4 Character Traits Successful People Share

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS
November 14, 2019

Success can be defined in many ways. Sometimes it is apparent and on a large scale, such as being awarded a gold medal in the Olympics or winning the Nobel Prize. It can be an actor or actress receiving an Oscar or a scientist finding the cure for a disease.  It can be a published author or it can be a professional football player. Success can also be less apparent and on a smaller scale, such as being a good person, being a good parent, or being a good partner. These types of successes are not as objective and a bit harder to measure, but are successes just the same. 


One thing that all successes have in common is the people earning them.  There are several characteristics and personality traits that successful people seem to have. These character traits propel a person towards success, whether it is in academics, occupations, intellectual pursuits, athletics, or relationships. 

4 Character Traits that Successful People Share Include:

  1. Ambition- Successful individuals are ambitious and goal directed.  They establish specific and measurable goals and set their sights towards achieving them. Successful people are not afraid to set their goals high and to push themselves as far as necessary until their goals are achieved. Once they achieve a goal, their ambition usually prompts them to make another one shortly thereafter. Oprah Winfrey, actress and philanthropist, was an ambitious five year old who wrote a letter to her kindergarten teacher asking to skip to first grade and was actually granted her request. Oprah went on to complete first grade and then promptly skipped to third grade as well.
  2. Resilience- Most people do not have an easy, one way ticket straight towards success. Usually, they experience some detours, bumps, and bruises along the way.  Successful people are commonly very resilient when they face adversity, challenges, or failures. They are the people who dust themselves off and get right back up when they fall. They simply will not give up, even when factors suggest that they probably should. Kevin Hart, comedian and film star, showed great resilience on his way to stardom. He was rejected and turned away numerous times, but kept returning to the comedy clubs again and again.
  3. Open to Learning- Successful people usually do not profess to know everything. They are aware that there are others in their trades, fields, and businesses that are wiser and more experienced.  They remain humble, eager, and open to learn from whoever can help them achieve their goals. They are agreeable to returning to school, taking continuing education courses, researching, and reading. They are diligent in talking to others who can teach them something new and humbly accept their assistance. They use every single experience as an opportunity to grow. Former Dallas Cowboy, Emmitt Smith, utilized Chicago Bear great, Walter Payton, as a mentor and teacher on his road to stardom.
  4. Discipline- Successful people are hard working and show great discipline. They are the ones who continue to work late into the night instead of taking a break when everyone else does. They are the ones who keep their mental focus sharp instead of daydreaming and letting their minds wander. They never slack off and keep their eye on the prize. They are the athletes practicing the same plays over and over until they are perfected.  They are the actors who practice their lines again and again until they have them down. Both Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, and Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, dropped out of Harvard University to start their own business and to work on their own projects respectively.    

Successes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are big and some are barely noticeable. Some are subjective, while others are objective. Despite the nature and type of success, the people achieving them are always very much the same.

Tracy Smith, LPC, NCC, ACS

Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for the Community YMCA, Counseling & Social Services branch. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in many settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy works with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the adolescents. Tracy  facilitates groups using art therapy, sand play and psychodrama.

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