“We are what we repeatedly do,” said Aristotle (or, more accurately, historian Will Durant). “Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
So, what are the habits that lead to excellence? We looked to some of the most prolific entrepreneurs to see what their daily habits are – and how you can use them to become more successful.
Here are the top four daily habits of successful entrepreneurs.
They stick to a schedule
There are only 24 hours in a day, and when you’re an entrepreneur, time is of the utmost value. To get the most out of every day, successful entrepreneurs keep a strict schedule.
Ben Franklin, for example, lived by his own words: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” He kept a strict daily routine of eating, sleeping, and working, and followed ongoing self-improvement plans to focus on different virtues.
Here’s a more recent example: Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, schedules his entire day in five-minute blocks. That way, he’s able to squeeze the most out of every day. He also, reportedly, breaks up his week: On Mondays and Thursdays he focuses on SpaceX, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays he’s with Tesla; Fridays are split between both.
They read – a lot
Successful entrepreneurs make constant learning a daily habit. Case in point: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates reads 50 books per year. “It is one of the chief ways that I learn, and has been since I was a kid,” he said in a recent New York Times interview. “These days, I also get to visit interesting places, meet with scientists and watch a lot of lectures online. But reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.”
Interested in what Gates is reading? Check out his blog, Gates Notes, where he reviews everything from John Brooks’ 1969 Business Adventures (“the best business book I’ve ever read,” says Gates) to Maylis de Kerangal’s novel The Heart (“a poetic novel about grief,” he says).
Yes, working out keeps the body fit and the mind sharp, but it can have an even greater impact on an entrepreneur’s long-term success. Why? Exercise relieves stress and burnout, and helps maintain a healthy work-life balance.
There is no shortage of overachievers that attribute their success to staying fit. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, says he doubles his productivity with regular exercise (he wakes up at 5 a.m. to kite surf, swim, or play tennis).
“Keeping active is a huge part of my life. I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life), if I hadn’t always placed importance on my health and fitness,” says Branson. “Exercise puts me in a great mind frame to get down to business, and also helps me to get the rest I need each night. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing I have applied myself both physically and mentally every day.”
They keep positive
Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”
The life of an entrepreneur is full of obstacles, but what leads to success is a positive, innovative mindset. Every single day. The ability to see things in a positive light means that you’re open to see interesting and unique opportunities that others might miss.
And if you can’t stay positive, it might be time for some changes. Each morning, for example, Steve Jobs would repeat a simple mantra: “If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” If he started to answer “No” too often, he knew he needed to make a major change.
Sometimes the simplest daily habits are the most powerful.