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Here are the Little Things Highly Successful People do Differently to Get Ahead of Everyone Else

Mon October 15, 2018

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Achieving more in life doesn't have to involve monumental effort. Think about it this way: If you got out of bed five minutes earlier every day, in a month you would have 150 extra minutes to get things done. That's more than 30 hours of additional time over the course of a year. Here are some more ideas on simple daily habits which can help you get ahead of everyone else.

1. Train yourself to become comfortable with the uncomfortable.

"Transitioning from high heat to very cold situations creates a stressful environment for your body, but this should be embraced. Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable--both mentally and physically--allows you to thrive, even in the most stressful situations."

--Thomas Carlton, member of Dallien Realty's top-producing agent team, The Hudson Team, which specializes in providing advisory services to New York City landlords and developers, and domestic and international buyers, renters, sellers and investors, closing over 100 transactions annually; and model with Wilhelmina International

2. Add to good karma by paying it forward. 

"Paying it forward and solving small problems that affect the lives of many people can be very powerful and rewarding. It's the same concept as what we see every year at Burning Man. Give something to the community without expecting immediate reward and everybody's life will be richer for it."

--Ivan Novikov, CEO of Wallarm, provider of an AI-powered application protection solution used by hundreds of enterprises and SaaS companies, and number 805 in Inc. magazine's 37th annual Inc. 5000 in 2018

3. Encourage feedback and always assume positive intent.

"I encourage feedback and one habit I have come to stick to over the years is always assuming the intent behind feedback is positive. It's all too easy for ego to get in the way of being a great manager, partner, or colleague, so--regardless of who I am receiving direct feedback from--I try to remain open to the sentiment and detail. If you can overcome the human urge to be defensive and respond without understanding, feedback can make a significant difference in your daily personal and business performance."

--Zlatko Vucetic, CEO of FocusVision, an insights and analytics technology solutions provider used by 18 of the top 20 Fortune 100 companies, and the top 10 healthcare and CPG companies

4. Follow up.

"It's so simple, yet so often overlooked. Whether it's a short thank-you note or a quick email to a new contact or a gentle nudge to pursue an opportunity, I've mastered the art of the follow-up and it's now a habit in how I do business. There would be so many missed opportunities if I hadn't learned that gentle persistence is key to carving your own path."

--Shannon Lohr, founder of Factory45, an online accelerator program that launches sustainable and ethical fashion brands which has grown by 900 percent since launching in 2014

5. Wake up early.

"With more than 15,000 clients around the world and a staff dispersed across continents, getting everyone on the same page quickly is critical. I've found that by waking up each day at 4:30 a.m., I'm able to communicate and collaborate more effectively with my colleagues in all corners of the world before my day gets busier with domestic communications and projects. Plus, I'm not only able to be more productive and efficient in the office, but also take time for myself and get a few important tasks done before the rest of the world wakes up and I have to turn on my work mode for the rest of the day."

--Dux Raymond-Sy, CMO of AvePoint, an IT services provider and Microsoft Partner of the Year award winner serving 16,000 companies and 6 million SharePoint and Office 365 users worldwide

6. Continuously challenge assumptions.

"Success comes from seeing something before others see it, or by finding ways to do something better, faster or cheaper than ever before. By nature, most people take the world around them at face value, relying on the notion that things are the way they are and don't change because 'That's the way we've always done things.' It makes sense--certainty is a comfortable way to live. I tend to look at things a little differently, instead approaching most everything in life with the question 'Why is this done the way it is done?' Typically people have a surface level answer, 'Because...,' but I always drill down about four more layers of asking 'OK, but why?' Revisiting these assumptions uncovers bad or false assumptions, opening a path to new ideas and new ways to approach problems. If you want to create more value at work or in your family life, constantly revisit the assumptions you and others make about people, beliefs, processes, contracts, language and anything else that could potentially be improved with a fresh approach. I think you'll find that your persistent curiosity can drive consistent innovation."

--Joshua Siegel, founder and CEO of StoneCastle, a financial technology company managing over $14 billion on behalf of its clients

7. Enjoy, measure and maximize every minute of your life.

"When I finally sit in my armchair in years to come... I want to be able to reflect on my life and think I could not have tried any harder or achieved much more. I have experienced all the things I wanted, worked hard, had fun and made a positive difference to my family, especially my daughters, the people around me and those I worked with and businesses I have built. Life is in your hands. Do not make excuses, take responsibility and make things happen. When certain aspects do not go as planned, it's best to move on quickly. Take responsibility to get things sorted, as focused activity in equals results out. I assure you that even when things look tough, if you keep going, circumstances will change and you will be successful and look back thinking, 'Well, that was an experience.' That's what makes life fun--it is unpredictable."

--Mark Holweger, president and CEO of the insurance division of Legal and General America, a top 10 U.S. life insurer that ended 2017 with in excess of $703 billion of coverage in force with 1.3 million U.S. customers

8. Carry a notebook into every meeting. 

"When speaking with a client, an employee, a vendor, or anyone, as a manager I need to keep track of what was discussed and what needs to happen as a result of the meeting. Can you remember what you discussed with someone two months ago? It has to be a [paper] notebook because many times a chart may be drawn on a whiteboard, or a picture might be scribbled out and those just are not easily transcribed without major interruption. I'm not a technophobe--I worked at Apple with Steve Jobs many years ago--but the technology just doesn't beat the notebook in this situation. I make all of our interns learn this skill."

