The One Thing All Successful People Do

I’m a sucker for clickbait headlines.

Mostly I try to utilize the internet to learn things. To sharpen my skills. To get informed or motivated or gain a different perspective.

But occasionally (daily!) even a robot like myself needs some distraction.

So when I see articles with titles like “39 Tweets That Prove Your Mom Doesn’t Understand Social Media” or “You Won’t Believe What These Celebrities Are Wearing For Halloween” I can barely resist a click.

I’m BuzzFeed’s best customer.

That being said, I feel the need to apologize for the headline on today’s post. Normally I try to create a little mystery or emotion or intrigue with my weekly lead-ins.

I want you to see the title and say “Huh, wonder what this one is about. Can’t wait to find out!”

So I’m sorry that this one is a bit on-the-nose or clickbaity (is that even a word?) but I couldn’t figure out a better way to get started than to just get to the point. So here it is…

I have a more-than-passing obsession with people who are successful at something.

Sure, it could be business. That’s the obvious application. But if you’ve had a 60 year marriage or are a virtuoso piano player or made it to the Olympics as a hammer thrower I can’t help but try to dissect what it is about you that has made you so successful.

Hard work? Genetics? Meaningful practice? Reliable and replicable systems?

Certainly all of these can and do play a role.

But there is one particular thing that I’ve seen all people who are truly successful in the long term do.

They take care of themselves.

What exactly that looks like may be different from person to person. And not every successful person starts there. We’ve all heard stories of the successful attorney who started out by sleeping 6 hours per week while working their way up the ranks to partner or the business owner who slept in his car because it was easier than commuting home before he needed to be back the next day.

But the most successful people among us graduate beyond this point and find a way to take care of their mental health, their physical well-being, their relationships, their finances, their spirituality and their happiness.

To ignore any of these things is to limit your success.

And here is the difficult truth about this – at least it’s difficult for me. To take care of yourself you need to be a bit selfish. You need to resist the urge of constantly putting the needs of others before your own, which sounds easy but if you are a parent, spouse, caretaker, business owner, clergy, teacher or carry any similar title, you know how truly difficult it is.

This may be a good time to take a step back and say that being in service to others is a wonderful, necessary and rewarding part of life. There may be nothing as valuable or as fulfilling as helping and serving others.

But this cannot come at the expense of your own well-being. You will never be able to optimally serve others if self-care is not a high priority.

You hear it every time you get on a plane. You must put on your own oxygen mask before you assist others. Good advice, whether you are in an emergency or not.

OK, I’m big on practical, applicable and pragmatic advice so let me give you some here. From everything I’ve gathered in my research, here’s a list of the things that the majority of successful people do in order to care for themselves. These are the things I see pop up over and over again.

(NOTE: Not all of them do all these things and I’m sure there are others. Don’t @ me).

They sleep on a predictable schedule. They are diligent about their nutrition. They have some sort of exercise or movement practice. They have a repeatable morning routine. They meditate or engage in a spiritual practice. They have sex regularly. They take care of their hygiene.

Mind-blowing shit, I know.

Take another look at that list and see how many (if any) of those things you are doing. Hopefully there are a few but I challenge all of you to see if you can meaningfully add one or two more of these to your self-care practice. It is New Year’s resolution time, after all.

Doing so may just be the key to happiness, success, being a better partner and enhancing every other aspect of your life.

Now that I think about it, maybe “Tech Billionaire has sex twice per day” or “Dad Of The Year’s Secret: Spa Saturday!” may have been a better title for this article.

I’ll keep working on it if you keep clicking.