What do Successful People do?

chalkboard image of word success.I curate materials for my membership site to try to ensure my members have access to quality material.  I’ve come across many articles on the habits of successful people during my searches.  A couple have provided some great guidance on what people can do to improve themselves, but others have led me to wonder about what makes people a success.

In the articles, no definition of success is provided, but imply that means you have a high professional status or have an awful lot of money!  Fair enough, most of the writing I’ve seen has been from business-related sites and authors, but some have been from experts in other areas.  So, I thought I’d look up a couple of definitions.  Dictionary.com defines success as:

  • the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals
  • the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like
  • a performance or achievement that is marked by success, as by the attainment of honors
  • a person or thing that has had success, as measured by attainment of goals, wealth, etc.
while Wikipedia defines it as:

Interestingly, these sites tend to link success with wealth, social status, and the attainment of things as well.  Furthermore, in many of the articles I read, it’s not enough to just be “successful”.  Articles refer to the “ultra” successful or “ridiculously” successful.  Success itself is no longer a sufficient goal – we need to exceed and be greater than those that are merely successful.  Let’s take a look at some recommendations that we can follow to become incredibly successful.

First, waking up pre-dawn is extremely important.  There’s a lot you can accomplish before the sun rises!  According some articles, these are all things to accomplished before work if you want to be successful:  drink water with lemon instead of coffee, spend 30 – 60 minutes of exercise, 60 minutes to work on a personal passion project, 45 minutes of quality family time (because you’ll be too tired by the end of the day), connect with your spouse (pre-dawn sex is recommended because you’re often too tired before bed), 20 minutes of meditation, network over coffee (I guess it’s okay once you’ve had your water and lemon), write in your gratitude journal, read the paper, and check emails!  Wow.  All before you go into the office.  Oh, and I forgot the ultra important task of making your bed!  Apparently bed-makers have a stronger correlation to productivity than non-bed-makers.  I figure I’d have to wake up at about 3 am to get my pre-work ritual done!  Then, I’d need a nap!  I agree  many of these things are important, but wonder if I do some of them, let’s say, after work – will my success diminish?  If I spend quality time with my family before work, do I get to ignore them after work or does my time with them get to be of lesser quality?  Is this advice really about being successful or being extremely results-oriented?

Next, comes things that extremely successful people do once they get to work (remember, we’ve just started our work day).  It’s important to focus only on one thing at a time and work on it for a couple of hours every morning.  Ignore every other aspect of your work and life, ignore employees who come for help, sick children who need to be picked up from school, your boss’ urgent phone call.  Schedule these things into your all important calendar and don’t deviate from it!  Avoid meetings at all costs, say no to almost everything and delegate almost everything else.  In business climates where collaboration, teamwork, and cross-functional work is encouraged, I’m sure practicing these skills will drive your success!  Finally, make it home for dinner every night – don’t worry about getting there in time to help prepare it, but just as long as you’re there when the food hits the table.  Don’t worry about having meaningful conversations because you spent quality time in the morning – this is your time.  Of course, I’m over-exaggerating the intent of the advice, but I did wonder whether these task-driven items would really help me succeed – or perhaps I’m just defensive because I dragged myself out of bed at 7 am and didn’t make my bed!

Then I came across some articles that really spoke to me about how you can invite success into your life.  Andrew Thomas, who wrote 8 Things Successful People do Every Day that most People Ignore and Jules Schroeder’s 7 Surprising Things Ultra Successful People do Differently had some meaningful advice that spoke to the essence of being, not just doing.  First, believing in yourself is critical.  We all face adversity, deal with people who tell us we can’t do something – having that belief that we can accomplish our goals helps us persevere when times are tough.  Also keeping a focus on the long term vision can help us keep going when the short term doesn’t look too promising!  Surround yourself with people who support and inspire you to keep your spirits up and stay energized.  They speak to relationship as something that benefits and lifts people instead of a task to accomplish, something that drains your energy and you need to get out of the way.  Instead of ensuring you’ve accomplished a whole day’s work before getting to the office, working on your most critical items when you’re at your peak is encouraged.  Some people (who are probably at least moderately successful) aren’t morning people.  If that’s you, find a career where that works for you.  Schedule important meetings and critical assignments for when you’re at your most energized – whenever that may be.  Work smart.  Finally, successful people always strive to improve, challenge their assumptions, and continuously learn.  Finding a balance among work, physicality, and fun is necessary.

Ultimately, I believe success comes in many forms and definitions.  We don’t need to define our success through status and material things, we can define it though relationships and bettering ourselves in every aspect of our lives.  Success can be accomplished in many different ways, but knowing your own definition of it is what determines your sense of accomplishment.


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