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7 Habits of Top Performers and World-Class Learners

7 Habits of Top Performers and World-Class Learners

What is it that makes icons like Michael Jordan or Tony Robbins stand out from the world?

What is the difference between world-class performers and average people? It’s their habits.

Each top performer in their industry has lofty goals they want to achieve, but they focus on the process on how to get there.

From their productive morning habits of training each morning, their evening habits of picking up a valuable book to gain a competitive edge, it’s the little habits that have accumulated to make these individuals who they are.

“How you do anything is how you do everything.” -Derek Sivers

Here are 7 habits that top performers and world-class learners have to achieve more success and effectiveness.

1. Set Specific Goals

Have you ever had your eyes set on buying a specific car, let’s say a Red Volkswagen, and for the next week that’s all you saw being driven on the streets? Or maybe you recently decided to learn a new language (Spanish), and you could immediately recognize it the moment you heard it on the radio, movies, or on the streets?

It’s the same thing with goals.

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As Tony Robbins often states, “clarity is power.” If we know exactly where we’re going and what the outcome will be, our brains will figure out how to get there. And the more specific we can get, the higher chance you’ll have in getting what you want.

For example, an example of an unspecific goal would be: I want to learn a new language.

A specific goal would be: I want to learn how to speak Spanish, and hold up a 30-minute conversation with a native speaker in 90 days.

See the difference? The specific goal pinpoints exactly what you want, how you’ll measure success, and the timeline you’ll have to reach it.

2. Plan of action

A goal means nothing if we don’t have a plan of action to get there. It’s like having a final destination of where we want to go on the map, but not knowing where we are on the map nor how to navigate to our destination.

The good news is, we can start to build an action plan around the specific goal we have set.

If your goal is to have a 30-minute conversation with a native speaker in 90 days, then you first need to assess where you are.

In this example, let’s say you have zero knowledge. Your goal could be to memorize 30 of the most common words a day, and by 90 days you’ll have memorized 2,700 words, which will allow you to understand 60% of the spoken language.

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3. Schedule it

Time is the most valuable commodity we take for granted, yet we all have time constraints.

Not enough time to go to the gym. Not enough time to learn a language. The list goes on…

“What Doesn’t Get Scheduled, Doesn’t Get Done.”

Top performers can always get more done than the average person, because they have everything scheduled in their calendars.

Despite running a multi-billion dollar empire, Warren Buffett still manages to schedule time to read over 500+ pages everyday. This is anonymously the habits of successful people and top performers across all industries.

“I just sit in my office and read all day.” — Warren Buffett

Take this time to schedule your action task somewhere in your calendar. The more frequent you can schedule it, the better.
If you want to memorize 30 words a day, then you can schedule at time from 7pm-7:30pm after work each day to get it done.

Scheduling opens up time slots we never knew we had, and it allows us to get more done than we think we can.

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4. Have a coach

According to Coaches.com, coaches:

  • Create a safe environment in which you see yourself more clearly;
  • Identify gaps between where you are now and where you need or want to be
  • Ask for more intentional thought, action and behavior changes than you thought you could accomplish
  • Guide the building of the structure, accountability, and support necessary to ensure sustained commitment

This applies to every industry out there from: sports, dating, business, language learning, etc.

World-class learners not only have one coach, but they often have several. Top performers understand that even the little things can accumulate, and they’re looking for the slightest bit of advantage they can find. By bringing the best qualified experts and coaches to help them improve their jump shot for basketball, their marketing for business, or their accents for language learning, they can reach goals in life faster.

5. Embrace failure

Anyone who is playing at the top of their level had to crawl and sweat to get to where they are.

It’s often our failures that make up who we are, and it’s our failures teaching us the best lessons in life.

Lessons lead to not only faster progress, but a spark of innovation. Silicon Valley is an example.

Having built a culture that celebrates failure and even encourages it, budding entrepreneurs are not afraid to dream big and go all in on their projects, which is what made Silicon Valley one of the most innovative cities in the world.

What is something you’ve failed at recently that you should embrace?

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6. Know how to listen

When Michelle Obama is having a conversation with someone, it’s said that she’s talking only 20% of the time, while listening 80% of the time.

You would imagine that the First Lady of the United States would want to have more to say than that, but listening 80% of the time is how she has gotten to where she is.

Successful people know that there’s a lesson to be learned with every interaction and conversation. They’re sponges for new knowledge that they can apply in their lives, and understand that they’re not learning a thing while they’re speaking.

Focus on speaking 20% of the time, and you’ll be surprised by not only the knowledge you learn from the other person, but the connection they’ll feel with you after the conversation.

7. Know your best learning style

In Peter Drucker’s book Managing One Self, he states that the most important skill you can learn is self-awareness.

This means:

  • Understanding how you best learn: audio, visual, and kinesthetic
  • How you best work: alone, with others, as a subordinate, or as part of a team.
  • Your best learning environment: at home, classroom, lecture halls, small groups.

Being self-aware with your strengths and weaknesses can not only save you years of wasting time, but it can allow you to focus on improving your strengths even further to achieve your end goal.

More by this author

Sean Kim

Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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