Some common characteristics of bold people include: having clear priorities, remaining firm about values, appearing arrogant at times, having a strong sense of self-confidence, believing in themselves and their ideas, taking pride in their accomplishments, being opinionated, and own their flaws as well as their successes.
Patrick (2018, p. 13) defines boldness as “tendencies toward social assertiveness, stress immunity, and venturesomeness, and theorized to reflect the expression of an underlying fearless temperament across different functional contexts.”
Whether boldness is a positive or negative trait is in the eye of the beholder. While some people respect a bold person’s assertiveness, others like Kennedy (2009) sees boldness as“unrealistic, out of range [and] … expecting too much from people.”
25 Characteristics of Bold People
- Being willing to have a go
- Not being afraid to fail
- Not being afraid of success
- Never thinking you’re not good enough
- Having a go at things even if you’ve never done it before
- Having clear priorities
- Being firm in your values
- A sense of self-control
- Sometimes appearing arrogant
- Sometimes appearing presumptuous
- Believing in yourself
- Taking pride in what you do
- Not being afraid of change
- Being opinionated and not worrying what others think of it!
- Willingness to ask for things
- Owning your flaws
- Owning your successes and being proud of them
- Sometimes appearing extraverted
- Being willing to make the first move
- Willingness to take on overwhelming tasks
- Betting on yourself even if it costs you your own money
- Being willing to embark on a journey even when you don’t know it will end
- Having integrity and standing firm on your principles
- Ability to control your fear and self-doubt
- Ability to commit to things
- Willingness to be vulnerable
- Having a big vision
- Not being afraid to take on a leadership role
- Ability to face up to risks
- Willingness to be the underdog
- Being an action taker
Stereotypical Traits of Bold People
(Note that these are stereotypes only).
1. Clarity About Their Priorities
You may notice that a lot of bold people know what they want and when they want it. This goes for big things like life goals, all the way down to something as simple as what they want to complete at work on a given day.
This is because boldness often means that you’re not afraid to set goals. You’re less likely to waiver or equivocate because you’re firm in your beliefs. You’re a little more immune to risk and threats than others, so you’re less likely to worry about knowing what you want and going for it.
2. Uncompromising Values
Just as bold people are firm in their priorities, they are also often firm in their values. Bold people tend to be assertive, so they are less likely to compromise or change their ideas to please others.
Once a bold person has decided on what their values are in life, they may become an important part of how they live day to day. If someone tries to push a bold person away from their values, the bold person is unlikely back down. They will boldly stick by what they believe.
However, this doesn’t negate the fact that some people have poor values. For example, most people would agree that a con artist is bold, but also lacking in scruples.
3. Appearance of Arrogance
Because bold people are so sure of themselves and so comfortable in their own skin, they can oftentimes appear to be arrogant.
This may, however, be a mischaracterization of confidence. (In fact, I would like to see a study of how much confidence and arrogance overlap in personality types).
Arrogance means being cocky about something, almost to a demeaning degree, but confidence is something different altogether. The confidence found in many bold people is just a reflection of how sure they are of themselves and the choices they make.
4. Strong Sense of Self-Confidence
When people accuse a bold person of being brash or arrogant, it’s usually because they’re mistaking their positive self-confidence for a more negative characteristic. In reality, self-confidence is one of the best traits a person can have, and it can help a bold person live the life they want to live.
Since bold people are more immune to equivocation than most of us, it’s easy for them to have self-confidence. Life seems more black-and-white, and less intimidating.
By contrast, when people are prone to uncertainty, it can eat away at this important confidence, and make someone appear meek instead of bold.
5. Belief In Themselves and Their Ideas
Bold people aren’t simply confident in themselves; they also often appear to believe more fully in their ideas and the things they wish to accomplish.
This goes back to one of their core traits: high risk tolerance. They are less likely to allow society to sway them from believing in themselves and their ideas.
Believing in themselves is something that bold people are amazing at, and this lends itself well to the characteristic of believing in their own abilities to complete a difficult task.
We can see these traits in some of the most successful entrepreneurs, from Elon Musk to Jeff Bezos. All of them have boldness in spades, and it was necessary in order for them to have a go at their outlandish ideas, like starting Amazon and scaling Tesla.
When we come across an intrepid traveler who walks off the beaten path, we often remark: “you’re so bold!”
Here, we’re acknowledging that travel off the beaten path requires the traits of a bold person: willingness to try new things, take risks, handle perceived stressful situations, and venture off on your own path.
7. Bold People Aren’t Afraid of Change
Change can be scary for a lot of people, but bold people may actually be excited by it. This is because bold people tend to have less fear of change, and may actually look forward to something new.
Introverts, for example, usually value the comfort of routine. Bold people, on the other hand, are more immune to the stress and discomfort of trying something new. As a result, they may be interpreted as extroverts by others and also seen as all too willing to forego comfort in exchange for excitement.
8. Strong Opinions
Bold people aren’t afraid to tell the world how they feel about something, and while being overly opinionated can be interpreted as a bad thing at times, it can also be seen as a necessity to effect change in the world.
It’s likely that bold people are no more opinionated than others. Likely, shy people are equally opinionated and also have well-established value sets. The perceived opinionated nature of bold people stems from the fact that they may be more likely to express their opinions out loud due to their higher tolerance for risk and judgement.
9. Owningtheir Flaws as Well as Their Successes
Something else that makes bold people stand out is that they may be brave enough to speak about their flaws and successes.
Whereas a shy person may feel intimidated about speaking up about their flaws or self-conscious of boasting about their success, a bold person has the fortunate characteristic of social assertiveness.
Part of being bold is the ability to face everything head on (remembering that a core feature of boldness is tolerance for stressful situations), and that includes facing up to negative things about themselves.
By expressing and accepting these flaws, bold people may be at an advantage because they can address their flaws, so long as other personality traits such as narcissism don’t take hold.
10. Unrealistic Self-Belief
Whereas many of the above perceptions about bold people are framed as positives, we can also interpret boldness as a negative trait.
Indeed, boldness may lead to very unrealistic goals and sense of self. For example, a bold person may pursue a new business venture that is high-risk and unlikely to succeed. To pursue this, you have to have a bold personality.
This appearance that they lackrealism may mean bold people can have a hard time convincing others to buy into their ideas, invest in their businesses, or go along with their adventures.
There are a lot of characteristics that make up a bold personality, and the ones we have described above are only a few of them. And indeed, many of the above examples are perceptions just as much as they are reality. Shy people may share many of these traits (e.g. they may also be adventurous in their own ways!), but their lack of assertiveness in social situations hides these traits more.
Kennedy, M. M. (2010). Against boldness. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 16-20.
Patrick, C. J. (2018). Psychopathology as masked pathology. In C. Patrick (Eds.). Handbook of Psychopathology.New York: The Guilford Press.
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]