Let’s face it: we live in the golden age of showing off.
Every social media post adds another entry in the curated highlight reel of our lives, and even when we think we are being honest, it may just be another form of bragging.
We are constantly told that we need to be permanently on transmit, and that all that matters is what other people – including strangers on the Internet – think of us.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with sharing your achievements. But often, the most successful people are those who don’t waste their time bragging and instead just get on with doing what makes them happy.
I don’t mean success in terms of money or fame, although that can be nice.
Instead, in this article, I’m going to be talking about success as a measure of how much you live by your own values, principles, and desires.
Because that’s true success.
And people who live like that share several personality traits that have helped them to get to where they are.
Let’s take a look at the personality traits of people who quietly succeed.
1) They don’t care what other people think
Truthfully, we all care a little bit about what others think. It’s part of the deal you get with being human, along with opposable thumbs and a bad back.
But while some people live their whole lives according to what other people will think of them, other people barely notice at all.
And those are the people who end up quietly succeeding at everything they try.
You see, when you worry too much about what other people think, you close yourself off from some possibilities that might have led you to ultimate success.
On the other hand, if you have confidence in your own decisions and abilities, you will chase your goals no matter what other people say, making you more likely to achieve them.
A key component of success is knowing yourself really well. Once you do, you’ll find that your self-esteem comes from within.
The opinions of other people no longer bother you.
2) They don’t let criticism bring them down
Along with not caring what other people think comes being almost immune to criticism.
Now, that doesn’t mean you ignore what other people say completely.
In fact, being successful means knowing how to accept criticism and use it to make yourself better.
As career development expert Nicole Lindsay writes, constructive criticism can help you improve your skills, work, and relationships. And constructive feedback can even come from flawed sources.
But what quietly successful people don’t do is let criticism stop them from doing what they want.
That’s because they believe in what they are doing, and don’t put too much value in the opinions of other people.
3) They work tirelessly toward their goals
It’s easy to buy into the exciting stories of overnight successes. But that’s not how real life works.
Even people who seem to have come out of nowhere to achieve fame and fortune have usually spent years quietly toiling away, developing their skills, experience, and networks to allow them to become what looks like a sudden success.
And often, all that work is hidden because quietly successful people don’t draw attention to it.
For them, the work is enough. And they will keep working at their goals for years or even decades because they believe so strongly in what they are doing.
Sometimes, that means working a regular job and building a business or creating art in their spare time. Sometimes, it means quitting a comfortable life and running off to do their own thing.
It can take many different forms. But at the bottom, it’s a personality trait that is shared by most successful people.
4) They make decisions based on facts
On one hand, emotions are part of what makes life worth living.
On the other, they often get between us and the lives we want to live.
Successful people know that, which is why they will rarely make a decision based on how they feel. Instead, they will look into the facts of any situation they find themselves in and base their decision-making process on that.
In the book Organizing and Managing Insanely Great Products by David Fradin, the author points out that no matter what the industry, companies that make fact-based decisions more frequently tend to perform better than those that don’t.
And what works for big companies can work for you, too.
It’s not always easy to take the emotion out of your decisions, especially when you are passionate about what you’re doing.
But taking a step back and allowing yourself some time to focus on evidence instead of feelings is one of the key traits of people who quietly succeed.
5) They control their emotions
Of course, taking emotion out of decisions is easier when you have better emotional control in the first place.
And that’s why people who are quietly successful often have their emotions very much under control.
That doesn’t mean they don’t feel things as intensely as the rest of us. Instead, it means they are emotionally mature enough to know that feelings are not facts.
That’s what allows them to make evidence-based decisions that lead steadily toward success.
6) They delay gratification
In a famous experiment in 1972, children were offered a choice. They could have a marshmallow now, or they could wait a little while and get two marshmallows instead.
Follow-up studies found that the kids who waited to get two marshmallows did better in life by a number of metrics, including SAT scores, educational attainment, and even body mass index.
This is called delayed gratification. It’s the ability to do without something you want right now if it means you can get something you want even more in the future.
Think about it. There is no success without sacrifice.
When I was building my own company, I still had to hold down a full-time job. So I would come home from work every day and then immediately start working on advertising material, legal documents, sales strategies, and everything else it takes to get a startup off the ground.
I would do that until I went to bed, and then I would get up the next morning and do it all over again.
It was no fun at all. But it did help me launch a company that became quietly very successful.
7) They stay positive
Doing anything rewarding is going to require sacrifice. And you’re going to meet hardship along the way.
What makes successful people stand out is that they stay positive, even in tough circumstances.
That doesn’t mean being blind to reality. You don’t have to lie to yourself and pretend you’re enjoying unpleasant experiences.
But it does mean focusing on the positive in any situation.
8) They embrace challenges
It’s even better if you can embrace the challenges you will undoubtedly face.
The more ambitious you are, the more you will find standing between you and your dreams. But truly successful people learn to embrace their challenges.
Think of it like going to the gym. Those weights are heavy, but over time, lifting them again and again makes you stronger.
It’s the same thing with the challenges people face along the road to success. If you learn to embrace them, they can make you better and become the steppingstones to your future success.
9) They try new things
Doing what everyone else does will get you where everyone else is.
If you want something better or something different, you have to do something different.
Thinking outside the box is what launched some of the world’s biggest companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon.
But it works for smaller scale success, too.
I was able to make writing my career because I was willing to try it, no matter how many people told me it was impossible.
I didn’t go to school or wait for someone to offer me a big break. Instead, I went traveling with my laptop and took any writing job I could find, building up my skills and my network until I could turn it into a career.
If I hadn’t been willing to try something new, I would still be working at a job I didn’t like in a place I didn’t want to live, waiting for life to get good.
Becoming a quiet success
Being successful doesn’t mean you have to shout it from the rooftops. And it doesn’t mean being famous, unless that’s what you want.
Instead, it means staying true to yourself, focusing on your growth, and building the life you want to live.
So if you don’t have these personality traits yourself, maybe it’s time to start working on them to achieve success.