9 EASY-TO-STEAL HABITS OF THE SUPER SUCCESSFUL

Get up insanely early

It works for Paul Dejoe.

Keep promises, no matter how small

Success is built on mutually trusting relationships with just about everybody. If you say you're going to walk the office dog? Well, you'd best walk the office dog.

Learn how to tell stories
Lead, don't dictate

Because there's a big difference between being a leader and being a boss.

Don't be afraid of--or embarrassed by--your failures

Sir James Dyson, creator of the famous Dyson vacuum (who recently came by and vacuumed the Fast Company offices), is no stranger to failure. In fact, he embraces it.

Ask questions, a lot of them
Be honest--with yourself and others

Delusion is a double-edged sword. When it comes to productivity, tricking yourself can be your best move, but if your career is hurting other (more important) aspects of your life it might be time to re-evaluate your priorities.

Take breaks

You don't have to completely unplug, but the effects of removing yourself for a few days, hours, or even weeks, can do wonders for your sanity and enable you to refocus your aspirations.

Take notes and stay organized

9 Easy-To-Steal Habits Of The Super Successful

We wish there was a handbook for success, but there isn't. Here's the next best thing: a list of ways you can realize your dreams—and be a more productive person in the process.

Wouldn't it be great if success was simple?

But it isn't.

There's no one-size-fits-all answer for success in work and life, but we will do our best to steer you in the right direction.

Here's a list of helpful habits of some highly successful—and wildly productive—people to get your started. On your mark, get set, and...

Get up insanely early

It sounds scary, we know, but consider what would happen if instead of watching reruns of bad movies at night, you went to bed at a reasonable hour, thus allowing yourself to wake up early and be SUPER productive?

Waking up before anybody else allows you to work out the logistics of the day to come, track your time, and (most importantly) unplug for a few hours.

Take Paul Dejoe, who gets up at 4 a.m. (you heard that right) for maximum productivity:

What I was depriving myself from was time in the day where there was no pressure and no expectations. For the same reasons that I felt most creative on Saturday mornings and on planes, 4 a.m. has become a place of productive peace. That feeling is why I love what I do. I don't need a vacation. I don't need to step away. I just need a couple hours a day before anyone else is up.

After all, the early bird catches the worm—and much more, apparently.

Keep promises, no matter how small

Talk is cheap and meaningful customer relationships are built on promises. Same goes for your personal life, right?

Well, maybe.

Success is built on mutually trusting relationships with just about everybody. If you say you're going to walk the office dog? Well, you'd best walk the office dog.

Learn how to tell stories

You want to be successful in life, but you don't have a job, or you're looking for a new one. The first step to nail that dream job? Learn how to tell a great story—starting with your interview.

Big companies know storytelling is the secret weapon to "branding." Why? Because people don't fall in love with data dumps and PowerPoint slides—they are moved by emotions.

And for those looking to be in charge, the best—and most memorable—way to make an impact and stick in people's minds is to ditch the small talk, and learn how to unspool meaningful narratives.

Want to get started? Here's how, straight from a master of improv.

Lead, don't dictate

There's a big difference between being a leader and being a boss.

Quick memo: Don't be like this guy:

Don't be afraid—or embarrassed—of your failures

Sir James Dyson, creator of the famous Dyson vacuum (who recently came by and vacuumed the Fast Company offices), is no stranger to failure. In fact, he embraces it.

I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That's how I came up with a solution. So I don't mind failure. I've always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they've had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.

Dyson's point: If you want to discover something new, you're bound to fail a few times (or in his case, 5,126 times), and that's okay. It's also okay to quit something your heart isn't into, in order to get somewhere better.

Ask questions, a lot of them

It turns out Albert Einstein would have made a great entrepreneur:

To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.

Every company needs to pause occasionally for self-reflection.

What is your purpose on this earth?

What should you stop doing?

What is your petri dish?

You've got all the answers, right?

Be honest—with yourself and others

Remember what we said about asking questions? Here's a hard one:

Are you passionate, or delusional?

Delusion is a double-edged sword. When it comes to productivity, tricking yourself can be your best move, but if your career is hurting other (more important) aspects of your life it might be time to re-evaluate your priorities.

Truth be told, I think the difference between passion and delusion isn’t even very distinguishable. I suspect many an entrepreneur has fallen too far down the rabbit hole without even realizing it. It happened to me. Maxed-out credit cards, empty cupboards, and a frustrated spouse helped me wake up to the delusion I created in myself. I was laser-focused on the belief I had to succeed no matter what, which led me to lose sight of reality. My story fortunately has a happy ending. But if I hadn’t faced that reality head-on (and it did indeed feel like a crash), I wouldn’t have been able to honestly evaluate my business and redirect toward a healthier course.

Take breaks

Here at Fast Company, we devoted an entire month to Unplugging, or taking a breather from the endless hum of the digital world.

