In all the "interview with a successful person" podcasts that I've listened to lately, a few patterns have emerged. Here are the things that most of the guests -- famous writers, athletes, business leaders, et cetera -- have in common:
1. They don't eat much, if anything, for breakfast.
This saves time and calories. I suspect that these people primarily benefit from being able to get on with their work in the morning in lieu of languishing over a large meal. From a health-related perspective, it doesn't matter if you eat breakfast:
2. They write a lot.
This is primarily true of professional writers, but you'd be surprised at how many successful people keep diaries or write for fun on a regular basis. I don't write very often, because when I do, I get sucked into it and have a hard time making myself stop. I can happily write for hours and hours and hours, but I've also got other stuff that needs doing.
I've seen diaries for sale that have one line for each day. They are designed to make you distill your thoughts into one or two precious nuggets. Maybe writing like that would provide the cognitive benefits of regularly recording your memories and ideas without allowing you to waste a lot of time. Then again, the act of compressing your thoughts may take more time than just spewing them all out for hours on end, as Pascal once noted:
3. They drink a lot of coffee and tea.
It's a lot easier to be brilliant and successful when you regularly imbibe mild stimulants -- especially delicious, indulgent stimulants.
4. They meditate.
Meditation is growing in popularity in the U.S, especially among people who are or want to become high-performers.
I've been "meditating" (the word is in quotations because I suck at it and am not sure if I can claim to REALLY be doing it) for years. It all started during my first job out of college, when I worked as an inside sales person and had to sit in a noisy call center make cold calls all day to people who wanted me dead before I ever opened my mouth to speak. That job sucked. I'd come home from work so stressed out and full of negative feelings that I wanted to punch everything. I'd toss and turn in bed at night, so pumped full of adrenaline that I couldn't sleep. The only thing that sometimes helped me calm down was listening to guided meditations by Andrew Johnson. Now I also listen to Tara Brach and try to meditate on my own. A lot of the successful people who are interviewed in these podcasts mention the app Headspace as a good tool for learning meditation.
5. They figure out what works for them.
Tim Ferriss tries to uncover commonalities among the successful people he interviews. There are some common themes among them, but one thing that I find interesting is how different all of them are. There is not a single road to glory. There are all kinds of ways to get what you want out of life, and since we're all so unique, the ways that work best for you may be incredibly different from the ways that worked for this famous guy or that famous gal.*
It's good to study how other people have realized their goals. You can learn a lot from them. But ultimately, you have to go out on your own and apply these theories in the field. Your results may vary, and that's ok.
*Most of the people who are interviewed in the podcasts I listen to are males over the age of 40. I wonder if the patterns would be different among successful people who were all 35 and younger or all female.