Why do so many Indian people dominate spelling bees — including me?
After all, I was #9 in Northern California.
So how’d I do it?
(Probably the real question my parents want to know is: “Why weren’t you #1?”)
Here’s the politically correct answer: Oh, I was just fortunate to be blessed with spelling ability…I’m not good at a lot of stuff, but I lucked out on this one.
Here’s the actual truth: When I came home from 6th grade, I would grab a snack, then my mom and I would open up a spelling book — literally, a book with thousands of words — and we would start practicing. For about 2 hours a day.
On weekends? 3 hours a day.
These are the habits that nobody successful tells you about — in spelling bees, creating a $10 million business, getting a 6-pack, or being incredibly successful in dating.
In fact, successful people openly LIE about what it takes! They’ll use words like “Just find your passion!” (while obscuring the endless amount of time they spent perfecting their craft). In dating, they’ll say “Don’t ever settle!” while skipping over the amount of time they put into looking better, improving their attitude, and the countless nights they went out to meet new people.
Why doesn’t anyone tell the truth about what it takes to be successful?
2 very simple reasons.
- Everyone would hate you. America loves to celebrate “effortless” success, so if you talk about the exact way you’re successful — whether it’s in dating, money, or fitness — the backlash comes quickly.
- These secret habits are so unconscious, you don’t even realize you do them.
I want to show you exactly what I mean. Let’s take one of the most contentious topics of all: women’s fitness.
According to this magazine article on secret diets…
…celebrities get killer bodies because they:
- “Discover their purpose”
- “Add extra carbs to lunch” (yes, really)
God, I see these kinds of lies every week and it’s starting to drive me nuts.
Like when you turn on some talk show and the host is complimenting the celebrity guest.
Host: “Wow, you look amazing. How do you do it?”
Her: “Oh, thank you (giggles, blushes). I just try to watch what I eat!”
I FUCKING KNOW WHAT IT TAKES TO LOOK LIKE THAT. WHY DON’T YOU TELL THE TRUTH?
What if these celebrities told you how they look amazing?
They would tell you…
- “I count calories” (usually less than 1,200 calories/day)
- “I work out 5-10 times/week” (yes, sometimes twice a day)
- “I have rules of thumb I use when I eat out, like: ‘No bread. Only a teaspoon of dessert.’”
The unsurprising truth is that most people would hate them and accuse them of eating disorders, barrage them with “must-be-nice” criticism of their trainers/chefs, and rationalize how “I’d rather be happy than live like that.”
And here’s where it gets really interesting: A small group — just a select few — would lean in and want to learn more.
And best of all, they’d ask without judgement, “What are those secret rules of thumb you use to be successful?”
Which group are you?
The secret habits of successful people
Every successful person has invisible habits they use, often unconsciously. These habits are very different than what “normal” people use, often radically different.
The habits are “invisible” because either (1) they’ve been doing them so long, they’re unaware of even using them, or (2) they don’t want to share them because of how people will react.
I call these the “Secret Habits of Top Performers” — unglamorous habits that people have that can shape their entire attitude, setting them up for success.
It’s like when you walk into a high-end store and a combination of subtle things you might not even notice lets you know you’re somewhere that’s about to offer a luxury experience. It’s the attentiveness of the clerks, the use of negative space in the shelving, and the smell of the store.
Tom Ford in NYC. You can almost smell it.
Importantly, most people do not want to learn about these Secret Habits of Top Performers, because they’re hard and unsexy. But, like anything, they become a habit — and unlike bacteria and fucking adding carbs, they actually work.
My first experience with this was with my super-ripped friend, who used to tell me, “All you need to do is work out 3 times a week.” What a fun and easy-to-implement tip worthy of a magazine! So imagine my surprise when I spotted him doing some light cardio at the gym one Saturday. “Hey dude,” I said, “don’t you normally work out Mon/Wed/Fri?”
“Yeah,” he admitted. “This is my off day.”
BOOM. It blew my mind that he was still at the gym on his “off” day.
Some other examples I’ve noticed:
Notice how detailed, how “micro” these habits are. They’re never going to be in a magazine. And “normal” people would say these border on being OCD.
That’s why nobody talks about these habits: they’re not as sexy as saying “We bought this magic pill to help me lose 50lbs” or “I use this app to stay productive.”
But they work. Although subtle, and though they might pay off after YEARS, they work.
And the few people who seek them out can get amazing results, too.
Example: Here’s a friend of mine who used to play baseball. Guess what he just posted on Instagram?
A video of his daughter playing teeball in their apartment!
My parents would have never dreamed of doing this. First of all, they would have never thought to buy us a teeball set. And they never would have wanted us to play inside.
But here’s Mike, who loves baseball and obviously wants his daughter to learn it, encouraging her to hit the ball over and over.
10 years from now, it’s entirely possible that people will look at his daughter and say, “Wow, what a natural athlete.”
Sure. What they don’t see is the thousands of hours of practicing hitting a ball — and being encouraged by her dad.
It’s like our luxury store: a subtle, unglamourous thing that makes all the difference. Most times, we can’t see our own secret habits, but once you know where to look you can notice it in your friends.
What Secret Habits of Top Performers did I miss? Let me know in the comments.
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