If You Don’t Start These 10 Habits, You Won’t Be Successful
Twenty years ago, I was a college frat boy who wanted more out of life.
Sick and tired of wasting my Saturdays hungover and unproductive, I started reading biographies of successful people.
Slowly, the pathway to success revealed itself. Over the course of 20 years, I realized that building wealth, improving my health, and having deep relationships with family and friends was not about creating brand-new success systems. It was about using systems that had been around for millennia.
The secret was knowing where to find them and how to use them to create daily habits that pushed me constantly toward my biggest goals.
I’m going to spare you the same 20-year journey and give you the top 10 habits I’ve learned. Right now.
These are the same habits that made it possible for me to build multiple businesses worth millions of dollars, and they’re the same habits that now allow me to coach people like you to reach your dream destination in life.
Without further ado, my 10 habits of high-performance success:
1. Spend Time in Thoughtful Introspection
There are three primary ways to get this kind of perspective. The first comes from a coach or mentor. Have them walk you through your life as they see it, framing your vision and definition of success in the context of your daily life. That will help you isolate the obstacles that are slowing you down.
The second way is through friends and family. These are the people who know you well and care about you. They WANT to see you succeed and help you find the surest path to success. If they’re honest and upfront—as anyone who cares about you should be—then they can show you your strengths and weaknesses.
Lastly, it’s important to look at yourself from the outside in. You can do that by walking through the exercises in ETR University, or filling out my 90-day planner. In either case, you’ll be able to see yourself with a measure of objectivity and focus that you didn’t have before.
2. Clear Your Head Clutter
For many people, the obstacles to success are not external but internal. So clear out the junk that’s cluttering your mind. Share your questions, worries, doubts, and fears with trusted friends. Don’t be isolated. If you need help, ask for it.
There’s no shame in it—it’s one of the bravest things you can do.
3. Get Complete Clarity on What Matters to YOU
This ties in with your vision, of course. Make sure that whatever you’re doing in life really matters—that you’re the master of your own direction. Sure, family will try to talk you into this or that, friends will counsel you to take certain actions, and, of course, business associates will push for you to make specific decisions. But nobody can stand in your shoes with the full knowledge of your own needs, dreams, and ambitions.
Make sure you go through the Perfect Life Vision Exercise to help you define this clearly.
4. Build Automatic Discipline Through Accountability
Back when I was running my fitness business, I used to run a weight loss transformation contest. It was pretty simple: Turbulence Training (TT) customers were encouraged to post pictures of themselves before and after using my workouts. If they hit their fitness goals with TT, they would get a cash prize.
But you know what was even more incentivizing than cash? Public accountability. The moment these TT followers put up their “before” pictures and publicly announced their intentions to hit a specific fitness goal, they were instantly accountable to everyone. The whole fitness world could call them out for slipping or not following through.
That kind of public accountability created automatic discipline. And, no surprise, I ended up giving away $150,000 in prizes to people who nailed their fitness goals. It was amazing and proved that public accountability is key to follow-through.
5. Lean into Rejection and Weakness
I don’t know a single person who doesn’t fear rejection. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a sales call gone wrong or a relationship that goes sour. We all hate rejection.
But rejection is how we learn. Failure is what teaches the lessons we need to make us better, stronger, more high-performing people. Weakness is our path to strength.
So lean into rejection and weakness. Don’t frame an experience by the possible negative outcomes. Instead, see it entirely in a positive light. If you succeed on a sales call, remind yourself of the discipline, tools, and techniques you used to succeed. If you fail, examine the call objectively. What could have gone better? What did you learn?
I’ve got a powerful example of this in action.
I had a friend named Sean Stephenson who was an amazing speaker. Sadly, he passed away in August of 2019, but has left an incredible legacy behind. He’s got YouTube videos that have been watched millions of times! No joke, this guy was incredible.
But his life wasn’t perfect. He had a disease (osteogensis imperfecta) that made his bones incredibly brittle.
