21 Habits of Extremely Successful People
I was sitting in front of my computer about to do an interview with Olympic gold medalist Adam Kreek and I was absolutely terrified.
I had already read Adam’s book “Inches” that (as of this moment) hasn’t been released to the public yet and I knew that I was about to be in the presence of a man that demanded excellence.
After all, this is a guy who was once told he had to wait on the dock before he could embrace his wife after winning his gold medal … so he jumped in the lake, swam to the crowd, stiff-armed a security guard, and celebrated his win with his soulmate.
All I could think about was not failing spectacularly.
And, quite honestly, this used to be how I felt before EVERY single interview that I did.
Sometimes I would have fantasies about my guests abruptly ending our call and ghosting me on all channels because everything went so horribly.
“Life is suffering. The moment you come to peace that you’re going to suffer, the suffering is not so bad.” – Adam Kreek
After spending hours and hours researching; reading their books; watching their videos; learning about how they think and what they believe; corresponding with them via email and phone … the pressure and anxiety I feel when it comes to serving them and helping to create a piece of content they absolutely love is immense.
But when I ended my call with Adam, he had blessed me with one more tool from a successful human that I use in my arsenal regularly.
As it turns out, Olympic athletes feel immense pressure and anxiety to perform to the best of their ability on the world stage. Instead of shying away from the anxiety, they lean into it.
I mean, what is anxiety really? It’s energy.
During the warm-up and right before his races began, Adam told me his whole team starts verbally expressing gratitude for that extra energy boost.
“THANK YOU ANXIETY! THANK YOU FOR THIS ENERGY! I’M GOING TO USE YOU TO PERFORM EVEN BETTER!”
Instead of fighting against the current, they go with the flow and channel that emotion into performing at a higher level.
(They also pee into jugs before their races to make themselves lighter but I haven’t successfully figured out how to integrate that into my life in a positive way yet.)
You can do this before any endeavor that makes you feel anxious, too (Which I now do).
It’s a small habit that propels you onward and upward … helping you get that much closer to your ideal self and your own personal definition of success.
Onto the list:
21 Habits of Highly Successful People
1) They consciously question the difference between “impossible” and “really hard”.
Unsuccessful people never realize their full potential because their first response to the challenges life inevitably hurls in their path is to say things like, “That’s impossible.”
Successful people tell themselves that the pain and suffering is the barrier to entry.
They tell themselves that if someone has done something even one time, then it’s not impossible.
2) They set actionable goals with purpose.
The human brain is amazing (and unique in the entire universe) for its ability to simulate the future.
Whereas human beings naturally spend an inordinate of time and energy simulating fear and panic-inducing scenarios where they get sick, go broke, and ruin their lives … successful people spend their mental energy on creating paths towards goals and simulations in which they follow that path until they reach their goals.
3) They hand write their goals.
This is one of the easiest habits on this list and it’s also one that provides ginormous results.
When you hand write your goals on a sheet of paper instead of typing them on your laptop or phone, you are actively engaging your body and brain, and it’s scientifically proven that you’re way more likely to follow through.
4) They intentionally remove distractions.
Your most valuable currency in the world is your attention and successful people are very aware of that fact.
They have a keen sense of awareness for spotting and removing anything that does not serve them or distracts them from their goals.
5) They consciously wade into fear and uncertainty.
Most people are afraid and resistant of change but successful people actively combat their fears so that they can experience growth.
This was a major topic of my conversation with Dave Hollis on “The Process” and his direct reasoning for quitting as the head of worldwide distribution at Disney in order to become the CEO of The Hollis Company.
6) They create systems of accountability that are far better than self-discipline.
High achievers and successful people realize that self-discipline is not enough to get them to where they need to be.
What they understand about the way the human brain works and personal development is that when they leverage social accountability so that they follow through in a way that they never would on their own.
Another awesome piece of advice given to me by Adam Kreek:
When he’s on the traveling to give his keynote speeches he worries about getting lax about hitting the gym. So instead of simply relying on self-discipline, he tells the company that booked him that not only do they get a keynote speaker, they also get a personal trainer.
Anybody who wants to work out can join him at the hotel gym at 6 am. Pretty tough to not show up now, isn’t it?
7) They are purposeful with their language.
Unsuccessful people use phrases like: “I can’t”, “That looks impossible”, “Maybe one day”, or “I’ll try”.
Successful people understand the power of language influencing their actions and instead use intentional phrases like: “I will” and “I am”.
They also analyze their assumptions and ask high-quality questions like, “Who is already doing what I want to do?” and “If this were easy, what would it look like?”
8) They create systems and processes for constant learning.
Successful people know that in order to be their best self, they need to be learning and growing every single day.
They schedule time into their daily life and then take action.
Their learning process could be: reading books, taking online courses, watching informative youtube videos, performing reflective practice (Which is a model of learning where successful people reflect on their daily actions in order to learn from their experiences), or talking with a coach or mentor.
