Personal Development

The Top 7 Traits of Unsuccessful People

Expertise: Commercial Real Estate, Personal Finance, Real Estate Marketing, Business Management, Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics, Personal Development, Real Estate News & Commentary, Mortgages & Creative Financing
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Succeed or fail—it’s all about habits and mindset. Not only is it good to learn from those achieving on high levels, but it can be even more beneficial to study the people who “failed” and understand the reasons why. Watch out for these common traits of the unsuccessful.

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If you know what successful people do differently, it may make it easier to adopt winning habits so you can be successful, too!

The Top 7 Traits of Unsuccessful People

1. They’re sometimes unethical.

Unethical people all eventually fail. It may not seem like it right now, but it’s true. Whether it is presidents, CEOs of billion dollar startups, or real estate investors and agents, a lack of ethics will catch up in the end. When they crash, they crash really hard. Just ask Bernie Madoff.

It’s just not worth scamming others, doing dirty business, or taking illegal shortcuts. That’s just short-sighted. If you want to be in a great position in five and 10 years from now, keep your eyes on the long game. Put the blinders on, ignore other people’s fake successes, and play the race that matters.

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Related: The #1 Key to Success According to a Self-Made Real Estate Billionaire

2. They embrace the scarcity mindset.

This typically leads to number one on the list. Some people operate out of a mindset of scarcity. That leads them to act greedily. They believe they have to take things from others in order to get ahead.

Successful people are those who are generous and believe there is an abundance in the marketplace. They share their ideas, time, and experience.

Even as the market heats up, there are still plenty of deals in each market. Waiting until another market dip can keep you on the sidelines, missing many opportunities.

3. They may complain and attempt to shift blame.

Some people always have someone else to blame and something to complain about. They are always the victim. You can’t constantly play that card and expect to succeed. Life does happen. People will do you wrong. Things are not fair. Maybe it’s hard. Still, the successful take accountability. The most accountable are the most successful. They know that succeeding is up to them.

No matter what’s happened or what you’ve got to work with, you can take some positive steps in the right direction—even if it is reading a few more blog posts to learn something.

4. They stop learning.

After school, most people think the learning is over. In reality, it’s just the opposite. If you want to keep getting better results, you’ve got to keep trying new things—and that requires learning. Even once you are on top, you have to keep learning if you want to stay there. The average CEO reads 50-plus books a year. The average person reads less than five. Do the math. If the only thing you can do to change your circumstances is read, do that.

5. They’re quick to give up.

You only fail when you quit. Some people quit trying altogether. Others just quit at one thing after another. They quit at direct mail campaigns, wholesaling, trying to make smart investments, and cultivating relationships. They quit far too soon to see the good results coming.

Everyone faces the same challenges. The winners are those who stick it out and keep trying when everyone else quits.



Related: I Asked Landlords for Their Best Tips: Here Are 6 Recurring Secrets to Success

6. They engage in negative self-talk.

Some people are always negative. They thrive on negativity. In contrast, the successful are very intentional with their thoughts and words. They have hard days, too—but they know that thoughts become words, words become actions, and actions become results.

A hack I use is not watching the news. It is constantly negative and mentally draining. Using this hack alone will help cut out a good amount of negativity throughout your day.

What do you spend your time thinking and speaking about?

7. They lack focus.

You can’t stay on the path to success for long if you lack focus. Some can’t stick with things and are reactionary. They let the world dictate their lives. The successful stay focused and choose their own schedules and agendas.

Summary

There are clear differences in the habits and mindsets of the most successful people versus everyone else. These factors are more important than whether you went to college, where you were born and grew up, your IQ, and how much money you have right now.

What’s great is that almost anything is within your power to change. We can adopt the traits of the successful anytime we want.

What traits would you add to this list?

Comment!

