The Personality Trait You Need for Success

Gather ’round, kiddies. It’s Amazing Research Time. Here’s the lowdown on what we all need for success…and, yeppers, in our personal experience it just happens to be the most difficult thing in life to develop if you wait till your an adult. (Well, maybe we can pass it down to our kids anyway.)

We have no idea what this pic means, but we love it.
We have no idea what this pic means, but we love it.

by Drake Baer

The only major personality trait that consistently leads to success is conscientiousness.

“It’s emerging as one of the primary dimensions of successful functioning across the lifespan,” Paul Tough writes in How Children Succeed. “It really goes cradle to grave in terms of how people do.”

Tough says that people who test high in conscientiousness get better grades in school and college, commit fewer crimes, and stay married longer.

They live longer, too, he says. And not just because they smoke and drink less. They have fewer strokes, lower blood pressure, and a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

There’s a staggering amount of research linking conscientiousness with success. A National Institute of Mental Health study found that conscientious men earn higher salaries. The National Institute on Aging also found that conscientiousness is linked to income and job satisfactionOther studies show that conscientiousness is the most important factor for finding and retaining employment.

How do you know if you’re conscientious? Conscientious people tend to be super organized, responsible, and plan ahead. They work hard in the face of challenges and can control their impulses.

Psychologists classify conscientiousness is one of the “Big 5” personality traits, with the others being agreeableness, extroversion, neuroticism, and openness to experience. The other traits can predict certain workplace outcomes–extroversion is a great fit for highly social gigs like sales and openness to experience often leads to creativity–but conscientiousness is remarkable for the way it cuts across roles.

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