12 Qualities of Highly Successful People


What is it that successful people have in common? What differentiates the extraordinary from the ordinary? What are the qualities that enabled individuals to build empires out of nothing? Many people ponder about these questions. They all center on the question what qualities one needs to develop in order to be successful. In order to find an answer we’ve taken a close look at successful individuals. We made sure to investigate the lives of a wide range of people who all were successful in different areas of life. Based upon our results, we came to an interesting conclusion: even though everyone defines success differently, there are certain qualities all successful people have in common. Here are the 12 most important qualities of successful people.

By closely analyzing the lives of successful people, ranging from Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Richard Branson, Guy Kawasaki, Steve Jobs, Gandhi, Larry Page, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, Thomas Edison, J.K. Rowling and many more, common characteristics could be identified. Interestingly enough, these qualities cannot be attributed to genes, accident or sheer luck. Instead, these character traits are the result of careful dedication and hard work.

It took successful individuals many years of trial and error to discover what qualities contributed to a successful life. You can avoid this struggle by having a close look at the qualities presented in the following.

Qualities of successful people

What are the qualities one needs to develop for success?

Use these qualities to establish the foundation for a successful life. Cultivate these habits and character traits to reap the delicious fruits of a prosperous life.

The Qualities of Successful People

Success comes in many different forms. Here are the most important qualities successful people have in common.

1. Vision

Successful people have a vision that fuels all their actions. It allows them to overcome larger-than-life obstacles. Even more so, it’s the very secret behind their laser-like willpower and motivation. Their vision enables them to go every extra mile necessary. Highly successful people might not particularly like all the tasks they approach, but their vision helps them to see what they are doing it for.

A great number of successful individuals have connected their vision to various kinds of greater purposes. Their desire to make this world a better place kept them going even during times of great disparity. Having a vision for life is great; connecting that vision to a greater purpose is even more powerful.

The powerful benefit of having a true vision must not be underestimated. Just think about Gandhi. He envisioned independence for his people. His vision allowed him to lead a peaceful movement that would eventually overcome a repressive regime.

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can change the course of history.
Mahatma Gandhi

Key learning: By having an ambitious vision for your life you can tap one of the most powerful sources of motivation.

2. Passion

Passion is a key quality of successful people. They are passionate about what they do. And, they truly love what they’re doing. Their passion creates the necessary excitement to accomplish great things. Through their excitement, successful people create enthusiasm in themselves and their followers. It’s the very enthusiasm that drives them to continuously challenge themselves.

Successful individuals wake up each morning feeling excited about the day ahead. They know that all their hard efforts they make during the day will bring them just another step closer to the accomplishments of their dreams.

Key learning: Passion is one of the keys to success. Don’t just be passionate about what you do; do what you’re passionate about.

3. Focus

Extraordinarily successful individuals are incredibly focused. They do not waste their time pursuing mindless activities. All their attention is directed upon their goals, dreams and visions. Being focused helps them to differentiate between the important and the irreverent.

Interestingly enough, successful people are not too easily distracted. They know how to concentrate all their attention on the task at hand. The continuous exertion of their concentration skills strengthened their mental capabilities.

Key learning: Being able to focus on what is important is crucial for success. Learn to strengthen your focus. Your attention span greatly determines if you’re capable of pursuing your goals with great determination and care.

4. Willpower

Another quality successful people have in common is their incredible willpower. It’s a quality that enabled them to successfully reach their goals. These highly successful individual recognize that ultimately, their willpower is limited. Therefore, they do not waste their willpower on irrelevant challenges. Instead, they make sure to only concern themselves with that which really matters to them. Even more so, successful people understand that their self-control is like a muscle. For this reason, they continuously exercise this mental muscle in order to strengthen it.

All too often, people give up when they face difficulties. Successful individuals, on the other hand, see these obstacles as challenges. It’s their willpower that keeps them going no matter how tough the going gets.

Key learning: Willpower is crucial for the pursuit of success. It helps you to tackle your tasks and responsibilities, even when you don’t feel like it.

5. Ambition

Successful people are ambitious to be the best they can be. It’s a trait that pushes them toward success. Yet, being ambitious comes with many negative connotations for some. The key to ambition is to pursue it in a healthy manner. When used responsibly, ambition can bring great results. In fact, a great number of man’s greatest accomplishments are the direct result of their ambition.

Successful people have a high degree of healthy ambition. They are able to control the negative forces of ambition. Doing so allows them to shape their ambitiousness according to their goals and ideals. Instead of being burned by their ambition, successful individuals harness this inner fire to fuel the pursuit of their dreams.

Key learning: Ambition can lead to great accomplishments, if it’s used responsibly. Always strive to be the best you can be, without allowing your ambition to burn yourself on those around you.

6. Flexibility

Successful individuals do not complain about upwind. Instead, they readjust their sails. The same holds true for the circumstances these people find themselves in. Instead of being overtly depressed by life’s bad happenstances, they always strive to make the best out of the situation. Their flexibility is a vital ingredient for their success in life.

