Keeping a routine is crucial to success. Time spent wondering what to do next is time wasted. Learn how this and other traits are common among highly successful entrepreneurs.
Success can be defined subjectively – if you are genuinely happy with your life and your career, it’s perfectly reasonable to consider yourself successful. But success can also be defined objectively – most of us can agree Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey are successful people. So what are the traits and habits that highly successful people implement in their own lives? They all have positive habits that are conducive to their continued success.
Below are some of the habits successful people swear by.
Keep a Routine
Keeping a routine is crucial to success. Time spent wondering what to do next is time wasted. Elon Musk schedules his day in five-minute increments so there isn't any lost time at any point throughout the day. He also splits his days between Tesla and SpaceX. Always knowing what he should be focusing on keeps him from wasting time.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has a slightly different way of preventing wasted time: He wears the same outfit every day. By spending less time thinking about the inconsequential, Zuckerberg frees up time to spend on the most important ideas.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, used to break up his self-improvement plans into 13-week chunks, cycling through four different points of improvement every year. Throughout those cycles he kept the same daily schedule, asking himself every morning, “What good shall I do today?”
Always Be Learning
Reading is crucial to learning, yet most people don’t feel they have the time. A lifelong love of learning is crucial to success, and there’s no easier or better way to learn than by reading. Books give you access to the knowledge of other high achievers.
Oprah Winfrey began reading when she was three years old and never stopped, noting that “Books were my pass to personal freedom.” Her book club has recommended over 70 books since 1996, and, for authors, getting that prized O sticker on your book is considered a sign of success.
Warren Buffett began his investment career by reading 800 to 1,000 pages a day. Today he reads an average of 80% of his waking hours. Bill Gates reads 50 books a year and advocates strongly that others do the same, noting, “Almost one book a week is very doable – try it!”
Physical Fitness Keeps Your Mind Fit Too
Physical fitness helps you learn to push through barriers while enhancing cognitive abilities. Richard Branson wakes up at 5 a.m. to do various forms of physical activity, and he claims he gets four additional hours of productivity out of each day because of it. Tyra Banks recommends keeping workouts fun and inspiring, while Mark Cuban does 6 to7 hours of cardio per week.
Perseverance Pays Off
Steve Jobs is remembered not only for his great success but also for getting fired from the company he helped found in 1985. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance,” said Jobs. He was well known for his drive but also renowned for his way of looking at things differently – if he heard “no” too often, he knew that meant something needed to change.
Part of perseverance as a habit includes flexibility. If you are too rigid in your thinking, it can prevent you from being innovative. Peter Thiel believes in keeping things lean and unplanned so you can turn on a dime as an entrepreneur, because entrepreneurship is about being able to experiment.
Thomas Edison was well known for learning from his mistakes and turning those mistakes into teachable moments. “I have not failed 10,000 times; I have not failed once,” he would say, “I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work.” Learning from failure and pushing boundaries until you come up with a solution is the surest path toward success.
Applying These Lessons in the Workplace
Looking for job candidates who have a good sense of work-life balance is the best way to nurture things like perseverance, physical fitness, and lifelong learning. Candidates who want to punch a time clock and go home to play video games are not going to work on personal development in their spare time. Innovation comes from people who are always looking for new ways to solve problems and improve their lives.
Looking at the habits of highly successful people can not only give us a sense of places where we can achieve improvement personally, but it can also give us a sense of what a successful job candidate might look like. Asking job candidates what book they are currently reading might be a better indication of future job success than asking what extracurricular activities they may have.