The 13 Most Important Character Traits For Success

Losers make promises they often break. Winners make commitments they always keep. Denis Waitley

After years of working with small business owners and managers, my partner (and husband), David A. Scarborough, and I have developed our own list of personality traits that we believe enhance people’s ability to be more successful personally and professionally. Briefly, these folks are:

  • Passionate – They love their chosen career and can’t think of anything else they’d rather do.
  • Life-long learners – They are endlessly inquisitive and committed to becoming and/or remaining students of business and marketing.
  • Perceptive – They understand that perception is reality.
  • Patient – They know that “get-rich-quick” schemes are hooey.
  • Prepared – They’ve done their homework and are poised and ready for opportunity when it comes knocking.
  • Tenacious – They have a long-term perspective and are willing to stay the course.
  • Optimistic – They face the brutal facts of reality but choose to maintain a have a positive attitude.
  • Focused on the present – They repeat their past successes and don’t dwell on their past mistakes. They live in the present, their most valuable asset.
  • Reliable – They keep their promises and do what they say they’re going to do.
  • Honest and trustworthy – They understand how long it takes to develop a great reputation and how quickly it can be destroyed.
  • Good listeners – They understand that their best marketing tools are their ears.
  • Willing to change – They modify their behaviors, beliefs and attitudes after gaining knowledge that effectively disputes previous notions.
  • Accept responsibility – They step up to the plate and are accountable for their behavior and their actions and never look to blame others.

In our book, “The Procrastinator’s Guide to Marketing” (Entrepreneur Press, November 2007) David says:

Wise people recognize that time is their most precious asset.

I’ve never heard of, or met, anyone who’s managed to escape life’s disappointment. It’s true… life is not always fair. Believe it and move on. What happens to you is far less important than your reaction.

Attitude is not something that just happens… it’s something we choose. In other words, ‘Face it, trace it, and erase it.’ And while I’m not suggesting that you avoid confronting the brutal facts of reality, I am advising you to reach in your “baggage” and pull out the valuable lessons you’ve learned from your mistakes, disenchantments, frustrations, and the like.

One of my mentors, Brian Tracey, says, “All the good ideas have already been found. It’s up to you to apply them. Don’t worry about the stuff you can’t do anything about. Let go of the past… Stop the, ‘if – onlys…’ The only good thing about the past is that it teaches you how to be successful in the future.

A simple self-assessment that you can use to rate yourself  from 1 to 10 on the following 12 traits (1 is lowest, 10 is highest)

Write a value next to each of the following prompts. During the next several weeks, work on improving any that you scored six or less on:

  1. I maintain healthy relationships with others, including those who have different opinions and perspectives.
  2. I give and ask for constructive feedback.
  3. I listen to others carefully and then carefully respond.
  4. My friends, co-workers, employees, customers, and family members know that they can count on me to keep my word.
  5. I share my time, talent and knowledge freely with others.
  6. I am committed to life-long learning and actively seek out information on a variety of topics.
  7. I accept responsibility for my attitudes, decisions and actions.
  8. I organize and prioritize my time and tasks.
  9. I generally focus on why things will work, rather than why they won’t.
  10. I am not afraid to uncover and work on my own “blind spots.”
  11. I am a resourceful and innovative thinker.
  12. I understand that building a business takes time, energy, planning and hard work.

Remember, excellent marketing begins in your head. If you consciously adopt a healthy attitude and learn and apply sound strategies and tactics, you’re half way there.


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Mary Eule Scarborough, an unassailable marketing expert and thought leader, helps businesses of all sizes get and keep more profitable customers. She is also:

  • A former Fortune 500 marketing executive, …
  • The founder of two successful small businesses, …
  • An award-winning speaker, …
  • A Certified Guerrilla Marketing coach, and …
  • Co-author of three books (to-date): “The Procrastinator’s Guide to Marketing“, (Entrepreneur Press, November, 2007), “Mastering Online Marketing” (Entrepreneur Press, January, 2008), and “Guerrilla Marketing On The Internet” (Entrepreneur Press, July, 2008).
  • Qualified with a BA in Journalism / English from the University of Maryland, and …
  • Qualified with a Masters degree in marketing from The Johns Hopkins University.

Log onto her website: www.StrategicMarketingAdvisors.com for free marketing articles, tools, tips and templates…or to learn more about her books, products and services.

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