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The habits of successful people

The Internet is full of listicles like 'The reading habits of rich people', '8 things successful people do before 8am', '5 habits of winners' and so on. Apparently, this is the most popular category of articles on the Internet in the recent months. That shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, everyone wants to be rich and successful.

We all know about correlation and causation. We know that just because there is a correlation, there need not necessarily be a causation. But that doesn't stop us from making mistakes in acting based on correlations and causations when we shouldn't really be doing so.

If you're running an e-commerce website and you observe a correlation between users who pay by credit card and users of the age group 25-35, then you market offers that can be redeemed by users that pay by credit card, to this age group. You know that just because someone is in this age group, they will not necessarily pay using a credit card. But, you focus on this age group nonetheless because getting a majority users in this age group to buy in to your offers is enough for you. This is an example of a situation where you take a decision based on correlation.

If you're not from one of the top colleges in the country, and yet want to apply for a job that is traditionally filled by graduates from top colleges, you don't shy away from applying. If you really want it, you'll figure out what it takes to get hired and do that and apply. You might still not be hired. Or you might be. But you wouldn't leave that decision to correlation and not apply at all. Because, in this case, you are dealing with one person, you, and not a large population.

Getting accepted into the club of successful people or the club of rich people is a lot similar. You might read all you can about the common traits and common habits of these people and try to do the same things in your own life. You can treat what others have done as a blueprint, a guide, and follow it to the letter and still not see the results you expect. You might still find yourself knocking at a door that doesn't open, at the end of it all.

Because these aren't meant to be blueprints. These are simply what is documented of the people that made it to the club. Remember that you only hear the stories of the people that survive.

An old story that highlights this is of the sailors that prayed to God and survived shipwrecks. Everyone who survived shipwrecks prayed to God. But that may not be the reason why they survived. For all you know, those who died at sea also prayed to God, but died nonetheless. We never hear of their stories because they aren't around to tell us.

As it is with the club of successful people. The thousands of others that also had similar habits but didn't make it to the club are almost never heard.

The path to success is not in remodelling our lives to follow the habits of successful people, but to figure out what makes us tick and what brings out the best in us.

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