--Barry L. Star, founder and CEO of Wall Street Horizon which provides corporate event data covering more than 7,000 companies worldwide and over 40 different event types  

Achieving more in life doesn't have to involve monumental effort. Think about it this way: If you got out of bed five minutes earlier every day, in a month you would have 150 extra minutes to get things done. That's more than 30 hours of additional time over the course of a year. Here are some more ideas on simple daily habits which can help you get ahead of everyone else.

1. Train yourself to become comfortable with the uncomfortable.

"Transitioning from high heat to very cold situations creates a stressful environment for your body, but this should be embraced. Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable--both mentally and physically--allows you to thrive, even in the most stressful situations."

--Thomas Carlton, member of Dallien Realty's top-producing agent team, The Hudson Team, which specializes in providing advisory services to New York City landlords and developers, and domestic and international buyers, renters, sellers and investors, closing over 100 transactions annually; and model with Wilhelmina International

2. Add to good karma by paying it forward. 

"Paying it forward and solving small problems that affect the lives of many people can be very powerful and rewarding. It's the same concept as what we see every year at Burning Man. Give something to the community without expecting immediate reward and everybody's life will be richer for it."

--Ivan Novikov, CEO of Wallarm, provider of an AI-powered application protection solution used by hundreds of enterprises and SaaS companies, and number 805 in Inc. magazine's 37th annual Inc. 5000 in 2018

3. Encourage feedback and always assume positive intent.

"I encourage feedback and one habit I have come to stick to over the years is always assuming the intent behind feedback is positive. It's all too easy for ego to get in the way of being a great manager, partner, or colleague, so--regardless of who I am receiving direct feedback from--I try to remain open to the sentiment and detail. If you can overcome the human urge to be defensive and respond without understanding, feedback can make a significant difference in your daily personal and business performance."

--Zlatko Vucetic, CEO of FocusVision, an insights and analytics technology solutions provider used by 18 of the top 20 Fortune 100 companies, and the top 10 healthcare and CPG companies

4. Follow up.

"It's so simple, yet so often overlooked. Whether it's a short thank-you note or a quick email to a new contact or a gentle nudge to pursue an opportunity, I've mastered the art of the follow-up and it's now a habit in how I do business. There would be so many missed opportunities if I hadn't learned that gentle persistence is key to carving your own path."

--Shannon Lohr, founder of Factory45, an online accelerator program that launches sustainable and ethical fashion brands which has grown by 900 percent since launching in 2014

5. Wake up early.

"With more than 15,000 clients around the world and a staff dispersed across continents, getting everyone on the same page quickly is critical. I've found that by waking up each day at 4:30 a.m., I'm able to communicate and collaborate more effectively with my colleagues in all corners of the world before my day gets busier with domestic communications and projects. Plus, I'm not only able to be more productive and efficient in the office, but also take time for myself and get a few important tasks done before the rest of the world wakes up and I have to turn on my work mode for the rest of the day."

--Dux Raymond-Sy, CMO of AvePoint, an IT services provider and Microsoft Partner of the Year award winner serving 16,000 companies and 6 million SharePoint and Office 365 users worldwide

6. Continuously challenge assumptions.

"Success comes from seeing something before others see it, or by finding ways to do something better, faster or cheaper than ever before. By nature, most people take the world around them at face value, relying on the notion that things are the way they are and don't change because 'That's the way we've always done things.' It makes sense--certainty is a comfortable way to live. I tend to look at things a little differently, instead approaching most everything in life with the question 'Why is this done the way it is done?' Typically people have a surface level answer, 'Because...,' but I always drill down about four more layers of asking 'OK, but why?' Revisiting these assumptions uncovers bad or false assumptions, opening a path to new ideas and new ways to approach problems. If you want to create more value at work or in your family life, constantly revisit the assumptions you and others make about people, beliefs, processes, contracts, language and anything else that could potentially be improved with a fresh approach. I think you'll find that your persistent curiosity can drive consistent innovation."

--Joshua Siegel, founder and CEO of StoneCastle, a financial technology company managing over $14 billion on behalf of its clients

7. Enjoy, measure and maximize every minute of your life.

"When I finally sit in my armchair in years to come... I want to be able to reflect on my life and think I could not have tried any harder or achieved much more. I have experienced all the things I wanted, worked hard, had fun and made a positive difference to my family, especially my daughters, the people around me and those I worked with and businesses I have built. Life is in your hands. Do not make excuses, take responsibility and make things happen. When certain aspects do not go as planned, it's best to move on quickly. Take responsibility to get things sorted, as focused activity in equals results out. I assure you that even when things look tough, if you keep going, circumstances will change and you will be successful and look back thinking, 'Well, that was an experience.' That's what makes life fun--it is unpredictable."

--Mark Holweger, president and CEO of the insurance division of Legal and General America, a top 10 U.S. life insurer that ended 2017 with in excess of $703 billion of coverage in force with 1.3 million U.S. customers

8. Carry a notebook into every meeting. 

"When speaking with a client, an employee, a vendor, or anyone, as a manager I need to keep track of what was discussed and what needs to happen as a result of the meeting. Can you remember what you discussed with someone two months ago? It has to be a [paper] notebook because many times a chart may be drawn on a whiteboard, or a picture might be scribbled out and those just are not easily transcribed without major interruption. I'm not a technophobe--I worked at Apple with Steve Jobs many years ago--but the technology just doesn't beat the notebook in this situation. I make all of our interns learn this skill."

--Barry L. Star, founder and CEO of Wall Street Horizon which provides corporate event data covering more than 7,000 companies worldwide and over 40 different event types