We all want to succeed. Whether it’s in starting our own business, learning a skill, or losing weight – for those of us who have tried and failed, success seems like a tough puzzle to solve. Why is it that one person succeeds where another person fails?
It’s hard to say that successful people work harder or are inherently smarter than their non-successful counterparts. After all, few people write stories about the hard-working losers.
What is true, however, is that successful people tend to have similar habits, and maybe by incorporating a few of these habits we can attempt to capture that lightning in a bottle.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”- Aristotle
Here are 4 important habits of highly successful people:
1) Wake up early
Yeah, this is a tough one. Waking up early can feel like an uphill battle at times but this is the most common habit amongst the super-successful.
Why does waking up early make such a difference?
When you wake up early, you’ll be more productive. You have time to yourself to do whatever you need to do. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, is notorious for his early mornings. The man is up and sending out emails at 4:30AM. He takes time to work out every morning and is the first one in the office.
Waking up before your competitors with a clear mind and minimal distractions is a blessing when you have so many different things to tackle.
If you want to wake up early but are finding it difficult, start small and work your way up. Start by setting you alarm clock to wake you up 10 minutes earlier than usual and increase that time by 5 minutes every couple of days or even a week.
2) Read. A lot.
The one thing successful people all seem to have in common is a passion for reading.
Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s longtime partner at Berkshire Hathaway once said,”If you watched Warren Buffett with a time clock, I would say half of all the time he spends is just sitting on his ass and reading. And a big chunk of the rest of the time is spent talking on the phone or personally with people he trusts.”
When Buffett himself was asked at a conference how one could get smarter, Warren Buffett held up a stack of papers and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will.”
Mark Cuban, a successful businessman and investor, seems to achieve success in every industry he enters, whether it’s business, entertainment, technology, investing or sports. He started and sold his first business, Micro Solutions, despite never having any formal education in technology or software. How did he do it? According to Cuban, the answer is reading! It gave him the competitive advantage to succeed where others couldn’t, and this applies to all aspects of life.
As Cuban explains in his book, How to Win at the Sport of Business, “I read every book and magazine I could. Heck, three bucks for a magazine, twenty bucks for a book. One good idea would lead to a customer or a solution, and those magazines and books paid for themselves many times over. Some of the ideas I read were good, some not. In doing all the reading I learned a valuable lesson.”
So why not implement a rule for your own life. If there’s a book you’re interested in, buy it. No questions asked. As Mark Cuban says, all you need is one good idea.
3) Deliberate Practice
Deliberate practice is a highly structured activity built around the specific goal of improving performance.
You’ve likely heard about the 10,000 hour rule, the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become world-class in a field, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell.
You’ve heard the phrase, practice makes perfect. Actually, perfect practice makes perfect.
If you want to get good at something, you have to sit down with a plan. Tiger Woods, one of the most successful golfers of all time, is known for his intense and focused practice sessions. According to Woods’ own estimates, his golf practice sessions are from seven to eight hours in length. Think about how long does it take to become elite at your craft? And what do the people who master their goals do differently than the rest of us?
The belief that success comes from inborn talent is not only discouraging—what if you don’t feel “gifted”?—but profoundly incorrect. Because researchers love to study super-high achievers, we know that the vast majority of achievements don’t spring from innate talent as much as they emerge from hard work and passion. We just don’t always see the work that goes behind creating a “genius”.
4) Be Proactive
“Success seems to be connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” ― Conrad Hilton.
You can have all the plans, schemes and grand ideas in the world, but it means nothing if you don’t act on them. If you want to be successful you need to be proactive. Successful people are devoted to taking actions in a steady, constant basis.
Rewards don’t come from sitting on your coach and waiting for inspiration to strike. The answers to the most difficult problems often reveal themselves only once you’re in the pursuit of a goal.
“If you’re proactive, you don’t have to wait for circumstances or other people to create perspective expanding experiences. You can consciously create your own.” – Stephen Covey.
Being proactive is so important, in fact, that Stephen Covey, author of the famous book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, sets proactiveness as the foundation of all the other habits.
No one else is going to get you where you want to go, it’s totally up to you. Your family and friends can’t succeed for you. Only you can do that. Take ownership of your problems, and realize that nobody else is going to solve them for you.