Sterling is an multifamily investor specializing in value-add apartments in Indianapolis and other Midwestern markets. With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling w...
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    Laura Verderber from Fairhope, AL
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Great article. I only have two properties so hopefully I’ve still got a while with the bank. Question, do you mean a limit of 10 loans per bank or 10 loans total, no matter how many banks you use?
    John Barnette Investor from San Francisco, California
    Replied about 2 years ago
    You can hit a total.of 10 financed properties and still be within Freddie Mac guidelines. Fannie Mae caps at 4. 11 and up and it goes to portfolio lenders , often with investor backing. I also learned last year while attempting cash out refi’s on multiple investment properties that you are curtailed at 4 I believe. So I had to establish a relationship with a great bank lender for some nice portfolio products. Of course they want solid credit quality, low loan to value, and cash flowing property too.
    Susan Maneck Investor from Jackson, Mississippi
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Do you know whether first-place HELOCs count towards the four properties Fannie Mae allows? Right now I have two conventional mortgages and three first-place HELOCS. Have I passed my limit?
    Dave Van Horn Fund Manager from Berwyn, PA
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Hi Susan, If you visit a lender that you get pre-qualified with, they should let you know that status up front (without paying a mortgage app fee). Best, Dave
    Dave Van Horn Fund Manager from Berwyn, PA
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Thanks Laura! John’s answer below sounds correct.
    David Krulac from Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Great article Dave. I’ve also had over 50 mortgages. One little trick on the Fannie/Freddie 10 mortgage limit is to get your ten residential mortgages, AND have your spouse/significant other get ten MORE mortgages in their name. After you get your TWENTY residential mortgages, then you can look at portfolio lenders. I’ve belonged to many Credit Unions, several of which do portfolio mortgages where they don’t sell on the secondary market to Fannie/Freddie and keep the mortgages in house. Another Credit Union product is the Signature Loan, an unsecured line of credit based on your signature alone; some of these can be as high as $75,000 and make great sources of down payments, and rehab expenses. Once approved you get the money from the teller as if coming from your own account. I’ve borrowed and paid back numerous times, and it was a big aid in my real estate investing career of buying and selling over 900 properties. See you in April at the Mid Atlantic Summit in Philadelphia.
    Dave Van Horn Fund Manager from Berwyn, PA
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Hey David, Great point about the ten mortgages each! I did that with my spouse as well. Also like the idea of the Signature Loan as well! But sometimes I believe they could require to see your finances every year to re-qualify which could be an issue for some investors. And look forward to seeing you at the Summit as well! Best, Dave
    Karen Rittenhouse Flipper/Rehabber from Greensboro, NC
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Really helpful article, Dave. The more business an investor is doing, the more money sources they will need. Anyone who’s been doing this long term has probably used all of the options you discussed. And, even if an investor is not doing a lot now, they need to seek out all of these sources so funding is always available when they need it! Never miss a deal due to lack of funding! I’ve used everything you mention and am now a hard money lender. If an investor has a great deal, they can always find the money!
    Dave Van Horn Fund Manager from Berwyn, PA
    Replied about 2 years ago
    That’s right Karen! Thanks for reading! Best, Dave
    Marina Spor Investor from Buena Park, California
    Replied about 2 years ago
    There are a number of crowd funding platforms that will lend for fix and flip projects or those that may be refinanced after a year or so. Patch of Land and Peer Street are a couple of them. This is considered hard money and interest rates are high (est 8%-10%).
    Dave Van Horn Fund Manager from Berwyn, PA
    Replied about 2 years ago
    You’re absolutely right, Marina! Though crowdfunding financing can be similar to bank financing in terms of requirements.
    Chris Field Investor from Milford, Connecticut
    Replied about 2 years ago
    I have always done commercial, imho residential is more challenging. It seems to me it’s s lot less paperwork to get a few million commercial loan than a $200k residential.
    Dave Van Horn Fund Manager from Berwyn, PA
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Chris, I’ve done both and I think you’re right to a degree…but you’re also paying a higher rate, putting more money down, and it has the ability to recast. I also think depending on the type of commercial property, this isn’t always the case. I invested in mobile home parks with bank financing and they had quite a daunting amount of paperwork. So I suppose it depends on the project on either side of the fence. Best, Dave
    Hamid Hotaki from Cary, North Carolina
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Dave and David, Thank you for the article and feedback! I financed all the loans and while closing the 10th loan, I asked my attorney and mortgage broker if I could start financing on my spouse’s name. They said no, because in NC it is recorded on both of our names… Seems like that trick you stated is state specific, would you agree? Regards, Hami
