Six Key Characteristics of Successful People

At one time, now more than 25 years ago, I had a belief that success was measured by the external – what position one had in society, the house I live in, the clothes I wore, the car I drove and how much money I had. While there is nothing wrong with nice things, they don’t define “success.” Easy for me to say now, but it wasn’t until I was in prison, that I understood there was more to Six Key Characteristics of Successful Peoplesuccess than the external. Success had to begin from the inside out and I was clearly set to be a work in progress. Incarceration was a transformative time for me and over the course of that time, in conversations with Buck, my cellmate, I became aware there are six key characteristics of successful people.

  1. Accept Responsibility for Our Choices: If I have less than positive results in my life, then I have made less than “good” choices. Many people want to hold onto being a victim. I hear so often that a personal “prison” must be the fault of someone else. If we continually blame another person or situation, we disempower ourselves and maintain the prison walls. We are responsible for where we are in our lives. Our choices have brought us to the point where we are today. Not long ago someone argued with me about this point. She said that she didn’t ask for her husband to abuse her. She wanted to be a victim. I agree, she didn’t ask for ill treatment, but she didn’t leave either. Her choice to stay helped make her a prisoner in her own life.  Six Key Characteristics of Successful People – One
  1. Embrace Change: Change brings opportunity and opportunity brings change. When a baby is born there is pain, pressure and discomfort and finally the cord is cut. We call this the miracle of birth. For change to occur, we need the transformation of birth in many areas of our lives. So many wish to avoid the pain, pressure and discomfort opting instead to live lives in an old, stale way. When, however, we find ourselves in an uncomfortable situation, we come to understand that something new and better is on the horizon. There is pain with change and sometimes the only thing we can do in the midst of the pain is to claim the power of choice. Ask yourself if you are creating more pain to stay the same or are you creating foundation for true success by allowing for change.  Six Key Characteristics of Successful People – Two
  1. Practice Gratitude: Often times we compare ourselves to others and deciding how much better we are than them. Sometimes we have a sense of failure and can never be like the other person. For me, I knew I could be somebody and measured my success based on the external world. To achieve it, I embezzled money from my clients.  Embezzling led to a prison sentence. The time in physical prison provided me the experience of gratitude. I came to understand being grateful for all that happens in life ensures the more we are entrusted to receive. From the worst of circumstances can come the best of outcomes. Often I am asked, “Well if you had it to do over again would you?” Of course the answer is “NO!” Yet, I am grateful for where I am today knowing that my past choices have created the foundation for me to touch more lives that I could have ever imagined.  Six Key Characteristics of Successful People – Three
  1. Be Kind and Respectful to Others and Myself: Within this trait is an assumption of forgiveness of those who hurt you and for yourself in the ways you hurt yourself. We tend to hold grudges against the people who hurt us. We want them to be punished and we want to be the punisher. No one ever wins with holding a grudge. When we come to understand that all of us are imperfect, then it is easier to be kind to all people including ourselves. We all make mistakes, but we are not a mistake.  Six Key Characteristics of Successful People – Four
  1. Self-Integrity: Being somebody isn’t defined by the outer material trappings. Rather, being somebody is defined by using our talents and gifts in a constructive helpful and productive way. Living in our own self-integrity and allowing that to be present in every aspect of our lives creates a framework for who we are today and in the future. This is an integral part of success.  Six Key Characteristics of Successful People – Five
  1. Live in the present moment: As human beings, many of us live in the past or the future. I am a very future oriented person so I constantly seek an experience to ensure the future. Many live in the past and what happened to them as a reason they are not successful in achieving their goals. It is important to understand that the past does not define us at all. The past provides the experiences we need for success if we learn from it. It is the fertilizer for the present. The present is where we make the choices to set the stage for success. And from making empowered positive present choices we can create a powerful future…one that is filled with success.  Six Key Characteristics of Successful People – Six

While there are many other characteristics of people who are successful, these are the six key characteristics that provide the foundation for success. I know that true success lies with integrating these characteristics into my life. Today I often ask folks in my seminars the following question: “Do you recall who Miss America was in 2008?” People look at me having no clue the answer. Then I follow with the question: “Who was the best teacher you had in your life?” As soon as the question is asked, I can see gleams in the eyes of audience members as they remember their best teacher. You see – SUCCESS – isn’t a function of what you have, but rather SUCCESS is truly measured by the impact that you have on the lives of others.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • thomshone says:

    I suspect that if I continue to dig into Chuck Gallagher’s work, I will find that the prison experience also included a transforming experience with Christ.

    I get that marketing that experience as the lead to a diverse population may not be good marketing. I am just impressed that these 6 observations track closely with my own introspective observations

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