Surprising habits of successful people

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You’ve heard some of the things that all successful people have in common – they get up early, they delegate and they stick to a schedule but many also have habits that seem counterintuitive to success. These surprising habits are actually brilliant strategies that keep them at the top of their game.  Here are some of them:


Quitters never win, and winners never quit, or so the saying goes. But knowing when to walk away and being courageous enough to start anew is something that successful people do numerous times in their career. They realise their mistake, they move on, and most importantly, they keep learning as they go. Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed before he revolutionised mass production and turned Ford Motor Company into one of the world’s biggest businesses.

Being hands on

Many successful people are self-made and started their businesses from scratch. Therefore it should come as no surprise that they do the mundane tasks, right down to washing the dishes in the office kitchen. They are involved at every level of business even as the company grows, because that’s what they did from the beginning – and they believe every task, big or small is equally vital to their organisation.

Keeping a diary

Oprah Winfrey keeps one and founding Google board member Ram Shriram swears by documenting your daily performance. “To create a manual for what has worked and what hasn’t in your business – documenting it ensures we’ll always remember it,” he says. A working paper from Havard Business School appears to confirm that daily reflections on our working day helps increase performance and success.

Taking time out

Yes, high-powered people put in the hours, but many of them also recognise the importance of a routine that includes downtime. Some of the world’s most well-known high flyers ritually use their weekends as switching off time, indulging in simple pleasures such as spending time with family and taking the dogs for a walk . Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior has a Saturday “digital detox”, while Malcolm Gladwell reads the papers over a leisurely breakfast.

Being humble

More often than not successful people display humility: when you see or hear someone speaking of their accomplishments, they will utter the phrase “I didn’t expect” or “I had no idea…” Underestimating their own ability or the demand for a product or service they are producing is often the key to why it worked out; they hustled and they pushed it that bit harder as they didn’t take things or granted. Warren Buffet, the most successful investor of the 20th century, defines humility as “knowing the edges of your own competence” so that you can play to your strengths and ask for help with your weaknesses.

Helping others

High flyers don’t just focus on their own personal gains, they are also just as likely to assist others in their quest for success. They see their role in life as ensuring they provide the best service and most value to society, and freely share ideas and time to help projects outside of their own.

Kayleigh Ziolo is a freelance journalist and writer based in Ireland.

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