9) They regularly build and nurture their network.
Successful people hold true to the adage that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.
They focus on surrounding themselves with high-quality, like-minded people that will push them everyday into becoming the best version of themselves.
They also give back and provide enormous value to their personal network as well.
10) They regularly take risks with small downside and enormous upside.
These risk are commonly referred to as asymmetrical.
Successful people place as many of these small bets as they can knowing that some will pay off massively when they hit.
For an infographic that I created of 5 asymmetrical risks you can start taking today (As well as resources to get started), join my email newsletter below (Here’s a hint: “The Process with Brad Wilson” podcast is an example of one of my personal asymmetrical risks).
11) They play the long game.
Even though the results of today, this week, or even this year are important, successful people don’t let negative results derail or dissuade them from their long-term goals.
They maintain a habit of projecting goals long into the future and stay the course.
12) They take rejuvenating breaks.
“All work with no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Even though it may sound counter-intuitive that breaks are necessary in order to be successful, high-achievers recognize the very real existential threat of burnout.
If they burnout in the short-term, how do you think that affects their long-term goals? Pretty much everything unravels in a heartbeat.
Plus, isn’t it just way more fun to unplug from all the pulls at our attention multiple times a year?
13) They maintain and take care of their body.
This might be the most obvious habit on the list but it still has to be said.
Our mind and will is only as strong as our body and high-achievers go out of their way to dedicate time and attention towards staying strong.
For some amazing tips on training for more energy, (once again) check out my conversation Adam Kreek.
14) They fuel their body in a way that serves them well.
Everything we consume is what our body uses for energy and fuel.
In the same way that you wouldn’t pay $100,000 for a sports car and then put regular unleaded in it when it specifically calls for premium; why would you fuel your body (Which I would hope is way more valuable than ANY car in the world) with less than premium fuel?
15) They have regular contact with coaches and mentors.
Successful people understand that no matter where they aim to be in life, there are already people who have reached the top of the mountain.
In all of my conversations with high-achievers, the one piece of wisdom that remains consistent is that if you desire to fast-track your results and expedite your growth, you absolutely need to regularly interact with people who have already fought the monsters you’re currently at war with.
16) They regularly update and improve their systems and processes.
Successful people realize that even if something works well, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved upon.
And they also realize, like in my conversation with V.E. Schwab, that even though something works for someone else, it doesn’t mean it will work for you.
If you find yourself struggling to finish the things you know you ought to be finishing, make it a practice to take a hard look at your systems and processes weekly so that you can figure out how to improve them.
If you don’t have clarity as to what your systems and processes are, start keeping a log of everything you’re spending your time and energy on.
These are your processes.
17) They take care of their mind.
Our brains use 25% of our daily energy and yet only make up 3% of our body mass.
Successful people understand that if they aren’t taking care of their brain through habits like meditation that they will never be their best self and live up to their full potential.
18) They have fun.
Human beings are social creatures that yearn to be a part of a tribe.
Successful people know that in order to live a happy, fulfilling, and ultimately successful life, they need to regularly allocate time to having fun … even if that fun doesn’t further their goals in any way.
19) They make it a point to regularly make everyone around them better.
In all of my research on true happiness, serving our fellow man is mentioned every single time.
Successful human beings know this and regularly give back to all of the people that they interact with.
If they can take a moment to offer encouraging wisdom or meaningful feedback that will allow someone in their tribe to shine, they will. Nobody is ever reaches true success by tearing down everyone around them.
20) They practice and regularly improve their communication skills.
Every single great leader, influencer, and story-teller than I have interviewed is a master of communication (And in the case of Michael Sorensen and Jonathan Robinson, they have even written books on the subject).
Our ability for advanced communication is what separates human beings from every other sentient creature on Earth.
Successful people understand the power of good communication skills and invest heavily in being able to sharpen those skills so that they can become better leaders, increase their empathy so that they can serve people to the best of their ability, offer instructions with clarity, and build better relationships with everyone around them.
21) Successful people treat other people like people, not as tools.
In my conversation with CEO of Menlo Innovations Rich Sheridan (And author of Joy Inc.) he discussed some of the systems and processes used at Menlo that have made it one of the most coveted places to work in the whole world.
The biggest takeaway for me was that in order for Menlo to be successful as a company and Menlonians to be successful as employees, they must see one another as human beings and not as “developers”, “executives”, “managers”, or even “CEO”.
If you’d like a real-world example of this, think about your Instagram feed and how many people completely ignore your question and instead leave comments like “Keep up the good work!” or <fire emoji> <thumbs-up emoji>.
They aren’t leaving a comment to be thoughtful, they’re leaving a comment so that you (And your followers) check out their profile and possibly follow them back.
The good news is that there is an awesome and easy way to stand out from the crowd … answer the questions with care and thoughtfulness.
Successful people know this and spend 1 minute being thoughtful 50x’ing their results instead of 5 seconds .5x’ing them.
Which habits of highly successful people did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!