The ultimate, eternal life-hack is learning from the mistakes and successes of others. We call this wisdom. For all intents and purposes, the concept is very simple: study successful people and do what they do; study unsuccessful people and avoid what they do.
Volumes have been written about such things. I stumbled into this article highlighting 17 habits of self-made millionaires. While I have no great desire to be such, I have highlighted several habits below one can begin today to build for themselves a better future.
Here is the thing: there are habits and there are virtues. Some of the virtues of the successful highlighted are persistence, helpfulness, and positivity. Virtues are important, but they are not what I want to highlight. I want to talk about the things we can wake up and do today.
They Read. Successful people read. They read personal development books, leadership books, and autobiographies. Thomas C. Corley states in his book “Change Your Habits, Change Your Life” that the rich read for education, not entertainment.
However, I believe fiction and fun reading does educate us on many levels: our creative brain muscles are stretched, our emotional intelligence is deepened, and our comprehension skills are sharpened. Plus, there is something good for the soul in an old-fashioned novel.
They Exercise. I know, earth-shattering advice here. Cardio is the healthier and more popular option. Simply taking a short walk each day will benefit your body, but also your heart. Getting up, out, and moving does wonders for your creativity and clarity.
They Sleep. It has always amazed me that some of the most successful people in the world get plenty of sleep last night. Like me, don’t fall for the lie that tells you to forgo sleep to be productive. The exact opposite is true. Our bodies are machines and machines need fuel to perform. (I would argue that our nutrition is the actual fuel for the machine and sleep is the oil or the timing belt or something. But I digress.)
What happens when we sleep is pretty incredible. The body heals. The brain forms memories. And the magic of counter intuitiveness happens: we get more done in less time when we sleep more and work less.
They Serve. Helping others achieve their goals, level up, and win are keys to being successful in our own right. Servant leadership places the needs and desires of others ahead of our own. The result of this, however, is that everyone wins. This is especially true in the workplace. Serving the team around you and helping them find wins bring personal success.
They Ask. Successful people ask lots of questions. Primarily, they seek feedback. I make it a practice to approach my direct supervisor at least once a month and simply ask a few questions: How am I doing? Am I meeting your expectations? What can I do to exceed your expectations? Is there anything I am missing?
It is also a good practice to do a 360* review as well, asking not only our supervisors for their feedback but also asking our peers and direct reports to provide candid feedback on our performance as well. This practice should be completed at least once a year, but preferably semi-annually.
Asking questions places us in a posture of humility. It communicates to our supervisors and our team that we don’t know everything and that we, ourselves, are constantly looking to improve. If this desire to be better becomes a part of the culture we live and work in, the habit of asking good questions and seeking feedback will lead to greater success.
What about you? Would you add a different habit that can be started today to help the community be more successful?