By now, you probably think that every successful person wakes up at 5 am to work out, then takes a cold shower followed by an hour of meditation and a barefoot walk in nature. At least that’s what everything we read about them tells us.
These morning routines that have become so popular are great, but we doubt they’re the habits most responsible for their success.
Most people like to ignore that successful people worked their butts off for years to get to this magical time of their lives that we so wish to emulate. It’s like asking one of the world’s greatest runners how they recover from a race, thinking that it will somehow help us win a marathon.
“At some point you have to become conscious of the fact that your current actions are preventing you from hitting your future goals.” – Dan Koe (@thedankoe)
So what did they do that we may be missing?
Quit lying to ourselves
This bad habit is probably the number one obstacle to accomplishing our goals.
We lie to ourselves to ease the pressures of life. We rationalize that things will get easier if we could just catch a few breaks.
The truth is that life is hard, and to be successful, we must do hard things.
If you would like an inspiring pep talk about doing hard things, check out this video from Kara Lawson, Duke University women’s basketball coach.
We need to understand and accept the things we wish weren’t true. Sometimes we think we want something that we either really don’t or aren’t willing to sacrifice what’s necessary to achieve.
Be brutally honest with yourself every single day. If not, your goals are mere fantasies.
Understand our capabilities
A five-foot-three guy has a nearly impossible road to play in the NBA. No matter our talent or work ethic, physical traits limit our abilities. Mugsy Bogues is evidence that it can be done, but the odds are prohibitively stacked against us.
Understanding our capabilities and limitations should not necessarily discourage us from achieving our dreams. It should, however, help us realize that what works for others may not be the path for us.
We’re no longer eight years old, and the “you can achieve anything you set your mind to” mantra doesn’t hold up so well in reality.
Know yourself and understand what’s possible before embarking on an unlikely journey.
Learn about people
Do you think Steve Jobs worked on the iPhone without knowing what people wanted? Of course not. He had an uncanny sense of what people wanted, even when they didn’t realize it themselves.
Understanding people takes constant observation. Too many of us think that if we find something interesting, then everybody else will love it too.
Instead of talking about your big idea, try observing as many people as possible. Avoid asking their opinions. Instead, look for what motivates them.
Forget what people should do and focus on how they act to gain insight into human nature. Watch what they do in relation to what they say.
Once you understand someone’s motivations, you’ll know how to move them in the direction you want.
This dirty secret is the most underrated trait of the most successful people in the world. They got lucky!
Some say that we make our luck, and that’s true to a point. The more opportunities we give ourselves, the more chances we have at getting lucky. But, sometimes, success or failure can be pure dumb luck.
Bill Gates was lucky enough to attend one of the few high schools in the country at the time with a computer.
Harrison Ford was a struggling actor working as a carpenter until the day he met George Lucas, who made him Han Solo.
Charles Lindbergh survived four plane crashes before flying around the world solo. It’s where he got the nickname “Lucky Lindy.”
Remember that luck works both ways. How many great high school or college athletes put a foot wrong just once, leading to a career-ending injury before it ever began?
Define your success
Success means different things to different people, but whatever our goals, we must remain adaptable and understand the world around us.
It’s impossible to predict the future or guarantee success. All we can do is keep stepping into the batter’s box and swinging at as many pitches as possible. We’re going to hit a lot of foul balls and strike out a lot.
The great thing about life is that often it only takes one big hit. Someday that perfect pitch meets our best swing, and we spend a lifetime rounding the bases.
Take care, even down there.
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