Intelligence is no longer the main predictor of success. While IQ still carries a lot of weight, personality traits play a much bigger role.
According to a 2016 research paper from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, grades and achievement tests capture personality traits that are generally more predictive than IQ for several important life outcomes, like income and self-reported life satisfaction.
Personality is also considered by employers. They use behavioral assessments and personality tests to prioritize candidates and predict if their behavior is a good fit.
Even college admissions professionals are looking at a candidate’s personality. In fact, KudosWall conducted a survey of 500 academic admissions professionals between November 13 and November 28, 2017. The research found that 86 percent say an applicant’s personality and character skills assessments play a big role in the admissions process.
There is good news: while there is no evidence suggesting you can change your personality, there is anecdotal evidence that shows you can change how you behave. For example, people who are dissatisfied with their friendships tend to put themselves in situations where they can increase in extroversion.
There is no right or wrong personality type, but there are personality traits and character skills that are beneficial. Here’s a look at some of the traits and skills that influence performance in personal and professional development.
Self-Discipline Yields a Healthy Body and Mind
Your level of self-discipline determines your ability to achieve goals. When you’re disciplined, you’re able to control feelings, overcome weaknesses, and pursue goals despite temptations that can hold you back.
People with high levels of self-discipline are better at sticking to healthy habits, like eating right and exercising. If this personality trait isn’t natural, you can start making changes to develop it.
Look at areas in your life in which you want to make improvements, such as your career, nutrition, social needs, fitness, and more. Determine your big ‘why’ for each goal. When you have a reason bigger than yourself, like living longer or feeling more fulfilled in your work, your motivation will be consistent.
Then, create an action plan that includes specific goals and track your progress. If you’re working on meeting your social needs, start with action (attending one meetup per week), track your progress (number of meetups attended), and reflect on the outcome (mood changes and the feeling of social needs being met). As you make progress, you’ll learn how to stay on course with goal-driven approaches.
Organizational Skills Hone Your Vision
When you think of highly organized professionals, you imagine meticulously clean work spaces and detailed planners. They have color-coded calendars and are fully engaged in their work.
This skill set falls under the big five personality type called conscientiousness. Those with this personality trait are typically considered reliable and dependable. They stand out because they’re directed by what matters most to them. They’re not scrolling social media when they should be preparing for a meeting. They follow a routine that helps them see their priorities and work on them first.
Build these organizational skills by focusing on one day at a time. Start by using checklists during your work day. Then, learn how to prioritize your daily tasks. Give yourself 15 minutes at the beginning of the day to schedule your time, then use 15 minutes at the end of the day to plan for tomorrow.
Optimism is Positivity in Action
If you see the glass as half-empty, you’re going to struggle with facing challenges and overcoming setbacks in your personal and professional life. Optimism – the other side of the coin – is your ability to feel hopeful and confident about your future. This positive outlook is often harder to come by. However, it can actually be programmed with consistent practice.
Start developing optimism by practicing mindfulness. For example, start meditating, mindful walking, and consider enrolling in a mindfulness training program. When you cultivate a present mind, you’re able to allow negative thought patterns to come and go. In other words, you’re training yourself to regulate your emotions, both good and bad.
Combine this practice with visualization. Some of the best athletes in the world use visualization tactics to get into the right mindset. When you visualize a successful presentation or earning a big client deal, you feel more confident in your future.
Strategic Creativity Resonates With Others
Creative people are typically curious, imaginative, and expressive. However, depending on their ability to read an audience, they can get into trouble.
Some people might interpret their expressiveness as risky and divisive, which is why it’s important to be strategic in creative pursuits.
Creativity remains a top skill in the eyes of leaders everywhere. For example, our survey found that creativity is a favored personality trait in online portfolios, college resumes, admissions essays, and online presences for students applying to college admissions. Similarly, the World Economic Forum January 2016 survey found that the ability to think creativity will be one of the most important work skills by 2020 and this is particularly true for high-performing leaders.
Learn how to feed your creativity by getting your thoughts out on paper. Start a journal to reflect on your day. The practice of writing, distilling information, and expressing yourself is a great way to get your creative muscles working. Then, practice expressing yourself to different audiences by creating content on a blog or podcast. You can even make it fun by covering topics you love.
Outgoingness Boosts Your Social Capital
Being socially confident and building relationships in social settings is where extroverts thrive. In fact, extroversion is a great asset in several areas of life.
The KudosWall survey found that 71 percent of admissions professionals say they’re more likely to accept applicants who convey an outgoing, friendly personality than someone who is reserved. Also, a January 2016 study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior found that extroverts tend to energize the group when team members are getting along.
When you demonstrate social capital and engage well with others, you make a great impression. However, introverts find outgoingness challenging because social situations often drain their energy. Fortunately, this personality trait can be learned. Shift your focus from yourself to others around you. When you’re worried about how you present yourself, it takes you out of the moment. Instead, concentrate on getting to know people in your social setting. Start small by going to new events with people you know.
Intelligence gets you far, but these personality traits bring you the extra mile. If you already possess them, double down. But if they don’t come naturally, start practicing. This shift in your behavior will lead to big success in all aspects of your life.