“The successful people we look up to, the superheroes, are weird, neurotic creatures.”
When I first stumbled across that line in a Tim Ferriss novel, I didn’t quite understand it. I’ve always believed the actors, athletes, writers, musicians and academics we admire are normal people who harbor an abnormal level of natural ability.
But after years of combing through books and listening to podcasts about the world’s most successful people, I get it now.
The entire lives of these “superheroes”* are structured around atypical behaviors that most of us would deem...weird and neurotic.
And it is these very practices that propel our idols to the top and help them stay there.
The harsh reality is, if you want to experience professional success to the highest degree, you’ll need to adopt superhuman discipline, declining invitations and giving strange explanations for your behavior along the way.
Friends, family and coworkers will wonder what’s wrong with you.
Strangers will wonder what your “deal” is.
It’s uncomfortable. It’s scary.
But if you’re not upsetting people, you’re not doing it right.
Adopt the “three Rs” now and I promise you will put yourself on the path toward the life you deserve.
It’s not an easy or pleasant life (and it’s not cut out for everyone).
But it is a rewarding one.
Our superheroes are Regimented
According to legend, President Obama, when reading briefs in the Oval Office at the end of a long work day, ate the same late night snack every night: seven almonds.
With all options in the culinary world available to him at the click of a button, the leader of the Free World opted for the same number of almonds every night. One more nut might have flustered him, one less may have unsatisfied him.
So many of our heroes live extremely controlled and organized lives, with every detail of their days planned out in advance. Deviations from those plans cause anxiety, which leads to less-than-optimal performance when dealing with our daily tasks, which leads me to the next R of success.
Our superheroes are Routine-Oriented
The world’s most successful people establish habits and routines, especially in the morning, that allow them to perform at high levels.
They eat the same thing for breakfast every day. They go to bed at the same time every night.
They take a post-dinner walk every dusk.
Drinking enough water matters. Getting outside matters. Exercising matters. Sleep matters. Food quality matters.
It’s mundane. It’s repetitive. It’s uncreative.
But it’s the key.
It’s the routines that ground them, that prepare them and armor them for all of life’s curveballs.
When outer chaos threatens this stability, our superheroes double down on their routines, finding solace in the familiarity.
Our superheroes are Restrictive
Success and discipline go hand-in-hand.
It means saying no to happy hour. It means not going to the movies.
Will it upset people around you?
Will friends talk about you behind your back?
Will co-workers reconsider inviting you next time?
But one day, when you’re looking down on them from the mountaintop, they’ll understand.
They’ll see that you were right all along. And they’ll want to adopt the same regiments, routines and restrictions that you once did.
But by that point, it will be too late.
Because youth is the best time to establish the habits of success. The older you get, the more rigid you become, and the more difficult it is to change decades of established destructive behaviors.
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*superheroes: people of prominence that are well-known, financially strong and universally respected