People who are truly successful usually exhibit these 12 behaviors

Let’s face it: There’s really no single formula to achieving success. It’s just not a one-size-fits-all concept.

While we all take different paths to success, certain behaviors propel us there.

Think about all the successful people around you (including yourself, too!) and list the attitudes and practices you have in common.

Now compare your list to the one below, and don’t be surprised if they’re all too similar.

That’s because people who are truly successful usually exhibit these 12 behaviors.

Let’s get into it!

1) They rise and shine early.

Ever heard of the 5:00 am Club? It’s a concept that follows the rule of waking up at 5:00 am and doing 20 minutes each of exercise, reflection, and learning.

While I love that it encourages you to take time for yourself before starting your day, I wouldn’t necessarily advocate waking up at 5:00 am.


Because as a nurse and a mom to young kids, that doesn’t work for me. And I know there are a lot of other shift workers, night owls, and not-a-morning-person people out there that can relate yet are still successful in their own right.

So what do I mean by rising and shining early?

It’s waking up at least an hour before the intended start of your day (or night) to prepare your mind, body, and spirit. 

This makes you one step ahead of your game before it even starts, which leads me to the next behavior of a successful person:

2) They’re proactive, not reactive.

Successful people don’t just sit around and wait to react to what life throws at them. Instead, they’re actively planning and preparing for the future.

They’re the people who service their cars regularly rather than waiting for a breakdown before seeing a mechanic. 

They’re the ones who have an emergency savings fund tucked away for a rainy day. 

A successful person is like a chess master, always thinking a few moves ahead. 

This foresight allows them to have a plan B, C, D, or E ready for when plan A fails.

3) They set clear goals.

Setting clear goals gives you purpose and direction. When you know what you want, your actions and choices are more likely to synchronize towards your goals. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger is an excellent example of setting clear goals. In the 1960s, he pictured himself winning the Mr Universe competition and succeeded in taking home the crown in 1967. 

But he didn’t stop there.

When he shifted to acting, his goals changed too. This time, he wanted to be a famous actor who earned big money – and we all know how that turned out.

Successful people set goals because they know that when you’re clueless about your destination, you can end up anywhere. 

4) They’re fueled by grit.

Having goals isn’t enough for success – you have to take action, and that’s where grit comes in.

Did you know that grit trumps talent or intelligence when it comes to success?

Psychology Professor Angela Duckworth’s team did a study on grit and found that people with more grit are more likely to succeed than the less gritty ones, regardless of IQ levels. 

“Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

–  Angela Duckworth

YouTube video

5) They’re realistically positive.

A positive mindset conquers almost everything. But we must be realistic in our positivity.

What does this mean?

We maintain an optimistic attitude regardless of the situation, but we must also acknowledge that challenges and limitations are inevitable in life.

Take the acclaimed author J.K. Rowling as an example.

She has consistently expressed the value of maintaining positivity and hope while recognizing the necessity of confronting and accepting failures and rejections.

This was a life lesson she learned firsthand after the 12 rejections she received from publishers for her Harry Potter series before its eventual fame.

6) They bounce back like rubber balls.

If you’ve ever played with a rubber ball, you’ll know that the harder you throw them to the ground, the higher they bounce back.

Just like bouncy rubber balls, all successful people have relentless resilience. It’s a life skill that allows them to rise above every challenge and obstacle they encounter. 

No matter how life brings them down, successful individuals always come out stronger and better.

7) They have the self-confidence of a champion.

“I am the greatest; I said that even before I knew I was.”

This quote from Muhammad Ali is a mantra shared by many successful people.

Now don’t be too quick to judge it as arrogance – it’s not. 

Instead, it’s healthy self-confidence, a trait that successful people share.

You see, successful people are their biggest cheerleaders. They share the same take on confidence as Muhammad Ali: 

You can make things happen if you believe in yourself.

Of course, having people believe in you helps, but your progress will be limited if you don’t believe in yourself.

8) They focus on improvement rather than perfection.

Successful people believe in themselves because they know how excellent they are. But at the same time, they also know that they will never be perfect. 

Because of this, their focus is on steady progress instead of perfection

Think about this:

Aiming for perfection can blind you to any progress you’ve made. But if you concentrate on steady improvement, you allow yourself to see every small victory, creating a positive mindset that promotes sustainable progress.

Let’s look at going to the gym, for example:

You’d probably injure yourself by starting with a 200-pound bench press on your first day. But start with a lighter weight and steadily increase it as the days pass, and you’ll eventually be strong enough to reach the 200-pound mark.

9) They gracefully dance to the rhythm of change.

Another secret of successful individuals is that they embrace change with open arms. 

While some people see change as an intimidating process that pushes them out of their comfort zones, successful people see change as another opportunity to grow.

Whether it’s keeping up with fast-changing technology, adjusting to new realities, or coping with the trials of life, the ability to embrace change prevents successful individuals from being stagnant and irrelevant.

10) They have a black belt in discipline.

signs youre not an overthinker People who are truly successful usually exhibit these 12 behaviors

Have you ever wondered why ninjas are so good at their game?

The answer is discipline.

Discipline helps ninjas stick to their training and keeps them pushing even when they’re on the verge of quitting. 

With discipline, ninjas could do repetitive practices in the dead of the night. 

Without discipline, they couldn’t master their complex stealth techniques.

Discipline keeps a person focused and ensures they stay on their path. Without it, success turns into a fantasy rather than a reality.

11) They build strong, positive networks.

Successful people have the Midas touch when it comes to building solid relationships. 

They turn ordinary encounters into precious and meaningful connections. They nurture these relationships because they know all too well that success is best achieved through collaboration.

By the way, this trait is different from using people. 

Let me explain:

Imagine building strong networks as building a bridge together. Each side brings materials and ideas, all for the shared goal of completing the bridge. 

On the other hand, using relationships is like asking people to help build you a bridge so you can cross, with or without them.

12) They’re lifelong learners.

They may have achieved great heights, but did you know that a common trait of successful people is their love for learning?

Here’s one successful person who’s living proof of this:

Bill Gates reads at least 50 non-fiction books a year. That’s almost one book a week!

So why does the world’s fourth richest man (once the #1 richest) still bother reading when he has billions in his bank account?

Here’s the answer from the billionaire himself:

He says that with each book he reads, he picks up a fresh idea or sees things in a different light. He thinks this hunger to learn, fed by reading, played a massive part in his career progression and the work he’s doing now with his foundation.

But if books aren’t your thing, learning can happen through travel, from other people, and of course, by experience!

The ultimate measure of success

Successful people may share most of these behaviors, but may not have the same definition of success. 

Success is subjective. People view it differently based on their values and where they are currently at in life.

On that note, let me end this post with something to ponder on: 

“I know people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners, and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.”

– Warren Buffet on the ultimate measure of success

Picture of Sarah Piluden-Natu-El

Sarah Piluden-Natu-El

Sarah is a full-time mum, wife, and nurse on hiatus turned freelance writer. She is on a journey of diving deeper into life through life itself and uses her writing to share the lessons learned along the way. When not on her computer, she enjoys time with her family strolling along the Gold Coast's stunning beaches and captivating hinterland.

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