Why Your Personal Traits Matter More Than You Think 

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I was taught at many points in my childhood that character determines your fate. The common consensus is that nothing can be more true when it comes to your personal success and happiness. Ultimately, it’s not what you know or even how hard you work that determines your success – it’s who you are. If you look closely enough, most successful people in business — and any other field — have certain character traits in common. These include perseverance and an eye for opportunity, among others. 

You may have heard people say: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. While that’s partially true, it doesn’t take away from the importance of your own character traits. Your personal traits can be more important than knowledge or skill when it comes to determining your fate. Many successful people have impressive education and skill-sets, but they also understand that their success is partially due to their own personality traits and how they interact with others around them.

In literature, what makes up an individual character is the stuff that they are made of: the “good” and “evil” inside every one of us; these things define a character’s fate. These character traits are predetermined by the author, and it takes reading on to find out how these traits play out in the course of a story. But, in real life, you can do a lot of things to change your fate, from educational opportunities to career options. Ultimately, most of it comes down how hard you’re willing to work for what you want and the choices you’ve made. But, there’s a third factor at play, and that’s who you are as a person, which directly affects the other two factors.  

The truth is that some people have a better chance at attaining their goals and dreams because they were born into certain circumstances. They may come from backgrounds with higher incomes and more access to services beneficial to them. That’s not fair, but it’s still true. No one is going to pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they don’t have boots, after all. Sometimes you have to work hard to level out some of those inherent disparities in opportunity. But, also know that no matter what situation you start with, it’s still up to you whether or not things work out in life. 

Your behavior and personality do matter. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The most successful people understand how important it is to master their character, because they understand that without it they won’t even have a chance of succeeding in life. Achieving success in your career or business is really just a question of probability. 

The more consistent and reliable you are, the higher your probability of success becomes. This is simply because other people are more likely to be comfortable doing business with you, because of your own perceived comfort level with yourself. Successful people know that as soon as others begin to doubt their own character, all future progress becomes much harder. 

So, how can you improve on your own character? First off, the most important character trait anyone can have is learning how to take responsibility for your actions. If you make a mistake, admit it and learn from it. This will help avoid similar mistakes in the future and show others that despite your past transgressions, you’re a responsible person who doesn’t make excuses. At times, taking responsibility for our actions is uncomfortable. But by doing so, we let others know we have integrity. 

Another important character trait is our ability to let go of what we can’t control in order to focus on those things we can. This is something that I work on every single day. All too often we focus on what we can’t control in life, including outside possibilities like winning the lottery or getting a lucky career break. What we must do is forget about the infinitesimal chances of fortune smiling on us and create our own fortune by focusing on making one forward step at a time. 

We often overlook how important the little decisions we make day to day are to our success and happiness. But, how we make each decision affects how we make our next choice. You must have intention and purpose behind each choice you make. You also must be truthful in your dealings with both yourself and others, or you will lose focus and track of who you are and what you stand for in no time at all.

Thirdly, if you are viewed as an honest, kind person, that will afford you more chances to succeed than someone who’s perceived as rude and dishonest. Your character, especially in how it’s perceived, is what allows you to get more chances to make decisions that will be in your favor. Still, sometimes people will stand in your way, and many have stood in mine. So, your resolve and dedication to your goals must trump the perceptions of others. 

But, never lose sight of your truth and how you’ve gotten to this point. No one else knows exactly why you do what you choose to do, even if you try to explain it to them. You will gain more respect by not giving in to the whims of others, often selfish and not well-considered in hindsight, than by simply giving into peer pressure. Other times, you will lose friends and family over petty reasons that you simply will not honor. But it’s better to stand alone, and be true to yourself, than to give in and live a life of mediocrity.

At some point in our lives, each one of us will reach such a breaking point, at which we must make a decision that will change the course of our entire lives. How we approach that breaking point is inevitably what decides our fate. We must ask ourselves if we have what it takes to succeed by staying the course, jumping into a new endeavor, or just standing by and seeing where circumstances take us. 

None of us are perfect. But, those that can learn from past mistakes and be the best human beings that they can be are those that are best in control of their own fate. Character determines fate, as long as you don’t let the fate of things you can’t control determine your choices. I chose to create my own fate, even if it meant leaving those I once thought were my friends behind. 

~ Amelia Desertsong

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.
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