Off TopicProductivity

5 Characteristics of a Successful Person

By Ron Pereira Updated on December 15th, 2008

I was recently asked to describe the key characteristics of a successful leader/person. Here’s my take on it.

1. Hustle

Nothing beats hustle. I don’t care how smart someone is, in my opinion, if they’re not willing to work their butts off they will not succeed long term.

This is actually one of the reasons I attribute to any success I’ve enjoyed in my career. You see, I have never been the smartest guy in the room… but, at least for the most part, I have rarely been out hustled by anyone. This has served me very well.

2. Get things done

The main reason the hustling person is so valuable is because they get things done. Instead of talking about problems or complaining about them… the hustling leader is actually attempting to do something about it.

3. Do what you say, and say what you do

Next, nothing is worse than making promises you cannot keep. So, if you say you are going to do something… do it. And if you don’t think you will be able to get something done, don’t say you will.

4. Fail better

Another attribute of the successful person is their willingness to fail. This is to say they are willing to challenge the status quo while not worrying about being wrong.

It also means that when they do meet a temporary setback – or failure – these people find a way through it. They don’t settle. They don’t quit. They are relentless. They are willing to fail better.

5. Think

Lastly, the successful person is always thinking. They’re constantly wondering why. They’re constantly searching for a better way. They challenge others and themselves by asking tough questions to tough problems. In short, because of their constant thinking they make others think.

What do you think?

Do you agree with this list? Have I missed anything?

  1. Mike Alderman

    December 16, 2008 - 9:38 am

    Ron, I can agree, successful people must do these things. I think there are a couple more to add in here. (I know the title says 5 things) But Tactfulness and Respect for people have to be very close there. Because without people how can one be successful… IMO it takes people too, to be successful.
    A successful leader can only be as successful as his team.
    Just my .02 worth,
    thanks, Mike

  2. miket

    December 16, 2008 - 10:16 am

    6 Blog

  3. Jeremy Garner

    December 16, 2008 - 2:35 pm

    I think “emotional intelligence” or the art of being personable is often times overlooked in effective leadership. It is often times hard to find driven, determined leaders who don’t have to develop people skills. Then again leaders who are generously gifted with charisma often have to develop the assertive, focus element of thier temparment. Most leaders don’t rise to prominence on charm alone but people don’t usually care what you say if they don’t know you care. I’m not trying to talk in circles but there are two sides of the leadership coin. What do you think?

  4. Owen Berkeley-Hill

    December 26, 2008 - 8:35 am

    Hi Ron,
    May I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a happy New year.
    I agree with everything said in this string, but I would suggest “Hustle” in moderation. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, and I have seen good intentions being distorted by those who misunderstood them or have an interest in doing so. That distortion will then lead to dysfunctional behaviour. For example, hustling because the CEO says hustle, and it is not Company policy (particularly in an organisation built on “Command & Control”) will have people looking busy through fear. In this environment Hustling could also lead to less thinking (your 5th characteristic). I remember leaders being glib at when they said, “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions!”. Did it have the right impact or did it have the workforce lowering their heads below the parapet?
    I am reminded of the old-fashioned temperature gauge and its warning that things run (relatively) smoothly in moderation, not when the temperature is at either end of the scale.

  5. nadereh compani

    July 7, 2009 - 10:26 pm

    you’ve said it nicely

  6. jeremyross

    September 22, 2009 - 11:55 am

    you got to be smart and aggresive at the same time nice

  7. John Chepkwony

    July 7, 2011 - 10:27 am

    Hi Ron,

    I agree with your view of what success entails. The points form a strong foundation to achieving set goals.The hustle aspect has to be in moderation (controlled) to avoid loosing a balance in other societal areas of life.

