But there are also certain qualities that predict a lack of personal and professional fulfillment.
To pinpoint what those are, we looked through the Quora thread, “Which personality traits often lead to failure?,” and highlighted the most compelling responses.
If you happen to recognise some of these traits in yourself, don’t worry — you aren’t doomed to failure. Psychologists say that if you modify your behaviour, you can change unfavorable parts of your personality and develop healthier habits that put you on the path to success.
1. Having a fixed mindset
Psychologist Carol Dweck, Ph.D., came up with a theory of fixed versus growth mindsets. People who see their basic qualities as fixed believe that talent alone leads to success and that no matter how hard they work, they will never improve.
On the other hand, people who adopt a growth mindset believe those abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Ultimately, Dweck says people with a growth mindset are more successful because they’re resilient and willing to learn.
Quora user Gregory C. Lemon explains that idea further: “Fixed mindset people generally respond to achievement incentives — grades, scores, rewards — but when their success runs out, they have trouble adjusting. Growth mindset people, however, respond to process incentives — learning a new concept, making improvement at a task, etc. Growth mindset leads to sustained success.”
“Arrogance tells people you know everything; therefore, no one will offer to help you. You cannot be successful without getting help from others,” says Lilian Raji.
At work, people who are honest instead of arrogant when they don’t really have the answers may be more successful. The authors of popular book “Freakonomics” authors say that being able to admit you don’t know something — but are willing to find out — can ultimately make you look smarter.
3. Unwillingness to adapt
“Successful people are often very fast to adapt: They don’t hang on too long to a status quo. They are curious to challenge themselves, and are aware that most of what they believe is likely to be wrong. Those who are opinionated, overconfident, and unwilling to adapt will likely fail,” writes Pascal Zuta.
Adaptability is especially important for leaders because it’s a key part of “learning agility,” or a set of qualities that allows individuals to stay flexible and take on a diversity of challenges.
If you’re unwilling to change your perspective, you’ll never be able to tackle the problems facing you or your organisation.
4. Putting blame on others
“People who are successful always take responsibility for their actions, whether good or bad, right or wrong. They accept responsibility fully with no qualifications. Individuals who struggle always seem to find a way to place the blame on someone else,” writes Lemon.
Psychotherapist Amy Morin, L.C.S.W. agrees: She says that mentally strong people don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves. Instead, they acknowledge what went wrong and move on to the next challenge.
“Most of us can look back at failure and trace our biggest mistakes to poor impulse control,” says Richard DeBanks.
And while you may not be able to identify impulsiveness as the direct cause of your downfall, it might be an underlying factor. One of the most famous psychological experiments, known as “
the marshmallow test,” found that self-control is a major predictor of personal and professional success.
“Perfectionism translates to fear of failure, and it will lead to indecision and inaction,” writes Michael Ballai.
In other words, perfectionists often get so caught up in their past mistakes that they have a hard time moving on to new challenges.
Alice Boyes, Ph.D., says anxiety-related perfectionism can contribute to “getting intensely frustrated when results aren’t coming as quickly or consistently as you like.” And that frustration only makes it harder to push forward.
7. Poor planning
“I would suggest distaste for planning out a path to a realistic goal as the biggest trait” that contributes to failure, writes Pete Ashly.
In fact, psychological research suggests that individuals with clearly defined, written goals are more likely to succeed than those with more abstract ambitions. For example, they might plan to “lose five pounds” instead of simply “lose some weight,” so that they know exactly what achievement looks like.
8. Lack of self-awareness
One study found that a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success for business executives. That’s likely because self-aware leaders recognise their shortcomings and hire team members who are skilled in the areas they’re not.
On the other hand, says an anonymous Quora user, people who don’t know their relative strengths and weaknesses assume they’re good at everything: “The type of person who doesn’t know where they stand tends to overlook important factors and likely become arrogant.”
9. Inability to learn from mistakes
Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, says that his success is largely attributable to his ability to learn from mishaps: “Each mistake was probably a reflection of something that I was doing wrong, so if I could figure out what that was, I could learn how to be more successful.”
If you’re afraid to make mistakes, you obviously can’t learn from them. Writes Elisa Pasquali: “Mistakes are part of learning. People afraid to make mistakes can’t learn. Those who can’t learn new things won’t achieve much beyond what they currently are and can do.”
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