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How Studying Highly Successful People Makes You Highly Successful

How Studying Highly Successful People Makes You Highly Successful

As babies we learn to crawl, walk, eat and talk by modeling or watching others.  This idea of studying others through conscious observance is the best method for achieving success. Simply put: we are what we do. Some of the most influential people in my life, who have trained me to become the independent person I am today, are successful people I’ve never even met. Here are seven ways you can learn from others who are highly successful.

1. Learn to never pity yourself.

Liz Murray defeated the odds that were against her. From a child of drug-addicted parents to a homeless Harvard student, Murray rose to become an international speaker and author. Her story came to me through a Lifetime documentary called “Homeless to Harvard,” and the strength of Murray’s spirit encouraged me. I cried during the movie thinking about what it must have taken by way of intestinal fortitude to get her high school diploma. She then progressed to the level of what many consider highly successful.

After watching, I researched the woman in an attempt to learn why she had the ability to succeed where others like her deteriorated into self-pity. I saw the strength of her determination to get what she knew she deserved. I learned never to pity myself. One day I too may inspire even just one person.

2. Learn to scream in an empty room, but whisper in an auditorium.

Since the early ‘90s the progressive rock band Tool has been growing a strong following, but the band only released one E.P. and four full-length albums total as of 2014. Watching and studying the front man, Maynard James Keenan, has tuned me into some keen business decisions. The first of which is marketing.

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Keenan said during interviews that an auditorium full of people will quiet to hear a whisper. Once an entertainer or a leader speaks loudly enough (screaming in an almost empty room) the message will carry, but to maintain the level of interest one needs to back off and let the audience clamor for more. The concept of whispering in an auditorium shows true insight to the factors that make someone interesting and therefore successful.

Readers may not know that Keenan started Tool on a dare, but a quick Internet search will prove that this one man took an idea and ran with it. He greatly improved the sense of what it takes to make it as an independent musician (and now wine maker).

3. Learn the importance of networking.

Ben Franklin has been called “The First American” and what his model teaches is one of networking. At his core, Franklin understood human nature, psychology and marketing. Perhaps because he came from blue-collar roots, Franklin understood not only himself but also his community. He wrote as well as published the famous Pennsylvania Gazette.

Though Franklin didn’t overcome the kind of debilitating struggles that Murray did, and though he wasn’t promoting a true creative project, like a band, what he did showed triumph over the economic and political scene of a country still finding itself. When one man can find himself in a country that hasn’t yet settled on what it is, that is inspirational.

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4. Learn the meaning of being true to yourself.

When I think of a true leader and a true independent spirit who has inspired me to be successful, I think of and study from folk singer and guitar player Ani DiFranco.

I named my cat after Ani because her success came as a result of fierce hard work. To my knowledge DiFranco wasn’t abandoned in the wild, forced to fend for food among literal wolves. But, as a female songwriter in a predominantly male-run business, she cloaked herself and persevered until she had the success and the guts to shake off her mask and sing out from her soul.

After watching DiFranco release album after album, I take so much stock of her ceaseless energy. The only times she didn’t release at least an album a year, complete with tour, is when she had her babies. I know in February 2012 she played on an Atlanta stage with unborn baby rocking in her belly.

One of the single most inspirational things about DiFranco’s success is how she not once stooped to plastic surgery. Her varying hairstyles and sensible makeup never portrayed an ounce of pretentiousness. Aging with grace is something DiFranco shows to all the females who pay attention.

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5. Learn to live in the moment.

Living in the moment truly is a difficult task because humans, by design,stress and fret about the future. The one successful individual who most comes to mind when I think of how I’ve mirrored this attitude is Dan Millman. A former world champion athlete, university coach, and college professor, Millman wrote the book “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” as fiction but based on many of his real-life experiences. The movie adaptation struck me as a solid lesson in living life on life’s terms.

When we quiet the bustle of the day, we can hear the buzzing of the bees, and we live in the moment. Life is beautiful and no amount of stressful striving can replace the success that comes from enjoying the life we each have.

6. Take time to truly listen.

A successful person doesn’t necessarily need to be a famous or wealthy individual. Taking the time to listen to those who are successful in love, those who are educated and those with experience can provide the best lessons of all. A grandparent, a parent and even a teacher or coach can have the most impact on your success.

In taking the time to listen you learn how others overcame their struggles, whether from fighting oppression or learning from poor decisions. When we study those who are successful we learn from their mistakes and avoid having to learn everything the hard way.

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7. Take calculated risks known as investments.

Many students blindly register for and attend expensive universities, colleges and graduate schools because they think that a piece of paper means more opportunity for success. Look around at those who actually graduate and become successful; following those patterns will help you become successful as well.

Education is expensive, but not as expensive as ignorance. Thinking critically and modeling others will nearly ensure success because the first step involves understanding what you want. One cannot become successful without trying. Even the examples of individuals who seemingly became overnight sensations had a team of people working toward that goal.

In educating yourself, choose a mentor to study. Take notes from that person and how he or she spends time and budgets money. Through studying others who have achieved success, it is possible to become successful.

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Ellen Eldridge

Ellen is a passionate journalist. She shares her everyday life tips at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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