coming from? These thoughts always fascinated me and still do when I’m in airports.

Today, I spend more time studying people in general. I read about entrepreneurs who have started from scratch and built their way to success, actors and actresses who have “made it big” despite limited formal education, and people who have beaten the odds by not allowing their backgrounds or current circumstances to define them. Even watching my friends, family members, and people in my work environment has been very enlightening.

As a result of my observations, I’ve learned to associate certain characteristics with success. I define “success” as living a fulfilling life you’re at peace with because it gives you a clear sense of purpose. Although it may not necessarily mean earning a high income, in many cases, it does have that end result.

10 Characteristics of a Successful Person

  1. They surround themself with like-minded people.
  2. They enjoy what they do.
  3. They get up early.
  4. They are confident in their abilities.
  5. They take care of themself.
  6. They are persistent.
  7. They are a risk-taker.
  8. They put others first.
  9. They have a plan of action.
  10. They live for something bigger than themself.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

— Albert Schweitzer
Successful people enjoy what they do.
Successful people enjoy what they do. | Source

1. They surround themselves with like-minded people.

Successful people are well aware that the people they choose to spend their time with have a great influence on who they become.

Successful people choose to spend time with people who are moving forward in their lives and who are determined to make the most of their talents and skills.

Being around these kinds of people encourages and energizes them to press on in their own lives and to make the most of their own gifts and abilities.

2. They enjoy what they do.

Successful people have a passion that is evident, and it propels them to excel at what they do. You meet these people, and you have a sense that they’re exactly where they’re supposed to be.

It may not be where they want to be ten or even five years from now, but it’s where they know they should be today in order to move on to where they want to be later.

Fulfilling their current role is part of their “life script,” and this gives their life meaning and purpose.

The secret to success is getting up early.

— My Dad
Successful people work hard and get up early.
Successful people work hard and get up early. | Source

3. They get up early.

When I was a teenager, I would hear my dad leave for work before I even got out of bed to get ready for school. On the weekends, he would wake me up and say, “The secret to success is getting up early.”

Successful people get up early. Many believe their most productive time of the day is early morning, and they're at their desks tackling their work before most people have stepped into their morning shower. They understand that getting up early gives them a head start on the day and an edge over their competitors.

This doesn't necessarily mean they work longer hours. They use their time wisely and take breaks when needed so they can continue to work refreshed and recharged.

4. They are confident in their abilities.

Successful people don’t let setbacks or others’ criticism get them down. They have an “I can do this” attitude that is appealing, not cocky.

You’re around these people, and you know they’re competent at what they do because their confidence breeds competence.

They succeed not because they think they can but because they know they can. In some cases, even an inflated sense of their worth and abilities actually works in their favor.

Successful people take care of themselves.
Successful people take care of themselves. | Source

5. They take care of themselves.

Successful people realize they can only offer their best when they take care of their bodies by eating healthy foods, getting sufficient rest, and exercising. As a result, they not only feel better but also look better, which in turn boosts their self-confidence.

They have a life outside of work, engaging in hobbies and activities they enjoy and spending time with people they like and who make them feel good about themselves.

6. They are persistent.

Successful people see problems as opportunities to find or create effective solutions. They don’t give up.

This is where being stubborn is an asset!

When they fall, they pick themselves up again and keep going. They know that if they keep at it, they’ll eventually get the results or outcome they want.

They refuse to have a victim mentality by recognizing that setbacks and hardships they experience can help them make smarter decisions in the future and steer them in the right direction.

Successful people aren't afraid to take risks.
Successful people aren't afraid to take risks. | Source

7. They are risk-takers.

Successful people understand that they can’t move forward without taking risks. They believe that if they shoot for the moon and miss, the worst that will happen is they’ll land among the stars.

They’re willing to shoot for the moon because they want to succeed!

They’ve learned to see what others might consider failures as stepping stones to success. They know that these experiences have taught them valuable lessons that will serve them well later.

8. They put others first.

Successful people listen and put themselves in the other person’s shoes. In return, others feel validated by them, which makes them want to keep working with them.

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about seeking to understand others before we are understood. He encourages employers to listen to their employees, stating that when they do so, they “inspire loyalty that goes well beyond the eight-to-five physical demands of the job.”

In many cases, successful people are very involved in charity work and have a strong desire to help the underprivileged.

9. They have a plan of action.

Successful people don’t just envision success. They have a concrete plan for getting to where they want to be.

They create specific goals for themselves and hold themselves accountable by measuring and evaluating their progress toward these goals regularly.

Successful people live for something bigger than themselves.
Successful people live for something bigger than themselves. | Source

10. They live for something bigger than themselves.

It may be a belief that they’re living to serve a higher power. It may be a strong belief in family values or love for their country or for their fellow man.

Successful people believe that their actions matter and that they can have a positive influence on the world and the lives of other people.

Living for something outside of themselves gives them a great sense of purpose and deep-rooted motivation to be the best they can be at whatever they do.

How do you define success?

See results

By observing the specific characteristics of successful people, we can follow their lead to help us achieve our own goals and dreams. Each step we take in adopting any of these characteristics is a step of success as well as a step toward success because each step we take draws us closer to where we want to be!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2015 Geri McClymont


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    • gerimcclym profile imageAUTHOR

      Geri McClymont 

      4 years ago

      MsDora, I agree that No. 11 is the hardest one to follow, and I too continue to work on that one. Thanks for stopping by.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      All great behavior patterns. I still have to work on No. 11, but I know the value of being consistent so I will continue to try. Thanks you so much for laying out these steps.


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