Many people go through life envious of the success of others.
But what they fail to realise is that successful people, and especially those who reach the upper echelons, spend their lives working hard to achieve their dreams
So, are they just lucky, intelligent, or just born with a silver spoon?
Well, in reality, it’s none of these attributes.
While there’s no proven formula, there’s no denying that may of the people we admire share commonalities that helped them get to the top – and stay there.
1. Early birds
The ultra successful start their day early!
Notable early risers include Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group, Disney CEO Robert Iger and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.
Waking up early isn’t an easy habit to cultivate, though, so I suggest you experiment with different techniques.
One of the most effective ways to make sure you rise early is simply not to hit snooze, which we all know is easier said than done.
It might surprise you that another key to success is not to check your emails in bed before you go to sleep!
The opposite is actually the most effective, which means that you should have no screen light at least one hour before bedtime as it can affect the hormone responsible for inducing sleep.
Another strategy involves writing your plans for the next day at the end of the previous day, so they’ll serve as motivation for you to get out of bed.
2. The power of the reading
Think book nerds are losers?
It’s quite the opposite, actually, because the last time I checked, they ruled the world.
Bill Gates reads for one hour as part of his bedtime routine. J.K Rowling, the first-ever billionaire author, read everything she could as a child.
President Obama, Sheryl Sandberg and Albert Einstein are book lovers, too.
Reading helps you learn from the mistakes and successes of others.
Instead of just diving in and relying on your guts and motivation to lead you, reading gives you a mental map to bypass rookie mistakes that many people make in life.
3. Get moving
Successful people have all the resources they’ll ever need to keep themselves fit and healthy.
They can afford the most expensive spa treatments and cosmetic surgery, if they’re so inclined, yet exercise is still a part of their daily habits.
The ultra successful understand that exercise keeps them fit, but it also keeps their brain healthy, minimises stress, and improves memory.
In fact, they know that using “too much work” as an excuse not to exercise is counterproductive.
Studies show that exercise can boost creativity and productivity by as much as two hours and it can make you smarter, too.
4. Being still
So while being physically active is an important element of ultra success, so too is understanding that at times we need to be still.
Studies suggest meditation can alleviate anxiety, pain and prevent depression.
It can also improve your ability to focus instead of getting overwhelmed with everything that’s happening around you.
Unfortunately, quietening the mind doesn’t come as naturally to many of us, so for beginners, you can create the habit of meditating by concentrating on your breath for three to five minutes, which is the average starting point of new meditators.
What separates professionals from wannabes?
Pros work, even when they don’t feel like it!
E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web, famously said, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”
That applies to us all, whatever your occupation.
Next time you don’t feel like working, keep calm and commit to 15 minutes and see how you feel.
6. Practice and more practice
Even those at the top of their game understand that practice is what got, and what will keep them, there.
Serena Williams wakes up at 6am to practice tennis and she’s been doing that since she was a kid when even her after-school routine revolved around practising the sport.
Many of the ultra successful work hard via practicing their unique skill or craft in the beginning, in the middle and at the end of their careers.
You can find shortcuts for everything in life, but you can never sidestep the hard work required to build the foundation of your goals.
7. Minimise distractions
Tim Ferris is famous for suggesting this in his book, The 4-Hour Work Week, that reading and answering emails doesn’t make you productive – if anything, you’re just being responsive.
To minimise distractions, he recommends checking emails just twice a day at 11am and 4pm or perhaps after you’ve completed at least one critical item in your to-do list and once more before the end of your workday.
That way you can minimise distractions so you can stay focused on your ultimate end goal.
8. Giving back
Ultra successful people dedicate time to give back to their community by working with charities, volunteering and donating.
Tom Corley, author of Wealthy Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals and a regular contributor to Property Update, says that 73 per cent of the 233 wealthy people he studied for five years volunteer five-plus hours a month.
Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, all donate to different causes.
If you’re not already rich, you can be in other ways by volunteering for your local charity or helping at a nursing home.
9. Little by little
Have you ever heard of the calendar method supposedly created by comedian Jerry Seinfeld?
Get a big calendar and a red marker, then mark “X” on each day you work on your goal or habit.
In two weeks, you’ll have a long chain showing your progress and it will motivate you to keep going, too.
These nine lessons from the ultra successful will take time to implement so don’t try them all at once!
Instead pick the easiest habit for you, perhaps daily exercise if you regularly work up a sweat anyway, and do it for three to six months until it becomes natural to you.
Then choose another one and so on, so that soon you’re on your way to success just like those at the top of their game.
Also published on Medium.