5 personality traits that can make or break your success

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

Success is such a subjective word. 

For many people, it means making it big in their careers. For others, it means raising a family and building a happy home. 

Success has become so invariably defined over the years, and each person has their own definition of success. 

But one thing is for sure—no matter what success means for you, it’s something you have to work hard at. 

You won’t become successful by going along with the current and letting external forces determine your direction. 

Talent isn’t the be-all and end-all of success. Even the most talented people can only achieve their goals if they have what it takes to be productive and motivated. 

Some of the world’s most successful people didn’t bank on their talent to be successful. 

For example, when you think of J.K. Rowling, Oprah Winfrey, or Steve Jobs, you think of extraordinary talent, and you would be right. 

But that’s not all they had. 

In fact, these billionaires worked their way up from difficult circumstances and pushed through setback after setback before they finally achieved success.

So, what’s the secret? What traits should you possess to achieve your goals and be the best you can be at what you do? 

In this article, I’ll share five key personality traits that can make or break your success. 

1) Emotional intelligence

The road to success isn’t easy; it’s paved with challenges and disappointments to endure. 

That’s why you need to be emotionally intelligent to be successful. It takes tremendous maturity to handle failure and see it as an opportunity for learning instead. 

Emotional intelligence involves recognizing and managing your emotions and those of others. 

Research on emotional intelligence shows that it plays a role in better academic performance and more pro-social behavior. 

Cultivating emotional intelligence begins with developing self-awareness. When you can recognize and identify your own strengths and weaknesses, you can improve your performance. 

This also leads to better interactions and stronger relationships with others. 

People who are high in emotional intelligence can navigate social situations effortlessly and handle stress and challenges in a healthy way. This makes them effective in leadership roles. 

2) Having a growth mindset

A growth mindset is a belief that you can develop your intelligence and abilities through effort, learning, and experience. 

This attitude can lead to a more successful life because it encourages people to see challenges and problems as opportunities for growth and learning rather than threats to their intelligence or worth.

People with a growth mindset can embrace challenges and persevere in the face of setbacks more quickly because they believe that their abilities can improve with effort. 

They are also more open to feedback and willing to seek new learning opportunities, which can help them grow and develop their skills. 

In fact, they appreciate constructive criticism and take notes of the areas where they can improve.

That’s why the growth mindset is linked to more productive management styles. 

On the other hand, those with a fixed mindset believe that their basic qualities, like intelligence and abilities, are fixed and cannot be changed. They also think that talent alone is enough to be successful. 

They may be more likely to give up in the face of challenges or setbacks since they think their abilities are fixed, and there’s no room for improvement.

Here are two examples to show you the differences in the thought processes of people with a growth mindset and a fixed mindset: 

Fixed mindset: “I’m terrible at math, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Growth mindset: “Math is difficult for me, but with the right training, I can improve.” 

Fixed mindset: “How dare he correct my grammar? Everyone knows I’m a great writer!”

Growth mindset: “I appreciate your feedback on my writing. There’s always room for improvement.” 

As you can see, individuals with a growth mindset also have humility. This enables them to keep an open mind and understand that getting feedback is crucial to developing their skills.   

3) Adaptability

Remember what Charles Darwin said about survival? According to Darwin, those who can adjust to their environment best are the most successful in surviving and reproducing. 

That statement holds true to this day. In life, the ability to adapt to new situations and environments remains an essential personality trait for success. 

According to a Johns Hopkins University study, the most resilient and adaptable work teams succeed more often than those that are rigid and unwilling to change. This is true even if the latter group may be more talented. 

Adaptable people are flexible and resilient and may be better able to navigate change and adversity.

You won’t get very far if you don’t expand your capacity to handle change. 

The recent pandemic is one example of a situation where people had to adapt or fall by the wayside. 

When the pandemic hit and businesses closed, many lost their jobs. It was a time of despair and depression, and understandably so. 

But those who picked themselves up from the couch and thought of ways to adapt were able to survive. 

My friend Charlotte was one of those. Before the pandemic, she was a preschool teacher. But once lockdown started and the school laid off staff, she found herself without a job. 

Not one to take life sitting down, she started looking for alternative jobs she could do from her apartment. 

Today, she has a thriving career as a freelance writer with many clients. In fact, she now earns more than she ever had as a teacher, all while working in her pajamas. 

Charlotte’s story also shows how creativity goes hand in hand with adaptability. Creative thinking refers to considering alternatives and coming up with a unique approach or solution to a problem. 

To get to where you want to be, you must be flexible, creative, and ready to adjust your behavior to different environments and challenges. 

4) Relentlessness and conscientiousness

A crucial element of success is the ability to persevere and keep working towards a goal despite setbacks and challenges. 

Being relentless also means having faith that you’ll eventually succeed. This belief is a driving force, a steady motivation to continue. After all, if you don’t believe you’ll succeed, you’ll quit trying more readily. 

This drive is what separates winners from losers. 

Along with this drive comes the trait of conscientiousness. Successful people know it’s not enough to be persevering; their work must also be high quality. 

They are well-organized, prepared, and willing to make the painstaking effort required to put out quality work.  

Kobe Bryant was a fine example of perseverance and conscientiousness in the face of challenges. 

Every morning, he would wake up earlier than any other player and practice at the gym or the court. 

And when he struggled with injuries and public criticism, he faced them head-on and continued working toward his goals. 

He was oozing natural talent, but he didn’t consider that enough for success. He knew he had to devote the time and effort to grow as a player and as a person. 

It’s no wonder that he eventually became one of the most iconic figures in basketball. 

5) Confidence

Having confidence in one’s own abilities and judgment is another important factor for success. 

Successful people take on new challenges and responsibilities readily, trusting in their ability to resolve any issues that may arise. 

Here’s the truth about success—you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t take risks. Playing it safe won’t get you to the top of the game, so to speak. 

If all you do is what’s expected of you and try to fit in with the people around you, you’ll stay unnoticed and uninspired. 

To stand out from the rest, you must be willing to do something new and unexpected and take risks.  

The thing is, taking risks can only happen if you have a deep well of confidence. 

The field of psychology is full of studies examining the relationship between success and self-confidence. 

And there’s no doubt about it—self-confidence affects performance. 

However, while it’s essential to maintain a healthy level of confidence, you also need to be careful that it doesn’t turn into overconfidence or arrogance. 

Overconfidence may lead to the development of a fixed mindset; as I’ve mentioned earlier, a fixed mindset will get in the way of success.  

How to achieve your goals

Ready to start working towards your dream? Check out these quick tips to get you going: 

  1. Be committed.
  2. Learn from the journey.
  3. Maintain a positive outlook.
  4. Do an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Take away distractions and focus on your goal.

Final thoughts

While this list is definitely not exhaustive, it’s a great starting point for figuring out which traits you need to develop to achieve success. 

Remember that success isn’t a matter of luck or talent. On the contrary, it’s built on consistency, discipline, and the willingness to try new things. 

As long as you’re proactive and determined to put in the work, there’s no reason why you can’t achieve greatness wherever you are. 

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