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4 Things Successful People Never Do

Things Successful People Never Do

People often ask the question, "What does it take to be successful?" The specific answer is different for every context, but more often than not the reply is to perform 3-5 actions relating directly to what one wishes to be successful at, and 1-2 character changes or behaviors that are indirectly related, such as "read this book" or "be disciplined in a framework that works for you." After asking this question, myself, to dozens upon dozens of people I view as successful, I've realized several things that successful people don't do.

When I use the term "successful," I'm referring to someone who has risen to the top of their field, usually very rapidly, who has become a very well-respected leader and teacher in that field. The following four points are not based on what (very little, if any) success I've had, but on what I've discovered through discussions with those who are and have been very successful. To fully understand each point, you would do well to read the descriptions rather than just skim the headers.

1. Sleep In

It seems like a no-brainer, but I can't say I've ever known someone successful to get up after 7am. Those who have done well avoid slow starts to their day. They don't stay up late, and are typically up and about before the rest of the world. Resting for successful people doesn't mean sleeping in, it means using that "free time" to read, do yard work, go to church, exercise, volunteer, research (for pleasure), join committees, or enjoy weekend getaways. Successful people are constantly active in something that is fulfilling and self-actualizing.

"But I'm a night owl, I can't function that way." It doesn't matter. Do you really think you're the only one like that? Those who are successful don't stay up to catch Jimmy Fallon. They get up early to read, exercise, and plan their day. If you're current body clock isn't on that kind of time, change it. If it's a drastic time change, it takes about a month to develop the proper habits, so you'll need to be disciplined and decide this is what you actually want.

2. Accept Excuses or Failure

Everyone's familiar with the "no excuses; failure's not an option" philosophy, but not many (including myself) put that into practice. To be fair, there's a very fine line in teaching this concept between being a terrible manager and growing someone. This is a mindset that has to be internalized. If I know I have to get up at 5am to work out, plan my day, and get ready before 7am, "I'm too tired to get up" really cannot be acceptable to me or to those I've asked to keep me accountable. If I know I have to set 10 meetings today for whatever reason, the fact that it's already 5pm and I've got 9 set cannot be acceptable. If I know I need to practice a particular facet of my craft for 3 hours today, and by 8pm I've only practiced for 2 hours, I still have another hour of work before bed.

Don't stop until you've surpassed the mark you set for yourself. If you stop prematurely, you're only setting a precedent for what you'll do next time, creating negative habits. If you think one or two times isn't a big deal, do a bit of research on neural pathways. Successful people have their goals. They know what they have to do to accomplish those goals. They do it. No questions. No excuses. Successful people are reading this having to Google what the word "failure" means because it's not in their vocabulary.

3. Dress Like Everyone Else

Simple and possibly cooky, successful people do not dress like everyone else in their demographic. Whether it's a sock and shoe combination, extra hair care, constantly making an artistic statement, or wearing a suit every day of the week, those who are successful dress like someone who has already been where they want to be for decades.

They don't look like an up-and-coming anything, and especially don't look the part only during "working hours." Successful people always dress how they ideally want to be perceived. They look like they've made it big before they've come anywhere close to doing so. They set a precedent for themselves and how others should view them from the very start. In time, those around you cannot see you as anything other than how you've chosen to portray yourself.

4. Think for Themselves

Seems counterintuitive, doesn't it? Aside from the rare Facebook and Apple situations of the world, where one or a few person(s) has a novel idea and works their tail(s) off for it, those who have been successful are the ones that didn't try to reinvent the wheel. Somebody (if not thousands) before them figured out a method to follow to reach necessary goals. Often this method has been found in the midst of many failures and learning opportunities.

If you're an athlete, your coach has learned there are certain things to instruct you to do, and if you follow those insights you'll do well. That coach would also know that there are certain things that appear to be really helpful, but aren't in practice, or aren't as beneficial as other options.  In business, if you follow the numbers and ratios placed before you, you'll succeed - that's pretty straight forward. In music, there are certain practices to help one improve their technical and theoretical skills.

Those who are successful in these and most other areas are those who don't try to come up with some new way to get where they want to be. They listen to the numbers, to the processes, to their mentors who've been there before them. They put their heads down and do it. No questions, no overthinking. The statement I've heard a thousand times over is, "Don't overthink it, just do it, and don't worry about why or how. Trust me. You'll be thankful you did."