Yet, many assume successful people grew up with a spoon in their mouth. They think successful individuals were born to rich parents who provided the best possible circumstances for growth. They think that successful people have always been privileged. Thinking that successful people did not face any hardship at all is merely just an excuse for these people to limit their own progress.

The examples of self-made billionaires such as Howard Schultz (Starbucks), Oprah Winfrey, Françoise Pinault (Kering) and Leonardo Del Vecchio (Ray-Ban, Oakley) show that many of the ultra successful came from nothing.

Key learning: Learn to make the best out of your situation. Be flexible in an ever-changing world.

7. Courage

Courage makes the difference between a highly successful and an ordinary person. It’s one of the core fundamentals of success. Still, it takes a great deal of courage to be successful in life.

Successful people are courageous. They have learned to confront their fears. They take risks and act in the face of danger. Their courage has enabled them to overcome what holds most people back. Their courage makes them overcome their own limits while others crack under the pressure.

Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.
George A. Sheehan

Key learning: Have the courage to go past your limitations. Do not shy away from taking risks. Face your fears and learn to control them. Do what scares you. If you are not only able to overcome what is holding you back, but also to confront your fears, you will excel in life.

8. Optimism

Successful people are pretty optimistic in nature. They see opportunities and challenges where others see only problems and difficulties. Their optimism enabled them to envision a better future. In fact, it was the very belief that they can affect positive changes that made them take responsibility for a better future. Without this deep conviction, it’s less likely to take action.

The highly successful are realistic optimists. They are realistic enough to know that action is required to accomplish their goals. But they are also optimistic enough to be convinced that they will be successful.

Key learning: Belief in your ability to make a better future. Unless you’re truly convicted you can have a positive impact, you’re unlikely to make it happen.

9. Confidence

Self-confidence is yet another key quality to success. Almost all successful people developed great levels of confidence in themselves throughout the years. Yet, the question remains: does self-confidence lead to higher levels of success or does success increase one’s confidence? It’s a chicken-or-the-egg argument that only goes to show how tightly success and confidence are related. It’s very likely that successful individuals grew ever more confident in their actions, the more successes they accomplished.

Responsible for this is a successful person’s perceived sense of self-efficiency. It’s the strength with which one holds the belief about being able to accomplish a particular task. As a result, successful people have a high level of self-efficiency, which allows them to be more persistent when confronted with obstacles. It also helps them to better overcome failure.

Key learning: Be confident about what to do. Remember your past successes and do not allow fear to discourage you from trying.

10. Persistence

Overnight successes are quite rare. Successful individuals know that in order to be truly successful, persistence is required. They are patient enough to continue the pursuit of their dreams even through difficult times. One might even say that they are stubborn enough not to allow failure to discourage them from working towards their goals. Henry Ford and Sam Walton are only two examples of great businessmen who had to work for more than 40 years before they finally had their breakthrough.

Key learning: If you do choose to pursue a goal, make sure that you do it right. Be persistent and do not give up until you’ve accomplished your mission. Use your failures as stepping stones upon which you can build the fundament for your success.

11. Preparation

The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.
Benjamin Disraeli

Properly preparing oneself can seem like an exhausting activity. It’s an effort not everyone is willing to make. Yet, it’s a sacrifice that can make all the difference. More often than not, it enabled the highly successful to better respond to the unfoldment of events. Their proper preparation helped them to maintain the upper hand when confronted with challenges or elements of surprise.

Their preparedness highlights the great importance successful individuals place on everything they undertake.

Key learning: Try to anticipate difficulties and challenges. Develop strategies and plans on how you intend to address these problems. It will help you to be in a better position even when something happens that you didn’t see coming.

12. Curiosity

Successful people truly enjoy exploring new things. Their minds are open to new ideas and concepts. They welcome the unknown. Successful individuals are quite open-minded. Their eagerness to continuously learn something new has helped them to reinvent themselves countless times in an ever-changing world.

The underlying principle for this willingness to learn is that the highly successful strife to become better each day. This eagerness has helped them to remain their deep curiosity about countless topics from all different kinds of areas.

Key learning: Never stop learning. Just because you’ve finished school or university does not mean you’ve learned everything you could. Be curious about the world you’re living in. Explore new and exciting opportunities and see how this enriches your life.

I hope you enjoyed this list about the qualities of successful people. What are the characteristics that you have observed in top performers?

Stay victorious!


About Author

Steve is the founder of Planet of Success, the #1 choice when it comes to motivation, self-growth and empowerment. This world does not need followers. What it needs is people who stand in their own sovereignty. Join us in the quest to live life to the fullest!


  1. Now, this is seriously a great list full of powerful and life-changing information.

    To me, optimism is extremely important if we want to be successful. I once heard Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma’s presentation. He said after he became successful and managed to learn and make friends with other successful people like Bill Gates and Larry Ellison, he discovered that they all have one thing in common. They are all very optimistic.

    They think very positive about the future and they believe the future will be better. And this is what makes these great people go on and venture deeper and take more action. We should all learn to think positively and be an optimist.

    Thanks for sharing Steve, great article. 🙂

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