10 Defining Traits That Have Made People Successful Throughout History

by Gurbaksh Chahal

So what exactly is the recipe to make you successful?

It's difficult to conclusively define what makes any one individual achieve greatness, but there are certain general qualities that these people share.

These are my top 10 traits that I believe all successful people have.


This is a generous life. One that is full of tremendous joy and pain. Needless to say, there will, at times, be uncertainty. The difference is how you handle it when it pops up.

We can choose to uphold the illusion of security and make decisions accordingly, OR we can choose to be open to diving into the unknown and trusting that there’s nothing to fear in that. Being effective in difficult circumstances and setbacks is what will enact change and propel you forward.


Being honest with the outside world is easy. Being honest with yourself can be challenging at times. However, if you approach life fearlessly then you will realize that good or bad, being honest with yourself will ultimately lead you in the direction you wish to go.

Are you scared of moving forward with your dream? Acknowledge it. You’d be amazed at how fast you will move towards your goal after you do so (you may even surprise yourself in the process.)

Time Management

Being productive with your time is essential in working towards your goals, professionally and personally. Have integrity in what you do and you won’t want to waste your time and others.


This is a hard one. Especially for someone like me. However, I have seen glimpses into the magic of having just a little bit of patience when it comes to all aspects of my life.

You might not see immediate results when working towards something long term. But this just boils down to trust and being fearless.

There is nothing to fear in this life – it’s just an illusion we have told ourselves. People who don’t succeed don’t have the patience to wait and see what happens months or even years from now. If everything came so easily and quickly, then why isn’t everyone successful?


Failure is part of the deal. One must always be ready to look failure in the eye and make sure that their next step is forward.

Behind every successful person there are stories upon stories of failure. While having your best plans blow up in your face is scary, it’s all part of the journey.


In this age of tech, it’s super easy to isolate yourself. The joke is that in order to achieve real success in this life, you must have a solid network of people around you.

Mentors, people who call you out, confidants, etc. Truly successful people never venture out on their own. In fact, they would probably tell you that it’s impossible. Go out there and start networking. Now.


Nothing is worth doing in this life without passion being the foundation. Studies show that people are far more productive and happy when they feel like they have a purpose.

So ask yourself… what do you truly enjoy in life? Start there. Follow that… You might amaze yourself.


It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want and how you think you need to go about achieving it. Just remember to stay open to all possibilities, as there might be more than one path to attaining what you want.


Having a plan is definitely important on your road to success. But what if things change? How easily will you move from one set of circumstance to the next?

Highly successful people are able to change with every turn and adapt to situations that arise. As Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Creating Value For Others

Why would anyone pay attention to you if you don’t have something to offer? Successful people know that they need to show value to others even if it's something as simple as helping someone out.

Figure out what you have to offer to the world, and karma will have a way to reciprocate it back to you.

And, lastly, always remember, “Success doesn’t come to you, you go to it.”

Photo credit: Getty Images