13 Underappreciated Traits You Absolutely Need to Succeed

UPDATED: July 7, 2020
PUBLISHED: January 31, 2017

Picture the most successful person you know. What is it about them that you admire the most? What characteristics do they have that you really respect? Is it their confidence? Their intelligence? Or maybe it’s their work ethic?

But what about the things you might not notice at first glance? Like an insatiable hunger, gratitude or patience? Often it’s the traits that fly under the radar that can have the biggest impact on your ability to achieve.

Related: 8 Traits You Need to Be Successful (Your IQ Isn’t One of Them)

We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council which of these underappreciated traits they value the most. Because even though they’re not as “loud,” they’re absolutely necessary to succeed.

1. Mindfulness

It’s easy to get lost in the grind and miss out on many things in the demanding environment that comes with entrepreneurship. I deliberately and regularly make time to reflect on past successes and failures, which opens my mind up to different possibilities. There’s a lesson in every outcome in our lives and discovering them makes us grow.

—Turgay Birand, EditionGuard

2. Solid Speaking Skills

I was an active member of my high school debate team for all four years. The extracurricular helped me become more articulate, logical and overall a better public speaker. These skills have played a critical role in my development into the business leader I am today.

—Paul Hager, Information Technology Professionals

3. Insatiability

I’m a naturally insatiable person when it comes to learning and growth. This leads to being open to new ideas, asking questions and ingesting endless amounts of new content. All of this leads toward success, as one new piece of knowledge builds on another and sparks of curiosity create new valuable relationships. It also results in a constant drive to dissect and improve my business.

—Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40

4. Decisiveness

The most successful leaders recognize they do not have time to get all of the facts for the dozens of decisions they make each day. Instead, they just need to gather enough information to make sound decisions so the company can move forward. Some of those decisions will be wrong, but it’s better to learn from those mistakes and try again than to be immobilized by indecisiveness.

—Doug Bend, Bend Law Group, PC

5. Consistency

I think my biggest key to success—and the thing I tell others who are starting businesses—is to be consistent. Growing a business is hard, but you have to keep at it week after week and month after month. I’ve blogged almost every single week for the past seven years, and I truly attribute the fact that I’ve approached my business that way as one of the reasons for my success.

—Sean Ogle, Location Rebel

6. Coachability

Pretty much anyone can take feedback at a surface level, but actually evaluating criticism and learning from it is a rare trait. After all, feedback is incredibly personal and it can cause severe damage to your ego. Rather than nodding to harsh feedback, I learned from the best by really taking their advice to heart and separating my self-worth from my ability to have valuable learning experiences.

—Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital

7. Honesty

People appreciate my emphasis on honesty. It’s surprising really, given all the people who don’t focus on it, but honesty is still highly valued among customers who are seeking that authentic experience. Even if it means telling a customer “I can’t do something,” I’d rather be honest and let them know. They appreciate that and come back when I can help them.

—Drew Hendricks, Buttercup

8. Calmness

I have always been a very laid-back person (sometimes to a fault). In my business, I often find myself in the middle of stressful and complex deals. By staying calm, I’m able to see things more objectively and not allow the stress of the deal to force a bad decision.

—Mark Daoust, Quiet Light Brokerage, Inc.

9. Patience

I see people rush things all the time because they have that need for immediate results. But I’ve learned that slow and steady can win the race because patience often leads to better results. You are not pushing people or situations, but letting them occur naturally, which also helps me determine in advance if the moves are smart and whether I’ve covered all my bases.

—Andrew O’Connor, American Addiction Centers

10. Gratitude

There are many successful people who aren’t happy. My perspective is that gratitude is the thing that keeps you centered. Every day, I begin by writing down things I’m grateful for, and I make it a point to give gifts to people I feel grateful to. It makes them feel good, makes me feel good and keeps life centered.

—Adam Steele, The Magistrate

11. Ability to Read People

An underrated trait that I can easily attribute my success to is being able to read people. Having the ability to pick up on different people’s personalities can be extremely beneficial when interacting with them. Everyone has a different style of communicating and being able to notice that and adjust to fit their style has been key for my developing strong, long-lasting relationships.

—Bryanne Lawless, BLND Public Relations

12. Hunger and Humility

When I started my company, I was in debt. I had nothing and it made me hungry. I realized I had to go after a client that had money. This is what helped me build a multimillion-dollar success from very little capital. Being hungry and humble allows us to focus on what truly matters.

—Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors, LLC

13. Vulnerability

My whole product line started from me building my own community. I built that community on YouTube, where I’m authentic, real, vulnerable and available to my followers. I read comments, connect with them, tell them my problems and give them an honest review. The only reason I was able to launch my product line is because I had a community of people who really trust me.

Related: 10 Little Things Successful People Do Differently

—Daisy Jing, Banish

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.