What Are The Habits Of Successful People?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the best-selling books of all time. The advice is solid, but there’s one huge problem with it: the title.
Having sold some 25 million copies and still spreading at over 100,000 searches per month, it forever continues to etch four ideas into our minds:
- There is an ideal combination of habits that causes success.
- That combination is finite.
- That combination is timeless.
- That combination is the same for everyone.
Sadly, none of these ideas are true. Let’s address them one by one.
What We Look For In Habit Bundles
In late 2016, 13-year-old Danielle Bregoli went on Dr. Phil with her mother. One sassy line later, she was a media sensation. The internet abounds with viral case studies like the “Cash Me Outside” girl, which is the first thing that should give us pause when relating success to habits.
Was it really her continued, bad behavior that led her to 15 million Instagram followers and a record deal? Or the fact that said behavior was on national TV at the right time? Maybe, it’s not so much the combination of our habits, but of our circumstances, that turns our efforts into hits and misses.
And yet, our habits do influence these circumstances. What’s curious is that we insist on bundling them when determining how much.
Imagine a writer’s perfect routine was to wake up, brush her teeth, then write. If it’s the overall blend that’s ideal, each deviation would lead to work that’s worse. But it’s easy to imagine that if she skipped brushing her teeth, nothing would change. It’s the writing that counts. At the same time, she might one day add a habit, like an afternoon run, that does improve her performance.
Most of the time, what we look for in habit bundles is support for the one constant that matters. But in doing so, we add complexity that soon clouds the importance of the very thing that works. One day you wake up earlier to write more, the next you do a 7-step morning routine, but forget the writing.
The more variables you consider together, the less likely it becomes that your…