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The 6 Personality Characteristics of Success and Failure

It’s a well-known fact of life that some people become successful and some people do not. The question, therefore, is what makes one person be able to achieve success when another person tries but experiences failure instead?

The answer to this question can largely be found in the type of person that somebody is, or more specifically, their personality traits or personality characteristics.

This is because the type of personality that you have has a massive influence over the direction your life goes in, because essentially, your personality dictates the type of thoughts you have which then determine the type of action you do or do not take.

So if we break this down to the simplest level, it can be stated that your personality will either make it more likely for you to become a success, or less likely for you to become a success.

success ahead

Success is ahead, but only if you go down the right road.

In this sense, success can be viewed as a by-product of your personality. It is an end result of an accumulation of your most dominant thoughts and actions.

Personality Traits of Success & Failure

The biggest “secret” when it comes to what makes people successful, is that their success came not from being more talented, smarter or luckier than the average person, but rather, because of the habits that they developed throughout the course of their life.

The large majority of people for example, develop habits of failure as a direct result of their personality. Rather than working hard to achieve their own personal goals, they do what is required to earn a living and survive, and then spend the rest of their time enjoying and entertaining themselves.

The end result is that they remain in more or less the same situation throughout their whole life, because if you just do enough to “get by”, then that’s all you will ever do.

walking in circles

Developing habits of failure won’t get you anywhere in life.

Successful people on the other hand, have learned the personality characteristics of success and failure, which you too shall also learn, and then made sure that they spent the majority of their time and effort doing the things that will bring success into their life, and avoiding the things which won’t.

Although this sounds simple in principle, and it is, it does mean having to make sacrifices, and at times, feeling lonely as you work hard to build up a successful future for yourself.

boy holding carrot and cake

To achieve your goal, you must be willing to make the necessary sacrifice.

Unfortunately, this is something that most people are unwilling to do or experience, which is why there are so many more unsuccessful people than there are successful people.

So what are the personality characteristics that we have been talking about? Lets take a look now and find out!

1) We Are All Lazy

Given a choice, would you rather work hard all day or spend time having fun with friends and family? I think the answer is obvious! Given a choice, most people would prefer to do something easy and fun rather than something which is hard and necessary.

woman with feet on table

We are all driven by a desire to maximize our leisure time.

This is an extremely important personality characteristic to recognize, because given a choice, people will generally choose the easiest and quickest way to do something in order to maximize their leisure time.

Unfortunately, most of the things that are quick, fun and easy, very rarely bring long-term success into your life. Yet, it is these very same things which we are all hard-wired to do.

A good example of how prevalent this tendency is can probably be found in your workplace. The large majority of your co-workers, for example, most likely can’t wait to finish work, go home, have something to eat and then spend the rest of the day enjoying themselves in front of the TV or computer.

man watching tv with cat

Doing this will not make you successful, yet it’s how most people spend the majority of their free time.

Successful people on the other hand, have learned to fight back against the natural urge to do what is fun and easy. They have learned that whilst having fun today may be enjoyable, in the long run, it can result in them having less fun and enjoyment later on.

Let’s use another example to demonstrate this important point:

Student A wants to have fun and party, and so he doesn’t bother studying much at school. At the end of the school year, he’s had a blast, but his grades absolutely suck and so do his future job prospects.

Student B wants to have fun and party too, but he also wants to get good grades so that he can get into medical school after graduation. So he spends most, but not all, of his time working and making sure that he learns well.

At the end of a long and hard school year, he feels a sense of satisfaction when he looks at his exam results and sees that he got top grades.

man reading books

You may not always like what you have to do, but sometimes that’s just the price you must pay for achieving your goals.

Everyone knows a student A and a student B, but you probably know many more student A’s than you do student B’s. This is because we are all lazy, and the vast majority of us like to stay that way because it’s the easiest and most comfortable thing to do.

Is it any wonder why there seems to be so many more unsuccessful people than there are successful people?

It should be noted, however, that being lazy isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. In fact, much of human progress, whether it be scientific or technological, has come as a result of a desire to get things done easier and quicker.

The automobile, for example, was designed with the intention of getting people to where they wanted to go faster and without having to expend energy by walking. Today, much of modern-day society exists as a result of the freedom that motor vehicles provide us with.

model t ford car

Being lazy isn’t always a bad thing, as much of human progress has come from finding more efficient ways to do things.

So whilst laziness can result in failure, it can also be a powerful motivation for success. Laziness in itself is not the problem, the amount of laziness is!

Action step

Overcome the urge to do what is fun, quick and easy all of the time. Instead, do the things which are necessary, even if they are hard and will take a long time to complete.

2) We Are All Greedy

Would you like $100 or $1000? One car or two? Given a choice, people naturally desire to have more than they currently have, and as a result, are never completely satisfied with what they do have.

money greedy

Very rarely are we satisfied with what we’ve got, as a result, we are always wanting more.

