The Great Man Theory is the idea that history can be explained by the impact of great men or women that used their success to alter the course of history. This article will take a look at some of these prominent individuals and examine their shared character traits.
What are the traits that set these highly successful people apart from the rest of us? Can we embody these traits to achieve a higher degree of success in life, or even even perhaps change the course of history?
In this article, success is defined as: Visionaries who achieve their aim and alter the course of history by contributing to humanity in a significant way. This list of traits was derived by analyzing a large selection of quotes and writings from highly influential individuals. This list includes; Steve Jobs, Queen Elizabeth I, Nelson Mandela, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Harriet Tubman, Albert Einstein, John Lennon, Nietzsche, King Solomon and many more.
Here are the 11 Characteristics of Highly Successful People:
You can’t find treasure if you don’t believe it’s there. If you didn’t, why would you look for it in the first place?
In our analysis, Faith stood apart as the most important component of success. All of our subjects exhibited a high degree of faith during their lives. This isn’t necessarily a faith in the religious sense, rather an assuredness that their dreams and visions (no matter how grand) would come true.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” — Harriet Tubman
All of the successful people in this study exhibited an exceptional ability at living in tune with their Intuition. This intuition was expressed as a deep calling towards something more. Often times, in terms of decision making, our subjects trusted their intuition more so than the opinions of others. This is how ground breaking ideas and inventions surfaced.
“If the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Without Persistence, the previous two factors of success (Faith, and Intuition) cannot sustain an effective trajectory towards success. The difference between the average person and the highly successful person, is that the successful person never gives up, no matter what! They Persist! Even if their lives are on the line. Often, during times of trial, our subjects provided themselves with no choice, it was either success or death! This is by no means an average trait.
“Though the sex to which I belong is considered weak you will nevertheless find me a rock that bends to no wind.” — Queen Elizabeth I
A high degree of intelligence was noted as a commonly held trait amongst highly successful individuals. This intelligence is not generalized as a specific ability, but rather a capability to learn, adapt to, and master the challenges involved in their role.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” — Albert Einstein
Unwavering Courage is necessary for conquering challenges in life. Whether this courage is needed during a time of social rejection or a confrontation with death, it is a vitally important ingredient towards achieving success.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
— Winston Churchill
The majority of the individuals we studied had a clear vision of their end goal. Whether they were creatives or conquerors, they all seemed to express clear ideas early on in their careers of what they wanted to accomplish. Visualization is a very close relative to Faith. If a Visualization is combined with the Faith that that vision can be attained, it becomes powerful, and often takes root in reality.
“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger
Even the darkest of our subjects displayed an intuitive wisdom. They were able to understand the inner workings of humanity. This wisdom often helped them make the best decisions, those that reap the greatest rewards from their actions. It is hard to say if this wisdom was innate, or came from experience. But either way, our subjects exhibited a capability for wisdom that was far higher than the average person.
“an action committed in anger is an action doomed to failure.” — Genghis Khan
8.) Awareness and Acceptance of Mortality
Most of our subjects tended to be highly aware that they would one day pass away, thus, they strove to leave an immortal legacy. This passion or awareness to leave a legacy was not always at the forefront of their lifestyles, but through studying quotes and books, it became obvious that in order to be truly successful, one must be aware of and accept their Mortality.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” — Steve Jobs
Once larger goals begin manifesting, it is necessary employ the help of others to sustain a goal’s trajectory. Not even Genghis Khan could have conquered as many lands as he did without the help of his army and counsel. And in order to be effective, it is important to have at least a moderate degree of leadership capability.
“Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.” —Walt Disney
10.) Passion for Craft
Maintaining endurance during a project can be difficult, especially when we come up against opposition. Many of us have had jobs where we didn’t feel any passion for the work. With jobs like this, it is nearly impossible to give 100% effort on tasks and yield worthwhile results. Although this may sound simple, if you mix love with work, great feats can be accomplished.
“Passion is the genesis of genius.” — Galileo Galilee
Individuality was a commonly expressed trait amongst highly successful. These individuals typically trusted their own feelings and intuitions more so than popular knowledge and opinions. Many of these highly successful individuals were seen as rebels to society, because they went against common thought and paradigms. And often times, these individuals were persecuted for their beliefs (whether these beliefs were backed by science or not).
“He who cannot obey himself will be commanded. That is the nature of living creatures.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
About this Article: This is study was constructed with the intent of summarizing the collectively shared traits of successful people, under our listed definition. We strove to collect an equally diverse sample of individuals in order to account for potential biases. This diversity was composed of these factors; time period, sex, ethnicity, occupation and historical impact. The quotes listed in this article do not account for all of the subjects who were studied. In order to come up with factors for success, we took a collection of quotes from our sample and labeled each quote with factoring letters. We then looked to find the most common factors to derive our list above. This article is not a complete study. It is not recommend for citation in academic research.