8 characteristics of highly successful people

Sara | AbstractedCollective
5 min readNov 29, 2018


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Have you ever wondered what makes highly successful people in our society the way they are?

What makes them tick? What drives them? What keeps them going when life is horrible to them?

I’ve always been fascinated by their psychology.

Of course some of them are incredibly lucky, came from wealth and connections and had everything handed to them on a plate.

Regardless, they do possess certain traits that set them apart from the others. They’ve also, I’ve observed quite different ways of thinking about life and can be quite unconventional.

And! After spending a number of years interviewing them, even working alongside some of them and reading some of their autobiographies (sports stars are my fav), I’ve noticed they do share similar characteristics

Here are 8 traits I’ve identified.

1. They have incredible persistence and resilience

Challenges and difficulties in life don’t really get them down for too long. When the going gets tough, that’s when they really pick up the chips and drive themselves even harder.

They don’t sit around moaning about how life is unfair to them, but see a way around the difficulties.

They turn the negative into the positive. They don’t shy away from negativity, but face it head on.

And, they don’t quit.

2. They don’t listen much to others

Now I’m not saying they are arrogant or that we should now start ignoring well-meaning advice.

But lots of highly successful people generally do not allow the opinions of others affect their path to their dreams. Especially their critics. They are never led by others’ thoughts about them.

You won’t hear them going around asking people if it’s ok that they do this and that in their lives. They just go ahead and do it.

3. They have pretty insane focus

Many of them have incredible laser-like focus on their dreams or goals. They know exactly what they want and they go after it. Yes, plans may derail, but they still find ways to get back on track.

They may have things they enjoy and indulge in. But those activities never become a distraction to their goals.

You definitely won’t see them procrastinating, sitting around getting distracted by their phones, Netflix, celeb gossip and what not.

4. They possess inner confidence

Whilst they might have some doubts along the way, you will rarely meet a highly successful person who is low on self-esteem.

They won’t be hesitant to go after things neither will they waste their precious time doubting their capabilities.

They also don’t go around looking for approval from others or constantly compare themselves with others in order to feel bad about themselves.

They possess a high level of self-belief and self-efficacy and know what it takes to get to where they want to be.

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5. They are voracious self-learners and initiators

They don’t wait for a training program to drop on their table, or a mentor to appear or for people to volunteer to guide them.

They get out there, they talk to people, ask for advice, humble themselves and learn from the other experts.

Many of them I know have a hobby which is very much a skill that they have cultivated and learned to a very high level on their own. Be it languages, mountain-climbing, calligraphy.

To me this is just testament to how driven they are to succeed, even in their hobbies, and is evidence of their hunger to learn.

Many are voracious readers and consumers of content, be it podcasts, conferences and the like.

6. They are hardworking

I know that working smart is all the rage these days.

But the thing is, you only get to work smart, and “game the system” only after you’ve spent a good number of hours doing what you need to do.

This is especially so at the beginning. You have to be willing to spend a substantial amount of time, figuring things out and doing the hours.

Nobody becomes an expert just like that.

Highly successful people understand this and you’d find that many of them started off putting in an incredible amount of hours working on their goals.

They don’t shy away from hard work.

7. They aren’t afraid to do the boring repetitive, ‘basic’ stuff

Sportspeople in particular do a lot of “basic” things day in and day out. Be it practicing their swing, running laps around the track, practicing ball control etc etc.

I remembered reading about Michael Phelps’ pre-Olympic routine which was pretty rigid and involved just swimming laps, eating specific meals at specific times and specific workouts etc. He did for days on end.

Enter the corporate world, and you see the same pattern with the highly successful ones.

Many of them embrace boredom as they understand that learning and growth involves incremental improvements and a lot of the time, that process may be slow.

Mastering a skill also takes hours, sometimes years of practice. And that means doing the same ole’ same ole’ for quite a long time.

8. They are self-disciplined

They stick to a schedule. They have healthy habits they indulge in regularly. Many of them are also very punctual people.

Whilst a lot of us retire to our couches and Netflix after work and even on weekends (and hey nothing wrong with that at all). But these people, come rain or shine, fatigue, lousy day at work etc are out there running, reading or doing whatever they need to.

Although they might not enjoy doing it all the time. They know that certain things are necessary in order to see success.

They set their minds to it and they go through with it, regardless of feelings or external circumstances.

And those are just 8 key things that set the really successful people apart from the rest of us.

What makes these distinct from factors like luck or family wealth, is that these are attitudes which we can train ourselves to possess. The only question that remains is, are we willing to?

Originally published at abstractedcollective.com on November 29, 2018.



Sara | AbstractedCollective

I write about relationships, personal growth and mental health. Dreamer. Tea addict. Researcher. https://abstractedcollective.com/home