The greed characteristic can quickly bring failure into your life, and is one of the primary reasons why so many people are unable to save their money and are always getting themselves into debt. As a result, it’s not surprising to learn that greed now drives our consumerist society.

Think about it. In the past, people used to be happy if they had something that worked and did what they needed it to do. Today, however, functionality has become less of an issue, as now, people are more concerned with the image of a particular product and how they think that others will view them for owning it.

This has resulted in an endless variation of goods and brands that have been designed to target different consumer tastes and preferences.

The trouble is, these tastes and preferences are changing all the time, so unless you can control the greed characteristic, you are going to spend a lot of money trying to satisfy your needs.

material possessions

Many of our needs are fulfilled through material goods, the satisfaction of these needs can therefore prove to be very expensive.

What separates those who are successful from those who are not successful is not due to one being greedier than the other, but rather, due to how greed is responded to.

Unsuccessful people for example, tend to satisfy their needs immediately. In other words, if they see something they want they will try to get it as soon as possible, even if doing so has an undesireable consequence such as debt.

Successful people on the other hand, respond to greed using a long-term time perspective. This means that they think about what they want, and then use the motivational energy that greed provides them with to work hard in order to get it.

woman dreaming about future

Successful people use a vision of their future self to spur themselves forward through times of adversity.

What you will also find, is that the things which you have to wait to get are often much more valuable and beneficial to your life than the things which you can get immediately.

This means that if you are always satisfying your immediate needs, for example, watching TV instead of working, then in the long run, you probably aren’t going to experience much success in life.

So the important point to remember is that greed in itself is not necessarily a bad thing, as the desire to have more is what makes society progress and get better as a whole. What determines whether greed is ultimately beneficial or not, is what you do with it and when you do it.

Action step

Rather than using greed for the satisfaction of your short-term needs, use the energy it gives you to help you work towards the attainment of the things that really matter. These are the things that will bring you success rather than failure.

3) We Are All Ambitious

Everything we do is motivated by a desire to improve our quality of life. This can range from small short-term improvements, such as improving your mood by eating food, to larger long-term improvements, such as starting a business and becoming financially independent.

reaching towards sky

We all reach for something in life, but some choose to reach for more than others.

Ambition, therefore, is generally a good thing, as without being ambitious a person would never grow and develop in their life as they would always be doing the same things in the same place.

Unfortunately, however, most people in today’s society are ambitious for the wrong things. This is reflected by a focus on short-term improvements to one’s life, things that don’t really matter in the long run.

For example, a person may become interested in a particular celebrity, a television show or a sports team and then proudly boast to their friends how much they know about their interest.

Whilst this may make them feel good in the short-term, in the long run, becoming an expert on a celebrity, a TV show or a sports team isn’t going to make you successful unless you are using that knowledge to pursue a particular career.

English soccer fan

This English soccer fan probably knows a lot about his team, but it’s unlikely to help him achieve much success in life.

To make matters worse, society tends to promote a short-term mindset by providing people with quick fixes and things that bring instant gratification.

As a result, much of society has been conditioned to expect immediate results with the minimum amount of effort on their behalf. Unsurprising, this type of mentality is virtually guaranteed to bring failure into one’s life.

Successful people separate themselves from unsuccessful people by being ambitious for things in their long-term future, which, as we have already mentioned, are also usually the things that will bring them the most benefit.

man in business suit

Real success comes from focusing on long-term goals, and then doing whatever it takes to accomplish them.

So whereas an unsuccessful person may concern themselves with who a particular celebrity is dating, or how many home runs their favorite sports star has had this season, successful people tend to focus their effort and energy on learning what they need to learn to help them achieve their goals.

Action step

The type of things that you are ambitious for will largely determine the type of success that you achieve in life, and the greater your ambitions are, the more of that success you are likely to achieve.

So think about your main interests and ask yourself whether or not those things really matter in your life? Will they help you to achieve your goals and dreams? Or are they just leading you down a road towards long-term failure?

4) We Are All Selfish

We all act primarily from our own point of view. So the things we do are done for the benefit of ourselves and not necessarily for other people. Even the act of charity is a selfish act.

If you decide to help someone, for example, it’s usually because you feel some kind of emotion for them. Once you have given them help, you now feel better about yourself.

Therefore, almost all the actions that you carry out are influenced by the feelings or emotions which you experience and driven by your desire to change them.

women hugging

Our actions are motivated by a drive to change our emotional state.

The significance of this is that due to our natural human tendency to maintain a pleasurable state, or to move away from an unpleasureable state, the selfish desire can cause a person to immediately want to change how they are feeling. This is done by doing something which is perceived as being more pleasurable than the current activity.

