The Top 7 Traits of Unsuccessful People

The Top 7 Traits of Unsuccessful People

3 min read
Sterling White

Sterling White is a 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 was involved with the management of over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $18.9MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments. Through the company he founded, Sonder Investment Group, he owns just under 400 units.

Sterling is a seasoned real estate investor, philanthropist, speaker, host, mentor, and former world record attemptee, who was born and raised in Indianapolis. He is the author of the renowned book From Zero to 400 Units and the host of a phenomenal podcast, which hit the No. 1 spot on The Real Estate Experience Podcast‘s list of best shows in the investing category.

Living and breathing real estate since 2009, Sterling currently owns multiple businesses related to real estate, including Sterling White Enterprises, Sonder Investment Group, and other investment partnerships. Throughout the span of a decade, he has contributed to helping others become successful in the real estate industry. In addition, he has been directly involved with both buying and selling over 100 single family homes.

Sterling’s primary specialities include sales, marketing, crowdfunding, buy and hold investing, investment properties, and many more.

He was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast episode #308 and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single family investing and apartment investing to mindset and scaling a business online. He has been featured on multiple other podcasts, too.

When he isn’t immersed in the real world, Sterling likes reading motivational books, including Maverick Mindset by Doug Hall, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, and Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone.

As a thrill-seeker with an evident fear of heights, he somehow managed to jump off of a 65-foot cliff into deep water without flinching. (Okay, maybe a little bit…) Sterling is also an avid kale-eating traveller, but nothing is more important to him than family. His unusual habit is bird-watching, which he discovered he truly enjoyed during an Ornithology class from his college days.

Sterling attended the University of Indianapolis.

Instagram @sterlingwhiteofficial

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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.

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.


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.


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?