17 traits of a highly successful person with exceptional character

Character doesn’t always equate to success – but it’s something that all successful people seem to have.

Whether they’re millionaires or your friends that always seem to have it more together than you, they always possess some character traits that help them go through life.

Curious? Here are a few common threads that I noticed:

1. They’re Willing To Fail

As a rule, failure isn’t something that we usually encourage.

Society always puts an emphasis on those who succeed – and any step that doesn’t seem to lead to that is frowned upon, to say the least.

However, people with exceptional character know that failure is a natural – and even unavoidable – part of life.

They know that failure isn’t a sign to stop, but merely an opportunity to learn.

2. They Help Others Succeed

Overall, what I’ve found characterizes really successful people is their attitudes toward success.

Take competition, for example. Most of us wouldn’t be a fan of someone directly competing with us, but these people don’t mind.

In fact, they’ll sometimes go out of their way to help their competition (as far as they’re able to go without sabotaging themselves, of course), just so the playing field is leveled.

Success is something they aspire to share, not to be selfish with.

3. They Communicate Well

Success relies on being able to work well with others. Learning how to communicate well is the best way to accomplish this, and it’s a trait that these people have in spades.

Clear communication isn’t just something they use to get ahead — it’s their default way of dealing with others.

This makes them one of the best people to talk to, and one of the easiest people to work with.

4. They’re Observant

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by everything to see that you end up actually not seeing anything at all.

I’m particularly guilty of this – sometimes there’s just so much to pay attention to that I end up blocking a lot of things out.

But for successful people, having more to see means having more opportunities to learn.

They’re observant, taking note of the important things, not just looking at them.

5. They Do A Lot Of Self-Reflection

I’ve always thought that a little more self-reflection could’ve helped me avoid a lot of sticky situations.

Sometimes it’s all too easy to not look before you leap, and where you land usually isn’t pretty.

Successful people with character don’t rush into things.

They reflect if what they’re doing is the best course of action, and after that, reflect some more.

They don’t do anything without thinking it through, which helps them avoid the many messes that most people fall into.

6. They’re Non-Judgemental

Because they tend to self-reflect, highly-successful people also don’t judge anyone without merit.

They understand that everyone has their own unique circumstances, and they never hold that against them.

It’s really easy to talk to successful people since you never feel like you’re being judged.

That doesn’t mean that they’ll accept everything you are – but you know they’ll never hold it against you.

7. They’re Naturally Comforting

I’ve always felt at ease around successful people with character.

It’s actually easy to forget that compared to me, they have it made – and this type of comfort is something you’ll rarely experience with someone else.

I think it’s because they understand that people have different reactions toward them, so they go out of their way to accommodate others who may feel uncomfortable.

They make allowances for you and don’t impose them or their successes in your interactions.

8. They Act On Their Own Initiative

Something that comes with the assurance of success is the capability of acting on your own agency.

It’s a trait I’ve noticed that comes with truly successful people, especially the ones who’ve been succeeding for a long time.

They don’t have to be told to act on something or wait for someone else’s say-so: they just do things.

They’re comfortable with the challenges of taking initiative and capable enough to deal with the consequences.

9. They’re Kind To Everyone – As In, Everyone

Successful people respect everyone, no matter their circumstances.

They’re kind to everyone, mainly because they often have first-hand experience of how harsh the world can be. They treat a CEO the same way they treat a street sweeper.

So instead of being equally harsh or uncaring, they use their success to make the world a better place for everyone – or at least for the people in their immediate vicinity.

They’re often the ones who treat those who can do nothing for them with kindness and respect, even if no one’s looking.

10. They Don’t Brag Or Bluster

If there’s one thing that’s always surprised me about my successful friends, it’s how much they don’t like getting recognition.

You’d figure with a string of accomplishments under their belt, they’d be far more comfortable with the spotlight than the rest of us. But that’s not the case.

Some may be wondering why, and it all comes down to how “special” they view their successes are.

While they know their milestones to celebrate, they’re never something to brag about.

They never make a big deal out of themselves or what they’ve accomplished.

11. They Have Their Own Definition Of Success

An equally important part of getting ahead is knowing when to stop.

People with character understand that they won’t be successful all the time, and they don’t burn themselves out by trying to always be successful.

That means that they’re not just comfortable with failure, but they’re also fine with not accomplishing anything.

These types of individuals see life as a marathon, not a sprint – and they don’t let their successes dictate the pace of how they live.

12. They Educate Themselves

While formal education can do a lot to help a person get ahead, truly successful people with character will always look to educate themselves on anything.

I’ve met a few of these people outside the classroom: and it’s their attitude about learning, not where they learn, that really matters.

They’re always curious about new things, but they also make it a point to educate themselves about things they don’t know.

Combined with their natural critical thinking, this trait makes them naturally good at picking up new skills.

13. They Don’t Dwell On The Past

I’m still haunted by mistakes I made a long time ago, long after they’ve stopped mattering as well.

But my successful friends don’t really dwell on the past, since they know that doesn’t help them learn from it.

That doesn’t mean that they don’t think the past is important. It’s just something that they can’t do anything about.

How many of us have gotten tied up in regrets instead of actually doing something to prevent the same mistakes?

For successful people, it’s far better to have done and do better rather than not do anything at all.

14. They Don’t Take Things Personally

My successful friends are some of the most chill people I know, and I don’t mean that they’re devoid of emotion – rather, they don’t let their emotions get the better of them.

They understand that what they feel isn’t always valid and justified, and they’re not selfish to think that everything is always about them.

As a result, successful people never take things personally, even if that was the intention.

They know that there are bigger things in life to consider aside from themselves, and they don’t get carried away with being self-centered.

15. They Prefer To Be Subtle

People with exceptional character never need to be loud – they have their actions do the talking for them.

But even those actions always lean towards the subtle side.

I’ve always admired how successful people can make everything they do seem nonchalant until I realized that’s exactly what was happening.

They don’t make things seem nonchalant because to them, very few things are worth making a big deal about.

Subtlety is one of their favorite moves and they execute it frequently and well.

16. They’re Tactful About How They Approach Difficulties

A lot of people have two responses to conflict: either tackle it head-on or run away from it.

Successful people with character understand that every situation can’t be seen in black and white, and should be handled depending on the circumstances.

This is especially apparent in how they approach difficult situations. They never escalate if they can help it, but they also won’t ignore the issue.

When they do something about it, they’re very careful to not overreact – they deal with difficulties calmly but tactfully.

17. They’re Extremely Approachable

One thing I’ve always admired about really successful people is that they’re extremely approachable.

Sometimes success and fame can make someone seem untouchable to everyone else, but these people are always down-to-earth and ready to talk with anyone.

I’ve never felt self-conscious about talking with my successful friends or feeling like I’m wasting their time.

They understand that other people’s experiences are just as valid as their own, and don’t let their successes dictate the state of their relationships.

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Lachlan Brown

Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the editor of Ideapod and founder of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 6 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you to want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

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