If we look at a few more traits: boldness, self-confidence, innovative, someone who thrives on challenge and possesses independence of judgement, a picture emerges of someone likely to be a hero. But those very traits can also lead to opportunities for big mistakes, often in the public eye.
"You're simply so attractive; you're a person of accomplishment and success, you're charismatic, and when a risk-taking personality meets opportunity, sometimes things happen," Farley said, adding that in the Petraeus case, both partners in the affair seemed to have risk-taking traits.
Some believe there's an element of self-sabotage involved.
"Life is not about where you think you're going; it's about the experiences you get along the way," said Cris Baker, author of "Self-Sabotage: What It Is, Why We Do It, When We Do It, How to Overcome It."
"The experiences you might want to have are complete experiences and they're only complete wen you know them from all sides and aspects. You can't get to completion without knowing what commitment is unless you also experience breaking it. Petraeus is, or was, one of the most powerful men in America, and maybe on of the experiences he wants is to become powerful and see what it's like to lose that. It's the self-sabotage mechanism. We all have one; we've all been tempted."