8 non-obvious personality traits which predict long-term success

Success is a tricky thing to pin down, as it tends to look different for everybody. It’s not always about having the highest IQ or the most money in the bank.

Many people overlook that it’s often the less obvious personality traits that also play a critical role in obtaining our subjective long-term ideas of success. These are the traits that quietly shape our ability to persist, adapt, and grow.

As we dive into these 8 non-obvious personality traits, you’ll see that they’re not about quick wins or shortcuts. It’s not about arrogance, or people-pleasing.

Instead, these are the very strong foundations upon which long-term achievements are obtained.

1) Embracing uncertainty & living outside the comfort zone

Success isn’t always about having a step-by-step plan.

In fact, those who are most successful in life often share the ability to embrace uncertainty, which sends many other people running and cowering.

This might seem counterintuitive as success is often linked to the ability to plan plan plan, and work work work.

Yet, it’s not so simple; life being as unpredictable as it is, those who ride the wave tend to do better than those who try and dig their heels in (then inevitably get washed away). 

Markets change, opportunities come and go, and challenges arise when we least expect them.

Those who embrace uncertainty are better equipped to adapt to these changes. 

They’re able to pivot when necessary, seize unexpected opportunities, and navigate through challenges with resilience.

2) Delayed gratification

A quick question: you can have a gummy bear now, to tide you over reading the rest of the article (I know you like a quick sugar fix)…

Or, you can have 5 gummy bears once you’re done. But you’ll have to keep reading to get the gummy bears…

Which would you choose?

Personally, I’m a sucker for sweet things and would often opt for 1 gummy now. But this is a prime example of the ability (or inability) to delay gratification – to resist the temptation of an immediate reward in favor of a larger gain later.

And those who opted for 5 gummies later are exercising prime impulse control and long-term thinking.

Because cashing out early, spending money on superficial desires, or not having the discipline to work hard for future goals are all tempting paths which don’t take you as far as you could go.

The ability to delay gratification isn’t always easy, and it certainly isn’t glamorous. 

But those who think long-term and can politely decline the temptations along the way tend to set themselves up for a far greater chance at potential long-term success.

3) High emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is about understanding your own emotions and the emotions of others. It goes beyond what we often consider to be intelligence, and involves empathy, self-awareness, and the ability to manage emotions in a constructive way (both your own, and those of people around you).

Despite its importance, EQ often flies under the radar. 

Yet, research shows that individuals with high emotional intelligence are more likely to succeed in the workplace. 

High EQ allows individuals to navigate social complexities, to balance work relationships and hold public talks, to lead effectively, and manage their own emotions in a way that can drive positive outcomes. 

This trait can enhance relationships, improve decision-making, and increase resilience – all of which are critical for long-term success.

While traditional measures of intelligence (like the good old IQ) might grab more attention, it is often emotional intelligence that can have a quiet yet profound impact on your ability to achieve lasting success.

4) Grit and determination

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Let’s be honest: it’s not always the smartest or the most talented individuals who achieve the greatest success. 

Often, it’s those who display an unwavering sense of grit and determination. The ability to roll over, shake off, and bounce back up when they fall down.

Grit is about perseverance. It’s about sticking with your future, day in and day out, not just for a week or a month, but for years. It’s about working really, really hard to make that future a reality – even if others tell you that you’ll never achieve it.

Determination, on the other hand, is about having a firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end. It’s the will to keep going no matter how tough things get, and keeping your eyes fixed on the goal.

This mix of grit and determination form a powerful combo that can significantly contribute to long-term success. 

And whilst these traits might not be as obvious or glamorous as others, they are invaluable when it comes to forming the personality and tenacity needed to achieve long-term success.

5) Lifelong pursuit of learning

“I have to keep learning?! Even after school?!”

Not as boring as it sounds; lifelong learners are always seeking to grow. 

They’re never satisfied with what they already know; instead, they’re constantly looking for new knowledge, new skills, and new ways to improve themselves.

This trait not only keeps you relevant in a rapidly changing world but also opens up new opportunities. It helps you adapt, innovate, and navigate through challenges more effectively.

And being a lifelong learner isn’t just about the textbook ways we deem to show someone of intelligence, such as academic education, formal education, or the number of degrees on your resume. 

It’s about self-improvement, personal growth, and making the most out of your abilities.

Having this mindset and this thirst for knowledge can lead to increased creativity, better problem-solving skills, and ultimately, to long-term success.

6) Staying grateful, no matter the accomplishments

The practice of gratitude may seem unrelated to success, but its impact is far-reaching. Gratitude is about recognizing the good in your life and appreciating what you have.

This simple act can fundamentally shift your perspective, as it helps you focus on what’s already working in your life, rather than fixating on what’s not and allowing this to dominate your thinking.

Practicing gratitude helps to create a positive and resilient mindset. If you’re grateful for having a roof over your head and a hot cup of coffee, you’ll make the most out of every opportunity and be better prepared to weather life’s ups and downs.

Successful people often attribute their achievements to the support they’ve received from others and the many things they might not have had access to, yet did anyway.

And taking a leaf from their books, know that incorporating gratitude into your daily routine may not be an obvious path to success, but it’s a trait that can significantly enhance your overall quality of life and experience of fulfillment.

7) Ability to ask for help

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Many equate asking for help = appearing weak.

Tigers don’t hunt in packs, you frown.

Well, big cat, you’re not quite the same. Humans flourish in company, and trust me: it takes leonine courage to acknowledge when you’re struggling and to reach out to others for support or guidance. 

This is all about embracing humility and understanding that we all have weaknesses or soft spots which other people can help us to work through.

Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re incapable or weak by any means. 

On the contrary, it shows that you’re self-aware, open-minded, and committed to personal growth – all of which are key components of long-term success.

8) Authenticity

Finally, in a world where we are often encouraged to conform or play a facade (choose one), living authentically stands out as truly remarkable and quite brave a trait. 

Being authentic means being true to who you are and expressing your genuine feelings, thoughts, and values. In other words, it’s about living a life that aligns with your true self.

And living beyond the confines or a box, never chopping bits of yourself off, invites trust, builds respect, and deepens meaningful connections. It allows you to pursue what truly matters to you and not just what society or others expect of you.

This trait is not just about personal fulfillment, but also about long-term success. 

Although it’s not always easy to be yourself, authentic individuals are more likely to be satisfied, motivated, and resilient – all of which contribute to sustained success.

Being authentic is not always easy, but it’s worth the effort. It’s a non-obvious trait that can profoundly shape your life and your potential for long-term success.

Final thoughts

In the grand scheme of success, it’s easy to get caught up in the external factors – the right opportunities, connections, or circumstances. You end up feeling almost unable to achieve success if the cards don’t align.

Yet as we’ve discovered through these 8 non-obvious personality traits, much of our potential for long-term success comes from within. It lies in our attitudes, our behaviors, and our mindset.

From embracing uncertainty and delaying gratification to practicing gratitude and being authentic – these traits are not about what you have, but who you are as a person.

So in conclusion, I’ll stress: let’s not just aim for success. 

Let’s strive to cultivate and expand the important traits listed above, as they lead not only to success but also enrich our life experience in countless ways.

Picture of Liv Walde

Liv Walde

London-based writer with big thoughts, big dreams, and a passion for helping others.

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