  8. Art Stewart

    July 7, 2011 - 11:39 am

    I believe in everything you talked about, except you spoke counter to the 4-day work week envy. If that is possible under the hustle and dedication you espouse, then that may be harder and smarter that 5/6/7-day work week warrior. Does LSS believe that is not possible? I would like to see your ideas about telework and lean six. My organization just covened a telework tiger team because over 80% of personnel have expressed interest in telework, and because DoD have made it a high interest policy item. Will continue to read many of your posts. Thanks!

    • Ron Pereira

      July 7, 2011 - 11:48 am

      Hi Art, I actually spoke counter to the 4 hour (not day) work week made popular by Tim Ferris’ book… I have no problems with the principles Ferris teaches but most people seem drawn to it as a way of not having to hustle and work hard. I promise you Tim Ferris works FAR more than 4 hours a week.

      As far as telework… sounds great and I fully support it. It’s working smarter which is fantastic and should result in increased productivity. But if the idea is to simply work less it’s my personal opinion that it’s a slippery sloap headed to lackluster results over the long haul.

  9. Zarah Jordan

    August 13, 2011 - 9:58 am

    Hi Ron:

    I was googling the characteristics of a successful person and came across your site. I read about the info in five other sites before I got to yours. I absolutely love yours because it spoke to me. The others listed stuff that I am already doing but I don’t feel successful and I feel like they didn’t quite hit the nail on the head. You did.
    1. Hustle – I am comfortable, so I don’t hustle. If I truly want the success that I “think” I want, I will have to learn to hustle, you have to be a little bit hungry.
    2. Get things done – I used to be more motivated, I’m blaming my lack of motivation on my hormones.
    3. Do what you say, and say what you do – Sometime I do, sometimes I don’t and I hope that no body will call me out, thought I know that if they did, I’d do what I say I’ll do. I shouldn’t have to wait on anybody, it should be innate.
    4. Fail Better – Well I’m afraid of failing, the thought of failing keeps me stuck
    5. Think – I have no issues with this one. I’m a thinking but not much of a doer.
    Thank you so much for your list. I love it, and I will definately work with it

    • Ron Pereira

      August 13, 2011 - 10:03 am

      I am glad you liked it, Zarah. Thanks for checking in and I hope you’ll subscribe to future articles. All the very best to you!

  10. Dean

    April 10, 2012 - 8:30 pm

    Hello Ron,

    Just came across this article and for the most part I like it because it is simple and it gets to the point very quickly. I do agree to a huge degree with all 5 characteristics; however, I just think that this article is limited in that it lacks clarity about success and what it means.

    In my experience success means different things to different people which means that at its core many people are looking for a foundation or principles of success people so they can emulate the same in whatever capacity they choose to create their own success. I would love to see you follow up this article with a more in-depth look at success from a principle based standpoint.

    Just this humble man’s opinion of course. Please keep up the good work… we need you!


  11. Anonymous

    May 1, 2012 - 8:22 am

    Hello Ron

    It just stuck my mind and so I am here and have read your articles on 5 characteristics of a successful person. Very well written in point forms and easy to understand. Does it means people are successful in the area of work means they are happy and have gained lots of support from colleagues? It takes a person’s attitude and personality to break through barriers and obstacles in the area of work isn’t?

    How do you break those barriers to get what you desire?

    • Dean

      May 1, 2012 - 6:32 pm

      Hello Anonymous,

      To put it simply, there are no barriers except for the ones we create in our minds; it’s our perception that blocks us. You see when you do what you love and what you love brings value to the lives of others in true service, anything is possible. It may sound lofty to most’; however, this has been my experience and also the story of others who are truly successful.

      Success may mean different things to different people; however, at the end of the day success has underlying commonalities such as, YOU are happy in what you do and you make others better for it… not to mention you enjoy prosperity in all areas of your life because you have the courage to pursue your true purpose no matter what.

      That’s my 2 cents here. Ron I hope you don’t mind that i replied.


Have something to say?

Leave your comment and let's talk!

Start your Lean & Six Sigma training today.