Success 101: 7 Common Traits (and Take-Away’s) of Highly Successful People

Success 101: 7 Common Traits (and Take-Away’s) of Highly Successful People


Have you ever wondered what the secrets of the inspiring and successful are?

You know, those people who seem to come from rock bottom only to bounce back at knock it out of the ball park? Are they gifted? Did they get a lucky break? Or are there habits and commonalities that they all share and from which we can each learn from?

Last week, I took a crash course on mastering the art of successful business. It was a week full of small and large insights, inspiring talks from incredibly successful businessmen and women – and left me with a lot of to-do’s that I am super excited about bringing to you and LYL! 🙂

But while at the conference, hearing one case study after another of amazingly successful people, I started to wonder, what is that makes the great ones great?

One of the speakers was John Paul Dejoria, Founder of Paul Mitchell haircare products. For those who don’t know the story, he was literally homeless, living in his car, when he started the product line. Today he is worth more than 2 billion dollars! Many of you know that Steve Jobs, began Apple computers without a college degree from his garage. He then went on to get fired from the company that he started only to comeback and achieve unbelievable success.

There are endless stories of people who have come from immense challenge and risen to the top. People who have far less than most of us currently have in our possession at the moment, but still turned it into something great.

The easy way out is to say that they are the ‘special ones’ but I don’t think it is quite that simple. I don’t think the great leaders necessarily possess a special skill or trait that any of us don’t have access to… I think the great leaders are the ones who had the courage and the competency to build up the skills to be great! Really, what they did was figure out a way to let the best of who they are shine at it’s brightest potential – and coupled that with an unwillingness to give up!

You see there are many ‘average’ people who have risen to the top, people no different than you or I. So what is it that makes these people great?

Today I want to share with you a few common traits (and examples) of incredibly inspiring and successful people. And the great news is… we can easily start to embrace these traits too!

7 Common Traits of Highly Successful People

1. Constant Learning and Growth

“We are drowning in information, we are starving for wisdom.” – Tony Robbins

If you aren’t growing, you’re dying so you must constantly feed your mind, your body and your soul! And this doesn’t mean once a year or once a decade (ideally you do so every single day!)… would you get an oil change for your car and then 10 years later when things start to break down, say “Well I did something to fix that 10 years ago?” I think not.

Also, it’s important to note that quality matters. Just like you can feed your body with crap, you can feed your mind with the same. Sorry to say, but scrolling Facebook or watching mindless television is not educational. You need to fuel your mind with greatness in order to be great!

Example: Tony Robbins (Speaker and Coach) – When Tony Robbins was first starting out, he read a book a day. This resulted in him reading over 700 books on psychology and Neurolinguistic Programming. He never got a degree in psychology, but he has arguably become more effective than anyone in the space!

Action: Aim for 30 minutes everyday consuming something that will help you grow. This is easier today than ever before; if you don’t think you have time to read, then listen to Ted Talks, podcasts, audiobooks, etc.

2. They Don’t Go at it Alone

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” – Stephen King

We’ve talked about this over and over again but no one goes at it alone. Every great leader has had a team of supporters in their corner, to lift them, support them, encourage them and to celebrate with them. It is human nature to self doubt, to get in a rut or to need an extra push, and that is why who you surround yourself with matters so much! Are you around those who refuse to let you fail?

Example: Stephen King (Author) – Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times before it was published! He was so frustrated and hopeless that he actually threw the manuscript away. Hey, who can blame him! His wife, who madly believed in his dream of becoming a published author, retrieved the script and today Stephen King has sold over 350 million copies of his 50+ available books.

Action: Join a group of like minded people, ideally in person but if not, then online. But if it is online, make sure that you are in touch regularly. This is exactly the reason why we created Live Your Legend Local and our Facebook Groups!

3. They Have Failed Many Times Over

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

We often hear of “overnight success” stories which are almost always a total illusion! Go back and look at that person before anyone was paying attention. My guess is that they put in more time, energy and effort to practice or master their particular skill than you could ever imagine.