    Cindy Larsen Rental Property Investor from Lakewood, WA
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Sterling, Wow, great article. Great list of whalt NOT to do. I’d add They Don’t Value Other People. Some people are so focused on success, and on themselves and their own problems or concerns that they don’t take the time to build and maintain relationships. They may have great personal relationships with family and friends, but not treat other people as well. Making sure that intereactions with everyone you come into contact with are positive and friendly will go a long way to making you successful. I am not taking about being falsely friendly. Just about being yourself, and treating each person like they matter (because they do), whether it’s your barista, or the clerk at the planning department. This can be hard to do, because it is not only about your attitude and intention, it is about how you actually act. I am a multitasker, and am always thinking about a multitude of things. I can do this, and actually listen to the person I am talking to, and be reading a text message at the same time. But if I am not careful, I can appear distracted, and they may not think I am paying attention to them. So, I have to focus on body language that people read as listening, or they can think that I am not hearing them. Spending the time to be aware of people’s feelings ends up with a universe of people around you who are on your side. That is pleasant, but is also good business, and can help make you successful.
    Sterling White Rental Property Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Great suggestion. Thank you for the input, Cindy. The golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated!
    Jason Pinkerton Rental Property Investor from Tampa, FL
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I’ll add to that saying they don’t think win-win. Successful people think win-win. As to multitasking, it’s not actually possible, you’re merely switching from one task to the next in rapid succession, becoming less effective on all of them. As a frequent multitasker myself I have found that when I very specifically focus on one task even if it doesn’t take a lot of focus, I’m able to get much more done. I am still overcoming the habit of multitasking but I have noticed improvements since focusing on one thing at a time and not trying to get it all done at once. That one I actually took from Darren Hardy who learned it from some of the most successful people in the world (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet) and agencies like NASA. I can trust that, haha.
    Tom J. from Littleton, CO
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Good one, Sterling. Even positive, motivated people get caught up with item seven–a lack of focus. I believe setting priorities and maintaining focus is a learned skill to some degree. So we should constantly strive to develop our focus. Cheers!
    Sterling White Rental Property Investor from Indianapolis, IN
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Cheers to you. Valid point, Tom.
    Pearce Aurigemma Investor from Mountain View, California
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Great post. I would add one more. 8) They waste time on clickbait articles with titles similar to, “Top 10 things” or “Top 8 things”
    Wave Taylor from Baltimore, MD
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Great points. I can relate to a view.
    John Murray from Portland, Oregon
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Unsuccessful people lack self discipline, this is the biggest factor in failure. Most successful people will do 3 things early in life. These are 1. Graduate High School, 2. Serve in the military, 3. stay married. If a person can accomplish these 3 hallmarks success will almost be guaranteed. All have the common denominator of self discipline. The other factor is luck, you have luck too.
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Very good list! A “Stop doing” list is probably just as important as a “Start doing” one.
    Account Closed from Clovis, California
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Great list of what not to do to be successful. Thanks, Sterling. These are some of the things even a successful person overlook, so it is nice to be reminded of what we should not be doing to be able to keep that positive mind way of living.
    Johannes Schunter Investor from Greenwich, Connecticut
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Good write-up, and I honestly wish your list was accurate. Unfortunately, the world is not always as it should be. Our current president is the literal embodiment of traits 1-3, yet he made it to the very top despite them (or even because of them).
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, Missouri
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Very good article Dave!
    Dave Van Horn Fund Manager from Berwyn, PA
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Thanks Andrew!
    Josef Super from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Good content as usual Dave! I especially enjoy #5 and the concept of being the bank. Great option to consider if you have retirement funds to deploy and would like to diversify your portfolio by being on the other side of debt.
    Sophie Kapemb Makal
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Very important things not to forget!thank you very much
    Henry Kashkevych
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Procrastination/putting off until tomorrow that which is uncomfortable. tomorrow never comes.
    John Wright Real Estate Agent from Cincinnati, OH
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I think I might start a blog dedicated solely to the scarcity mindset of Millennials.