The gap between average people and and the majority of successful people isnt that significant. While there are some individuals who are born with incredibly high IQs, monetizable skills, or magnetic personalities that allow them to move up in life, and there are some who simply got lucky, most people arent that far apart from one another, and the differences are largely controllable anyone can become somebody.
What do successful people do that makes the difference? Its not that theyre taking huge risks or making decisions that are massively different than yours, like attending one university over another, pursuing a certain career field, learning a specific language, or building connections with powerful people. These are big things, and while these choices and activities may play a role, the real answer is theyre doing a few small things well.
Who is the most successful person you know? Chances are you can name several things theyve done, but youre focusing on the big accomplishments theyve made. This is a master list of the small things highly successful people are doing on a regular basis to achieve success.
1. They prioritize productivity over busyness
Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur and author of The 4-Hour Work Week, is famous for stating that most things in life make no difference. We are so inundated with the idea that being busy is good that we prioritize it over everything else even productivity. Ferriss labels most busyness as a form of mental laziness and indiscriminate action.
We know that activity does not equal productivity, and busyness does not equal business, productivity coach Grace Marshall says. But theres still something incredibly seductive about being busy. Because being busy feels productive.
Successful people know this and pursue productivity over busyness, even if productivity doesnt feel as busy as it should.
2. They get up early
The saying that the early bird gets the worm is just that, a saying right? Not so. Successful people do tend to get up earlier than the rest of the population, which shows there is truth to this oft-repeated mantra. According to a study conducted by Christopher Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, and published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, early birds do better in business than night owls.
They tend to get better grades in school, which gets them into better colleges which then leads to better job opportunities, Randler notes. Morning people also anticipate problems and try to minimize them. Theyre proactive.
How early should you wake up? That depends on other factors, but its a good idea to give yourself between one and two hours of undistracted time in the morning before having to get the kids ready, rush off to work, or get involved in your daily busyness.
3. They look good
Successful people tend to have good appearance or at least they think they do! There are numerous studies which suggest that our perceived appearance directly affects our level of confidence in social and business settings. In other words, when I was a teenager and my father used to tell me the way I dressed affected how I behaved, he was on to something.
Putting on formal clothes makes us feel powerful, and that changes the basic way we see the world, says Abraham Rutchick, lead author on a study that looked at how business attire has a psychological impact on the confidence of the individual.
But its not just about choosing one suit over another. For women especially, confidence is often rooted in finer details such as pairing the right jewelry with the right outfit.
While what you wear wont mean the difference between success and failure, it does provide a much-needed boost. If you dont think you look good, then you probably wont perform well enough to be successful. Its a small detail that makes a big difference.
4. They Are Willing to Delay Gratification
In the 1960s, Stanford professor Walter Mischel began conducting a series of psychological studies that would last for more than four decades. The study looked at hundreds of children between the ages of four and five and has given us a better understanding of how one simple quality often serves as the underlying foundation for later success.
Known as The Marshmallow Experiment, the study involved bringing children into a private room one by one and sitting them down in a chair in front of the table. On the table, researchers placed one marshmallow. The researcher then presented an offer to the child. He told the child that he was going to leave the room and that the child could eat the marshmallow while he was away. However, if the child was able to wait until the researcher returned, they would get two marshmallows instead of just one.
As you can imagine, watching children react to this experiment was rather amusing. But the results were more than just entertainment. They revealed something powerful about the human psyche. Some children ate their marshmallow and others patiently waited for the researcher to return so that they could get two. And while this was interesting in and of itself, its the follow-up studies over the last 40 years that have made the experiment even more valuable.
As the children grew up, researchers tracked their progress in a number of areas and found some interesting results.
The children who were willing to delay gratification and waited to receive the second marshmallow ended up having higher SAT scores, lower levels of substance abuse, lower likelihood of obesity, better responses to stress, better social skills as reported by their parents, and generally better scores in a range of other life measures, behavioral coach James Clear explains.
Whats the connection? It appears to be rooted in the concept of delayed gratification. Children who are willing to delay gratification in order to receive something greater down the road turn into adults who are willing and able to do the same. And as we know from simple observation, delayed gratification tends to lead to better results.
While the ability to delay gratification is largely innate, it is something that can be coached and trained (to a degree). By focusing on constructive ways to delay your gratification, you can increase your chances of finding success.
Success is in the Details
The problem with trying to emulate someone elses path to success is that theyve dealt with different situational factors. And while you have to take anyone elses advice with a grain of salt and consider how it applies to your own life, the small habits and behaviors listed in this article are backed by research as providing long term success for large numbers of people.
Try adopting some of these habits in your own life and see what differences you notice.