People who fail in life tend to do so because they give into this desire immediately, rather than doing the necessary things first and then satisfying their desire later. For example, a person doesn’t feel like working, so they go and watch TV instead because they know that it will bring them immediate gratification.

As you might imagine, a person who lives their life by this principle is unlikely to ever get very far in life, because as you already know, most of the things that are worth doing require lots of time and effort on your behalf.

So in order to achieve worthwhile aims and objectives, you must be willing to put up with a certain amount of discomfort. For it is from that discomfort that you will be motivated to work towards the attainment of something much greater than you currently have.

man on bed of nails

Sometimes you have to experience a little pain to get what you want out of life.

This is what successful people do. They are able to put aside their selfish desire to immediately change their emotional state by resisting meaningless activities and distractions. The degree to which you are able to do this will largely determine the success or failure that you experience.

Action step

We are all driven by a desire to change our emotional state of mind. This can cause us to shift our focus from important issues of significance to distractions of no significance.

So if you don’t feel like doing something, then that’s usually a good indication that you should do it because do so will bring the most benefit into your life. The more you can train yourself to do such things, the more successes you are likely to achieve.

5) We Are All Ignorant

Not even Einstein knew everything about the subjects he studied, so why do we often assume that we are experts on something? No matter how much you learn, there is always more that you can learn. In this sense, we are all ignorant and carry out our actions based on incomplete information.

Recognizing this personality characteristic can encourage you to become a life long learner, and avoid making the mistake of thinking that education stops once you finish your final exams at school.

Being a life long learner is especially important in today’s society due to the fact that knowledge is constantly changing at an ever-increasing pace. As a result, there is always more that you can learn, and therefore, there is always more that you can do to try to improve your life.

woman with books

There is always more that you can learn. Nobody knows it all.

Unsuccessful people tend to stick with what they know. They learn how to do something once, and then keep doing it the same way for as long as possible until they are forced to make a change.

They also tend to be very resistant to new information, because they feel that they already know the important things and so there is no point in spending their free time learning something extra. As a result, they like to spend their free time watching TV, reading celebrity magazines or playing video games.

But what happens once you stop learning? The world doesn’t stand still, that’s for sure. Eventually, if you are not growing your knowledge, talents and abilities, then your existing set of skills will become obsolete.

What happens to obsolete people? They are discarded and thrown to the side because they are no longer viewed as being of enough value to be worth keeping.

man standing out in rain

If you are not constantly updating your skills, then one day you may find yourself being thrown out in the rain.

If you contrast this type of personality to the personalities associated with successful people, you will find the complete opposite type of behavior. Rather than thinking that they know everything, you will usually find that highly successful people have a strong desire to learn new information and to continually improve themselves.

As a result, they are constantly reading or learning how to do something which they did not know or could not do. Over time, such people are able to grow their knowledge, talents and abilities, and by doing so, become more valuable to themselves and to others.

Action step

Recognize that what you know today will soon be outdated, and so unless you are constantly developing and improving yourself, you too will also become outdated.

6) We All Have An Ego

Freud described the Ego as the part of you that experiences and reacts to the outside world. Ego’s have a lot to do with our self-esteem, as this determines how you feel about yourself and what you think is possible or impossible for you to achieve.

Low self-esteem occurs as a result of a difference between your current self (i.e., the way you are) and your ideal self (i.e., the way you want to be). The wider this gap, the lower your self-esteem will be.

Low self-esteem is something that’s made worse by the society we live in, a society that constantly exposes us to wealthy and beautiful people in the media.

When a person compares themselves with such people, they are then made aware of the gap that exists between the celebrity and themselves. As a result, an “average” person looking at a celebrity can easily start to feel inadequate with who and what they are.

sad woman pulling hat over face

People with low self-esteem can become withdrawn due to feelings of inadequacy that were created by the media.

People with low self-esteem are less likely to try new and challenging things, because they do so from a starting point of inadequacy and an expectation of failure.

Low self-esteem individuals therefore tend to stick with familiar routines, and rarely go outside their comfort zone. These are obviously not personality traits that are going to make a person successful.

In order to become successful, you must work on raising your level of self-esteem by not allowing the media to make you feel inadequate with your current self.

The easiest way to do this is to work towards the achievement of your goals, because by doing so, you will automatically spend less time distracting yourself with what’s on TV.

business man

You will feel better about your life if you spend most of your time doing things that add value to it.

In addition, you will also find yourself becoming less interested with what’s on TV, or what’s happening in celebrity culture, as you will recognize these things as being of little value in helping you to improve your life for the better.

Action step

If you have low self-esteem recognize this fact and question why you are currently feeling this way. Ask yourself, are you spending the majority of your time doing things that are wasting your life away? Or are you doing things that will help to bring success into your life?

The more worthwhile activities you do, the better you will feel about yourself because the better your life will become as a result of those activities.

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