5 Unusual and Counterintuitive Habits of Successful People
Most articles about the habits of successful people are total nonsense.
In fact, I once wrote an article making fun of the concept altogether.
But here I am, writing an article about the habits of successful people.
Well, there are some things you can get in the habit of doing to increase your odds of success. That’s all you get. Odds. Probabilities. Chances. Once you understand that, you understand success itself.
I’m going to put together a list of never heard before odds(or rarely mentioned) increasing success habits, which means the list won’t include:
- Reading more (although this an excellent, favorite of mine, hobby)
- Waking up at 5 a.m. (which is useful, but only if you know why you’re doing it)
- Drinking green tea. Or tea of any variety
- Finding a mentor (which is a bit overrated)
- Spending less time on your smart-phone. I’ve given up on this. I’m an addict, but I try to use my phone to learn, sometimes, when I’m not watching Joe Rogan
Ok, are you ready to have your mind blown? Here we go.
Luck is the giant elephant in the room when it comes to becoming successful. The idea of true meritocracy is impossible. We all have advantages and disadvantages we have no control over.
Not only that, sometimes people with no talent succeed. Sometimes people with great talent fail. Often, success or failure in life can be due to pure chance.
So why become a self-help writer? Why give any steps at all if it’s all chance?
It’s not all chance, but there’s a lot more chance involved than you’d think.
So what should you do?
Put yourself out there more. Send more positive energy out in the universe, expect good things, act like you’re lucky. Then, on a long enough time scale, you’ll get lucky.
This could easily be rephrased as “learn how to spot opportunities,” but I don’t think that does the concept justice. People with a bit of an irrational sense of confidence, those who feel destined, tend to find their destiny.
Who cares about the underlying mechanisms if you end up getting what you want? Of course, work hard, be prudent, focus on self-improvement. But realize those are just the tickets to the dance my friend.
When you do all of the above, you tend to put yourself in a position to get luckier. Positive people are just more attractive. Negativity repels. Maybe the metaphysical nerds are right and your aura is working for you.
Either way, actively think of yourself as lucky and try to get in the habit of getting lucky while working really hard and good things will happen.
Understand What Motivates People
Most people sleepwalk through life. They’re existing, not living. Living involves consciously observing your surroundings, especially other people.
If you get in the habit of observing people and trying to figure out what motivates them, you’ll learn how to influence people. You’ll know how to move them and get them to do what you want (for good, not evil of course).
This doesn’t mean you have to turn into Machiavelli, but you should always question peoples motivations in every interaction, realizing people are:
- Vain (even in altruism, especially maybe)
- Operating from the perspective that they are in the center of the universe
- In desperate need of meaning
- In desperate need of love
- Religious — everybody worships something
- Often well-intentioned (even if it leads to hell)
- Open to the right opportunities
This is a short-list of many, many, many variables. People are all of these at once — negative and positive.
Try to get into the habit of seeing below the surface level of interactions — your personal interactions, the interactions of others, the interaction at large… the zeitgeist. All of it.
Become a “people watcher,” in coffee shops and bars. Listen more than you talk in conversation. See the social and power dynamics that go on in everyday life.
If you get in the habit of understanding people, you’ll have psychological superpowers.
Brutal Honesty (With Yourself)
One of the biggest things I see wrong with society — people are beginning to deny human nature. They are living in fantasy land.
You can pretend like there aren’t underlying rules that govern what goes on in the third rock from the sun, but it doesn’t make these rules untrue.
In fact, if you ignore them, not only won’t you be successful, but you’ll get hurt, life will be cruel to you, and you will be blindsided when reality doesn’t meet your expectations.
For your own sake, get in the habit of understanding the things you wish weren’t true, but deep down, you know are.
I’m working on my third book right now, Real-Help. I gave it that title because I realized many self-help books paint a false, often rosy, picture of the world.
You can say affirmations and tell yourself you love yourself all you want, but that won’t keep the game around you from being played.
Read Robert Greene and any other author whose work makes you feel unsettled but makes you nod your head in agreement at the same time. That type of knowledge is everything.
You’ll know how to wield persuasion for good, know when it’s being used against you for evil, and understand the rules of the game society wants you to play.
You’ll know how to deal with other human beings, who have flaws, and sometimes harm you by accident or because they can’t help themselves.
If you can fully accept yourself, others, and the world around you — only trying to change the truly changeable — you’ll be miles ahead of the people who wish life was different, fair, and in-line with their expectations.
Understand Positions You Don’t Hold
The intellectual quality of our discourse is at an all-time low. People have forgotten how to think.
If you can’t see how someone can arrive at the position they hold, without straw-manning the shit out of it, you don’t have true intelligence.
On either side of an aisle, the people who tend to suffer most are the ones who genuinely can’t see how the other side could possibly think what they think. It’s not so much about the novelty of being “open-minded.”
No, it’s more about the fact that this type of person has an incomplete picture of reality. How can you be smart and successful if you can’t understand half of a population — millions of people?
Not only can I interact with people of all stripes, but I can see where they’re coming from. This is why my writing and messages seem so balanced.
I’m sure my readers have all sorts of beliefs, but my genuine attempts at trying to understand them helps me write in a way that cuts through everything.
When you understand many sides of many arguments you realize that…people are mostly the same, at heart. Where they deviate often just comes down to a “team sports,” mentality.
You understand the circumstances, personality traits, and even DNA makeup of different people and come to understand that they kind of have no choice but to believe what they believe. This makes you less judgmental and more understanding.
Ignore Your First Conclusion
Often, due to confirmation bias, your upbringing, and the way you perceive the world, you’ll make snap judgments of people, ideas, concepts, whatever.
This way of thinking is akin to the first objection someone makes when you try to sell them something:
- “I don’t have enough money”
- “Now is not the right time”
- “I would but [insert excuse]”
Behind the first objection is the real one:
- They don’t trust you
- They don’t think your product will work for them.
- They’ve been burned before
This is often the same way you think about anything that challenges your personal narrative.
What makes this point different than the above? Just getting into the habit of noticing how quick and fast that snap judgment happens helps you shift more quickly in real-time.
I’ve noticed this when I look at someone’s appearance and create a judgment of them chocked with stereotypes. Then, I’ll notice that and mentally tell myself to give them a chance.
This helps me treat people better at the moment, as opposed to the point above where you spend time developing a philosophy over time.
The same thinking goes for conversation. When people say something I disagree with, instead up instantly putting my devil’s advocate hat on, I’ll try to listen (even though it’s really hard).
At the end of the day, it’s about tempering my instincts. Instincts are good when they’re calibrated the right way. You need instincts to survive. But your instincts can also harm you, especially your initial ones.
Think of how many relationships and opportunities you leave on the table because of these snap, initial reactions.
Step back. Observe. Understand the real.
What True Success Means
“Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” — Bruce Lee
Most other “habits of successful” posts talk about these base-level productivity tips that don’t really move the needle.
They’re also rigid and deterministic. Read books = CEO. Morning routine = millions. Nonsense.
If you really do want to be a millionaire or super successful in business, understand that most entrepreneurs are highly adaptable, and have a deep understanding of nature.
The tips I provided are all about being adaptable, understanding, fluid, working with the world the way it is instead of the way you want it to be.
Since you can’t predict the future and no one can guarantee you success. It’s best to “be like water.”
Your problem? You want all the answers up front. All the hacks, routines, tips.
Want the adventure.
That’s all life has to offer you.
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