If you read a lot of self-help books, which we do, you tend to see patterns emerge – this goes for whether you’re devouring autobiographies of the rich and famous or punchy business strategy tomes written by people with degrees in behavioural economics and millions of TED talk subscribers. A lot of the time, there’s a few common traits that come up again and again. These habits won’t turn you into a billionaire over night, but implement them and you’re sure to notice a change in your mindset and, in turn, start hitting your personal goals quicker.
Firstly, if we’re searching for successful role models when it comes to the power of reading, look no further than Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Warren Buffet. The latter describes knowledge as stacking up like compound interest; the more you invest in reading the more you learn. It’s no coincidence that one of the world’s most famous book clubs is helmed by Oprah Winfrey.
Now, a lot of people are going to tell you to read purely non-fiction but we think that a mixture is good. There’s a whole host of health benefits associated with reading – from lowering the risk of dementia to reducing stress – and these benefits aren’t associated with solely one genre. Challenge, inform, entertain, inspire and stretch your imagination with a regular reading schedule and reap the rewards.
It’s not what you know it’s who you know. In a hyper-connected world the old adage has never been more important. Successful people know about the importance of networking, know what they want to garner from a networking opportunity, come prepared and well-researched, and always follow up.
The vaster and more diverse your contacts book is the more opportunities there are to share and receive knowledge, advice and ultimately working opportunities.
Highly successful people know exactly what they’re going to do and when they’re going to do it. As productivity and organisation expert David Allen points out in his seminal work-life management system Getting Things Done, “your mind is for having ideas, not holding them”. The foundation of good organisation is writing everything down, having clear goals and objectives and effectively managing your time around this.
Of course, there’s plenty of strategies for becoming more organised, from the simplicity of the Pomodoro Method to Allen’s GTD strategy and a host of other workflow and personal organisation apps. Experiment to find out what technique works best for you but then ensure you implement it strictly.
A lot of fun was made of Mark Wahlberg’s schedule (a schedule which begins at 2:30am, followed by a 3:40am workout) but there’s something to be said for early mornings – albeit not as early as his. Apple CEO Tim Cook gets up at 4:30am, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns at 5am and Proctor & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley at 5.30am. It’s a common theme.
Granted, sleep research tells us that some people are more naturally inclined towards earlier and later mornings but the simple act of trying to get up 15 minutes earlier for a week is a rewarding exercise. Studies point towards less procrastination for early risers but the most rewarding effects are a feeling of freshness and mental clarity.
It’s not for everyone but there’s a long list of notable names that swear by it. Really swear by it. Russel Simmons, founder of Def Jam records, has stated in the past that it has been one of the most influential parts of his career, while high-profile names such as presenter Joe Rogan, billionaire Marc Benioff and the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund, Ray Dalio, all nod to meditation as a pivotal part of their success.
A host of apps provide the perfect gateway into meditation, with Headspace and Calm being two of the most popular. You don’t necessarily have to go to the levels of Sapiens author Yuval Noah Harari – who meditates for an hour at the start and end of every day (his book Homo Deus was dedicated to his meditation teacher) – but 20 minutes each morning will have a notable effect on your mindset and clarity of thought.