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The #1 Personality Trait that’s the Key to Success: Conscientiousness

I’ve always been interested in learning what makes other people successful, and what makes them tick.

I hear a lot of words being thrown around to describe these people:





….but it never really fits every successful person to their core. There are some who are fearless and risk-taking, and others who abhorred risk.

Then I read: How children succeed by Paul Tough:

…where Tough states that the #1 personality trait present in successful people is being conscientious.

That means you are efficient, organized, neat and systematic.

I should also mention that people who are really conscientious even as kids, may only succeed in such rigid school systems that deem you are a success based on your grades for instance.

That said, there are other outliers who succeed outside of such educational systems (some not ever having been able to hack it), but they are always conscientious about their work — which was their passion.

Being conscientious doesn’t have to only apply to a school setting.

Anyway, when I read that, I groaned because I am not 100% any of those things, even though I try my hardest. It may SEEM like I am on the outside, but if I were to really judge myself honestly, I’d be about at the level of 75%.

I’ve always thought that I had at least 25% more left to improve in that area.

Someone whom I consider extremely conscientious is BF. He could have been born a German, he is so stereotypically so in personality!

Then it hit me — the one thing he does admit is a failing of his, is that he cannot be creative and imaginative, and that, is my missing 25%.

I can’t be 100% efficient because I have a few loose screws that help my creativity and imagination. I’m not rigid in my thought or my process, and that’s how I sometimes find those unorthodox solutions to the tough problems.

With that, I’m happy with my mix.

Conscientious or Imaginative? What percentage would you like of each?


  • MelD

    Although interesting, I think there are too many variables.
    And anyway, being a little pedantic, I wonder how “success” is defined… that can vary immensely, too! Money, status? Personally, I find those sad, but give me someone who lives life to the full whatever (or despite) their income… We all define it differently, don’t we?

    My husband has always prided himself on his ability to multitask and see all kinds of angles at the same time – now he has heard about ADD/ADHD, he figures that may well have been his “problem” as a child, and yet it was to his advantage in the business world over the straight thinkers. It rather depends on what spin you put on a particular characteristic.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      How brilliant of him to use what is considered to us a “disability” to his advantage. It made him more creative, perhaps! He embraced it rather than letting it rule his life and forcing it under “control” with drugs.

  • maria@moneyprinciple

    I am on the imaginative side, I have to say. To cope with the lack of discipline and the fact that I am nearly hopeless finisher, I had to develop routines and trick myself in following them. Anchoring helped. But yes, a lot of research shows that to succeed one ought to continue trying.

  • cj

    I am absolutely shocked, given this article’s info and the people I have met, that there aren’t far fewer successful people in this world. Perhaps there are far fewer than I perceive and then this article makes perfect sense. Have a nifty one, Mochimac!!!

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