“We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then is not an act, but habit.” — Aristotle
The top performers and learners in the world were rarely born with natural talent.
What propelled them to the top of their field was their ability to form essential habits that accelerated their skills faster than anyone else.
Rather than focusing on only the outcome, world-class learners focus on the process.
Whether you want to acquire business knowledge or learn a language, here are 7 proven habits of successful people and world-class learners.
1. Set Specific Goals
Having the fastest car in the world doesn’t matter if you don’t have a final destination to arrive at.
The most successful people have insanely focused goals that they can break down each of them in detail.
An average goal:
Become fluent in Spanish
Ability to have a 30-minute conversation with a native Spanish speaker from South America in 90 days
Notice the difference?
The first goal is a general outcome that doesn’t define what fluent means nor does it have a deadline to achieve the goal.
The second goal is focused to the point where we can mentally visualize the 30-minute conversation in our minds.
All successful learners can mentally visualize the outcome in their minds.
2. Plan of Action
If focused goal setting is the final destination, then having a strategic plan of action is the map that will get us there — ideally faster and most effectively.
Let’s take our first goal for example.
Ability to have a 30-minute conversation with a native Spanish speaker from South America in 90 days.
Plan of Action:
Memorize 30 of the most common Spanish words everyday to have 2,700 words memorized in 90 days.
This action is specific, measurable, and small enough that you won’t feel overwhelmed.
*Why 30 words a day? If you have 2,700 of the most common words memorized, you’ll understand 60% of all occurrences in most languages.
3. Schedule it
One of the biggest obstacles that hold us back from learning anything is time constraint.
We already have difficulty finding time for friends and family, how are we supposed to find the time to learn something?
The trick is — scheduling.
Despite running a multi-billion dollar empire, Warren Buffett still manages to schedule time to read over 500+ pages everyday. This is anonymously the habits of successful people and top performers across all industries.
“I just sit in my office and read all day.” — Warren Buffett
The way to schedule something is not a task management app, but a tool most of us already use — our calendar.
“What Doesn’t Get Scheduled, Doesn’t Get Done.”
Here are 3 simple steps to maximize your scheduling:
i. Block off as little as 30-minutes a day to complete your task
ii. Share your calendar with an accountability partner or a friend
iii. Practice your daily task for 66 days
There will undoubtely be days where you simply do not feel like practicing or following your schedule. This is normal for anyone.
Unless you’re on the “Rob Ford” drug, it’s rare for any of us to be on our best game everyday.
When it comes to forming a powerful habit, it’s important to focus on the process, not the performance.
*Recommended: Download the mobile app for your calendar to send you reminders. This will significantly increase your ability to stick to your schedule.
For Google Calendar, you can download CalenMob:
4. Embrace Failure
The best lessons in life come from failures, not immediate success.
This is why Silicon Valley has become a hub of innovation, because they have established a culture and community that celebrates failure.
Out of all the key habits of successful people, one of the most essential habit is that they are constantly experimenting with what works and what doesn’t, while intentionally embracing the failures.
But it doesn’t matter that 8 of your ideas failed.
All you need is 1 to succeed.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
— Thomas A. Edison
5. Have a Coach
If there’s one thing that all world-class learners, successful people, and top performers have in common, it’s that they all have a coach.
According to coaches.com, coaches:
- Create a safe environment in which you see yourself more clearly;
- Identify gaps between where you are now and where you need or want to be
- Ask for more intentional thought, action and behavior changes than you thought you could accomplish
- Guide the building of the structure, accountability, and support necessary to ensure sustained commitment
This applies to athletes, business owners, language learners — the list goes on.
If you want faster, sustainable, and more effective results, you need a coach to take you to the next level.
“Accountability breeds response-ability.” — Stephen Covey
6. Know How to Listen
Without the ability to listen, we lose our ability to learn.
Successful learners have the ability to learn everywhere they go, because they always have their ears open.
“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can, there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did” — Sarah Caldwell
In today’s day and age, information is power and a competitive advantage. Why not spend your time acquiring more of it?
What’s the appropriate breakdown? I recommend the 80/20 approach:
- when you’re on a date: listen 80%, and talk 20% of the time
- when you’re in a meeting: listen 80%, and talk 20% of the time
- when you’re at a networking event: listen 80%, and talk 20% of the time.
7. Understand Your Best Learning Style
In Peter Drucker’s book Managing One Self, he states that the most important skill you can learn is self-awareness.
- Understanding how you best learn: audio, visual, and kinesthetic
- How you best work: alone, with others, as a subordinate, or as part of a team.
- Your best learning environment: at home, classroom, lecture halls, small groups.
Here’s a short summary of the book, and the questions Drucker poses.
“I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion.” — Billie Jean King
Over to you
What did you learn from the habits of successful people?
What skill are you trying to master?
Do you have any habits that has helped you learn a skill faster?
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