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15 Differences Between Successful and Highly Successful Individuals

15 Differences Between Successful and Highly Successful Individuals

Quick question: What really differentiates the successful individual who seems to be getting along fine from the highly successful individual who’s in the media all the time?

Is it the extra work they put in which the other person just couldn’t do? Or perhaps it’s the connections the highly successful person has?

After following some of the highly successful people in my industry, I’ve come to discover that while the difference between them and the successful ones may not be so evident, there’s that thin line that separates them.

Highly successful people have different priorities, unique perspectives and better ways of doing things. They don’t become different people, but they become better than just being successful.

Here are 15 things that most people do that highly successful people don’t:

1. They have an inner drive for accomplishment

They love being active and getting things done. But their activity oftentimes leads them to taking on more than they can chew – They also have an inner drive for excellence.

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All successful people are determined to work harder and get things done. However, they try as much as possible to only get the right things done because they understand prioritization and goals.

2. They have great teams to help them with their goals

But because of their drive, they often tend to expect over delivery from their teams.

Highly successful individuals not only gave great teams but know how to relate well with them. They can communicate their thoughts and intentions very well. They understand that the well-being of their team members contributes immensely to their success. So they have empathy while also delivery results.

3. They try to accomplish a ton of work in as little time possible

Even if it means extending the day to 30 hours, they’d love it. For this reason, they tend to be too focused on work and neglect the other important things in life.

Highly successful people understand that their time is very precious. They also understand that apart from work, their relationships are valuable. So they create time to spend with the important people in their lives while at the same time making good use of the 24 hours they have available. They know the importance of having down time and rest.

4. They tend to talk a lot about themselves

In any gathering, they would be the ones handing out business cards and trying to set up meetings.

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Highly successful people on the other hand look for key relationships in that gathering they could form. They don’t try to be everywhere, but lock in specific relationships that could greatly contribute to their success.

5. They understand that difficulties are part of every business

Highly successful individuals also understand this, but are very careful in handling them. Twice a year, Bill Gates would go into seclusion for a whole week alone, thinking up new ideas and finding better ways to solve problems. Then he would return to Microsoft with genius innovations that even the successful people in the company would be amazed by.

6. They are passionate about what they do and pursue their goals with determination and zest

Highly successful individuals also have passion as a backbone, but are careful to direct that fire in the right direction. Passion has a way of making you want to do many things at once. Highly successful people understand this and fuel their passion with care.

7. They try to please as many people as possible, so they tend to say yes to almost everything

Highly successful people understand that pleasing everyone could be detrimental to their personal goals. So ‘No’ is often part of their vocabulary and they only say ‘Yes’ to activities and causes that are aligned with their goals, whether it is learning a new skill, building quality relationships or just having a good time.

8. They understand the importance of learning and look for new avenues.

The highly successful individuals learn from everything including their mistakes and those made by others. They understand the negative effect of complacency and strive to learn something new every day, even if it’s from just walking the dog down the street.

9. They sometimes like to be heard and that’s okay

Highly successful individuals prefer to listen first before speaking. They listen to the people around them to get the unsaid ideas and tips. They only speak once they have a full grasp of what is being talked about or when they have immense value to share. To them, silence is golden in specific situations.

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10. They love to work and don’t necessarily see the importance of other activities where work isn’t involved

Highly successful individuals know the importance of taking care of themselves. They understand that they are the only ones who can achieve their goals. So they include things like exercise, meditation and adequate sleep to their routine.

11. They are very confident in themselves and in what they do…

But this confidence doesn’t stop them from comparing their level of success with others.

Highly successful individuals don’t give room for self-consciousness or comparison. They’re confident in what they do and understand that’s the only way other people can be confident in them. They’d rather be the benchmark than make someone else the benchmark.

12.  They often monitor and get obsessed with competition

They always want to know what the competition is doing so they can do it better.

Highly successful individuals are more focused on themselves and aren’t worried about what the competition is doing. Instead, they think about what they can do differently.

13. They take negative criticism to heart…

but not the highly successful ones. They welcome criticism because it helps them grow and achieve their goals.

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14. They want to see the results of their efforts fast, so they work really hard to make that happen

The highly successful individuals understand that delayed gratification is an important ingredient of success. They understand that success doesn’t happen overnight and so have the patience and perseverance to wait.

15. They tend to take the bulk of their work on themselves perhaps due to lack of personnel or finance

The highly successful individuals are very resourceful. When starting a new business, they’re able to acquire the money or the personnel required to make their dreams a reality.

What are your thoughts on these difference between successful and highly successful individuals?

Featured photo credit: Petras Gagilas via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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