Example: Thomas Edison (Inventor) – Today known as one of the greatest innovators of all time with over 1,000 patents, Thomas Edison is attributed with 10,000 failed attempts before he successfully invented the lightbulb. Some of us are ready to give up after one failure. Can you imagine 10,000?! He is quoted as saying “I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Action: If you get rejected or something doesn’t go as planned, instead of letting that derail you, let it fuel you. Immediately write down what you learned (be specific!) and more importantly, what you can do better next time. There is a lesson to be learned with every single experience in life! This is just one of the ways that didn’t work…

4. They Take Action Whether or not They Know How They Will Achieve the Result

“I was forced to be an artist and a CEO from the beginning… it was so hard to get a record deal on my own that it was either give up or create my own company.” – Jay Z

How many of you have done something that you now look back on and say “My gosh, how did I do that?” My guess is that if you were to back pedal through the steps that got you there you would discover that you created a strong enough reason to do what you did – whether it was to gain some sort of reward or avoid some sort of future pain. Your goal was no longer a should or a want, it was a MUST. You see, you do not always need to know how, but you do need to know WHY and when you have a strong enough why, you’ll find a way to do it.

Example: Jay-Z (Artist) – When Jay-Z was rejected one after another by nearly every single record label, he didn’t let that stop him. He wanted a record, so what did he do? He created his own record company! Eventually, he successfully released his debut album entitled, Reasonable Doubt, which eventually became a platinum album!

Action: Write down a very clear picture of what you want. As you do this, do not get bogged down in the how! The moment, your mind starts to say “Yeah right, how am I ever going to find a job like that?” Stop. Notice the thought. Let it pass. And continuing writing your clear vision. Then simply note 2-3 small tiny steps you can take to get closer to that dream (i.e. emailing someone you know in the industry, researching if that job exists, etc.).

5. They Have a Reason Greater Than Themselves

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” – Martin Luther King Junior

A truly successful person does so much more than just make money. They do the thing that makes them come alive – and they help others with their unique talent. We’ve all heard it a million times, yet a large majority of the world still seems to be striving for only the money piece of the pie. If at the end of the day what you do is not giving back to others in some way shape or form, either your life will feel very unfulfilling or more likely than not, your success won’t last. The truly wealthy are the ones who do more for others than anyone else.

Example: Martin Luther King Junior (Activist) – King became a civil rights activist early in his career. In 1962 he led unsuccessful struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia (the Albany Movement), and helped organize the 1963 nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama. King is most famous for his organization of the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, that had a vision for equality for all.

Action: Who do you help? List out all of the people that you currently help in your job and then list out all the people you would like to help. Also, in what ways will you contribute once you have grown larger than you are today?

6. They Think Differently

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The people who have made great strides and therefore a great impact, are the ones who saw that the world could be different than it is at that moment. The ones who noticed the problems that arise when we let ego lead our decisions and most importantly, the ones who actually did something about what they noticed. I think this video, never released during Steve Job’s life says it perfectly…The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are often times the ones who do!

Example: Mahatma Gandhi – Mahatma Gandhi was the primary leader of India’s independence movement and also the architect of a form of non-violent civil disobedience that would influence the world, a very different way of thinking at the time. He experienced a lot of resistance but his belief was so strong, he persevered. 

Action: Watch the video above! Then answer…How would you like to change the world? Put this note on your mirror or desk so you are reminded every single day!

7. They SHOW UP!

“If you take time to realize what your dream is and what you really want in life… you have to realize that there is always work to do, and you want to be the hardest working person in whatever you do.” – Steph Curry

Last week I heard stories from many incredibly successful people, some of which had attended this event 5+ times. Those who are successful don’t just show up once, they show up over and over and over again. We see this in elite athletes all the time, they don’t just stop showing up for practice once they ‘win’, they show up during the good times and the bad. No one is a master at anything they don’t do repeatedly!

Example: Steph Curry (NBA Athlete) – Steph Curry, considered by some to be the greatest shooter in NBA history, hasn’t let that stop him from achieving even greater heights. Last year, Curry was named MVP and the Warriors won the championship. One might think that they had reached their peak. But just a few months later at training camp, Curry was found doing his own late night practice (the second of that day).  He claimed “What I focus on every single year is trying to find a way to get better.” There is absolutely no limit with a mindset like that!

Action: Schedule something to show up for – an event, a conference, a meet-up (perhaps even the LYL World Party taking place in a few weeks?! I will be showing up to the one in SF!). Anything that will open opportunities and introduce you to like-minded (or not!) people. But very important, make sure that you put it on your calendar!

So as you can see, success doesn’t just fall into people’s laps. Not by any stretch of the imagination!

If you were to look deeper into each of these people’s stories, you’d see that most of them have all 7 of these habits and more (and a ton of discipline)!

To be truly great, you have got to do something great. And there is absolutely no better time than now. Get out there and do it today!

The world is waiting…

– Chelsea Dinsmore

Sources: San Jose Mercury News, Wikipedia, Wanderlust Worker.