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The 10 Attributes of Wildly Successful People You Should Memorize Now

Updated: Mar. 13, 2024

You know those people who seem to ace everything in life? Researchers have uncovered their secrets to success.


Secrets of success

We all know people who seem to be accomplished in their every pursuit. So it’s especially interesting to read a 2017 British study that drills into the ten attributes that make people extra good at what they do. And they all have a few things in common. For starters, they identify and understand their strengths when pursuing a goal, says Amanda Potter, the lead researcher, founder, and managing director at Zircon Management Consulting, a business psychology company in England. High achievers also tend to be motivated by a negative or positive life event, and they credit their success to having someone in their life who believed in them. After conducting interviews with 42 high-achievers, including a range of CEOs, entrepreneurs, sports stars, and media personalities, Potter concluded that we all have a different combination of winning attributes—in other words, no two winners are exactly the same—however, all successful people have some or all of ten specific attributes. “For example, it may be your single-minded focus and determination or it might be your curiosity and willingness to disrupt the current situation that makes you successful,” she says. Read on as our two experts explain why the qualities that engender success and why they’re so key.


Burning ambition

Successful people are driven to achieve their goals, but for the ultra-successful there’s an even bigger mandate, says Isaura Gonzalez, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist in New York City. “Burning ambition takes into account the desire to hit your mark each and every time as well as an unrelenting desire to be the best of the best.”


Dogged determination

Being doggedly determined means that obstacles are not deal-breakers, but mere inconveniences that need to be overcome. “There is no hesitation, just action, when it comes to success,” Gonzalez says. “Success comes when you have hit your mark, and determination is the road on which you travel to hit that mark.” Get ready to troubleshoot with this guide to handling tricky interpersonal situations.


Realistic optimism

Optimism is important, but you can’t expect that the sun will shine 100 percent of the time. “It’s imperative to focus on maintaining positivity while acknowledging the realistic obstacles that can deter us from achieving our goals,” Gonzalez says. “It’s not thinking that nothing will ever go wrong. Rather, it’s about thinking that we can achieve what we set out for ourselves even if there are setbacks.” Here’s what naturally optimistic people do every day.


Unwavering belief

Believing in your product or goals is important but it’s also wise to stay balanced when it comes to yourself and the world around you. “Super-successful people take into account weaknesses or deficits as well as the positives,” Gonzalez says. “They understand that despite anything and everything, they can achieve the goals they set for themselves.”


Intrinsic generosity

This is the concept of starting from the outside in. “Super successful people take care of those around them—the team, customers, and family come first,” Gonzalez says. “Individuals who are successful are often givers. They give of themselves to satisfy the needs of others and derive genuine satisfaction from it.”


Mutual respect

The most successful people know that they get a major boost from the people in their life who help them be productive, whether it’s a supportive spouse, a colleague, or a receptionist, says Susan Kuczmarski, EdD, a cultural anthropologist and author of Becoming a Happy Family. “These people are as valuable to you as the COO or the CFO. Accomplished people know that everyone needs to benefit and participate in the team to be successful.”


Maximizing opportunities

Successful people are the first ones to create new ways to network with others or new spinoffs of tried-and-true concepts. “By sharing this knowledge with others, each person who surrounds this trailblazer will be successful too,” says Kuczmarski. Also useful: The 10 body language secrets that could make you more successful.


Disruptive thought

To be super successful, you need to be a life-long learner. “Equally important, you have to be willing to learn and to fail—and yes, I used the word ‘fail’ because it should not be a dirty word,” Kuczmarski says. “Disruptive, innovative thinking involves failure, learning and moving forward with more knowledge in hand.” If you need more proof, see these 14 ironic “failures” of wildly successful people.


Constant curiosity

To be a winner, a person must replenish their knowledge and know-how. “When people stay curious about the world around them, they will become more creative,” Kuczmarski says. “This will help free them for more personal growth too.”


Single-minded focus

As successful people know, professional passion is the opportunity to engage in something you truly love, and it’s one of the biggest keys to being super successful. “But there is a prerequisite,” Kuczmarski says. “You have to work in an environment that nurtures this. If that exists, success will follow.” Next up, find out what successful people do every morning.