You don't have to completely unplug, but the effects of removing yourself for a few days, hours, or even weeks, can do wonders for your sanity and enable you to refocus your aspirations.

A perfect example: Stuck on an idea? Take a walk.

Take notes and stay organized

If you're trying to delve deeper than surface level engagement, try taking notes.

It might sound silly, but put some genuine effort into it—note-taking is an important key to keeping your mind organized, and understanding better what it is you're after.

And with that, we bid adieu. If you have any habits that we've missed or should know about (like everyone else, we want to be more productive!), please share them with us in the comments. Meantime, check in here, for the latest tips and tricks for success.

[Image: Flickr user Jean]

Add New Comment

37 Comments

  • Tim Gillette

    Great tips, I so try to live by all of them. Reading this today is a reminder we can always learn from others and do more in our lives. Rock on Tim

  • Daniel Bartlett

    Interesting article - especially regarding getting up early - I would both agree and disagree - I would say that the truly effective individual is not obsessed with time - but rather with light.

    We are, for the most part, daylight creatures, not nocturnal ones - (for this reason I would imagine living close the polar extremes would make being effective in winter very difficult - I could see motivation dropping rapidly.)

    My point, although it is a strange one - is to maximize the amount of time you spend awake during daylight hours if you want to be the most effective. If the sun rises at 5am - you should get up then - if it rises at 8am, that is when you should rise.

    If you are fortunate enough to be able to choose your own hours - get rid of your alarm clock and allow your body to be your alarm.

    Since I did this I find I never feel tired - in the winter I sleep longer, in the summer I wake up earlier - this way, I achieve natural flow from the moment I wake up.

    Best wishes

  • Teresa Rothaar

    If the early bird catches the worm, then we night owls eat better than anyone: we're up as early as 12:00 a.m.!

  • Out in the Street Films

    Who determined this and by what authority? There are plenty of people who wake up late and are very successful. There are plenty more who hardly work and consider themselves successful. Look at any manager in a typical company. Managers are useless and exist to boss others around while exploiting whoever they can to get enough information to appear knowledgeable.

    And on top of all that, how do you define success? What makes you think everyone has the same definition?

  • What's more important? Success or your long-term health? How are you going to enjoy the fruits of your hard labor if you are sick/dying/dead by the time you are free to enjoy them?

    Sure, you can choose to never get any sleep and be insanely successful. Even more successful than people who live by the creed laid out in this article. But it is NOT sustainable and eventually your body will catch up with you.

    I think it's healthier and smarter to stick to what this article suggests simply for the consistency and sustainability that it promotes.

  • Usama Arshad

    Talent can be beaten, but hard work can't be. and these entrepreneurs have both.  

  • SDA

    Waking up early means getting a head start of all the other people who are unable to wake up. "Super successful" means to be way ahead of everyone else. Being able to be remembered after an interview by knowing how to tell a story also is very crucial! You want to leave your mark! Great article. Effort creates results; this is universally accepted.

  • Rob

    Socrates, "I know that I don't know" perhaps an entrepreneur from before the word. 

  • Bud Bilanich

    Brand yourself.  Figure out how you want other people to think of you.  Then make it a habit to  consistently and constantly act in a manner that will get them to do so.

  • Rob Denker

    Do the hard stuff first.  That was the advice of my father-in-law, a successful CEO.  After that, you can do the stuff you like or want to do.

  • Bud Bilanich

    You got that right Rob.  Starting with the hard stuff has two advantages.  First, you get it done, it doesn't hang over your head.  Second, it gives you a sense of accomplishment that helps you be more productive throughout the day.

  • Nathaniel Eggleston

    I've come to understand that building and maintaining meaningful relationships is above all things, one of the most important aspects of success. Some people call it networking, others call if friendships, to me it's all relationship building. The more that I know about a person and share with them the more intimate our relationship becomes and the more powerful the connection. Connections lead to opportunities and success. 

    I've also learned that being willing to be insanely imaginative in your approach helps you find and create new ways of thinking and resolving the problems you might face. Don't be afraid to think WAY outside the box. Combining unconventional tools and techniques may be just what the doctor order. 

  • Mustaza M.

    Great ideas! And yes I love the time when you wake up as early as 4 in the morning while every others are mostly still sleeping, that's when you get to focus on your projects and have a peace of mind

  • David Hoffman

    Woody Allen said that 80% of success is showing up; I couldn't agree more. It's too easy to stay in your office to "catch up" or feel you're too busy to go to that event, seminar or conference. But whenever I force myself to get out and attend, it usually results in new business opportunities or important learnings. Save the cold calling; just go out and get involved.

  • Think

    Write it down. WRITE IT DOWN! When you have an idea, write it down. When you see something different that catches your eye (and your thinking), write it down. That's a second order reinforcement. First chance you get, pull out what you wrote down and tell someone about it. Anyone. That's a third order reinforcement. Then re-write it down.