In fact, he’d broken his bones over 280 times. Plus, he was only three feet tall and used a wheelchair.
But that didn’t stop him from becoming one of the world’s most inspiring speakers.
In fact, he taught me the value of doing one positive thing every day that scares you. I’ve committed, and while I sometimes fail, I always get back up and try again. Why? Because the lessons, relationships, and wisdom I have gained have been invaluable.
Sean taught me to lean in to weakness. Do the same, and you’ll experience incredible personal and professional growth.
6. Master Self, Environment, and Time
Most people think high-performance habits are all the same. You know, get up at 6 a.m., drink 2 liters of water first thing in the morning, do yoga for 30 minutes, meditate for another 30 minutes, and so on.
These are, indeed, examples of self-mastery, but the specifics hinge on the individual. Mastering yourself—including your triggers, your creative sparks, and your motivational switches—means identifying the goals that will make YOU successful. That’s what the Perfect Life Vision Exercise is all about.
Once you know these things you can master your environment and time to serve your biggest goals. If you want to get up earlier—and ensure you don’t go back to sleep—put your alarm across the room so you have to get up to turn it off.
If you want to do morning yoga, set your mat and yoga clothes on the floor next to you so they’re the first things you see when you wake up. And if you want to make sure all of your time is used wisely, then do a brain dump of all of your to-dos at night so when you wake up, a task list is ready for you.
Remember: High performers don’t leave things to chance or other people. They control themselves, their environments, and their time.
7. Do Deep Work Daily
I’ve preached this for a while, but it really is at the heart of forward progress in your life. Take 15 minutes (at least) and do deep work on your number-one goal each and every day. Everybody has 15 minutes to spare—and yes, that might expand to 30 minutes some days. But you’ll very soon see the value in that time when you witness the results unfold in mere weeks and months.
So turn off your cell phone, the computer, the TV. Remove all of your distractions and do the deep work.
If you don’t, you’ll never move forward.
8. Commit to Kaizen
Literarily translated from Japanese as “improvement,” Kaizen is a commitment to constant self-betterment. Bedros Keuilian, my friend and mentor, is a master of kaizen living. As he puts it, kaizen is the “constant and never-ending improvement of oneself until the very last breath.”
In other words, you can get better every single day. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your dreams may be, or what obstacles are blocking your path. You can make your relationships better, your productivity better, your time management better, your skills better—there’s nothing that you can’t improve.
Just commit to kaizen and watch it work.
9. Say NO to Almost Everything
This quote from Warren Buffett is dead on, and I absolutely love it: “The difference between successful people and VERY successful people is that very successful people say ’no’ to almost everything.”
Now, we’ve all seen Buffett as a talking head on TV—a lot. It may seem that’s all he does, but no. He actually spends 90% of his time sitting at a desk reading financial analyses. That’s why he’s become the greatest investor in the world—because he turned down pundit gigs and speaking engagements so he could become better at his job.
He just said “no.”
You need to do the same thing. You have to say “no” to clients who ask for an hour and 15 minutes when their contract only allows for an hour; you have to say “no” to writing emails that don’t move the needle in your work; you have to say “no” to networking events that don’t connect with you people who will add value to your life or your business; and you have to say “no” to people who play on your kindness for their own benefit.
Remember your priorities. If you commit to things that take your focus and attention away from them, then learn to say “no.”
10. Get Accountability from Someone You Do Not Want to Disappoint
I mentioned accountability in #4, but this step takes it a bit further.
For me, this accountability comes from my mentor and friend Bedros, as well as my business partner Matt Smith and my friends Joel Marion and Jason Ferruggia.
Years ago, I used to be a jerk—really rude to people for no reason. But every time I acted that way, these guys would give me a look—and it changed me. It was their way of holding me accountable for my actions and pushing me to level up.
I’m still rude sometimes, but I’m so much better today than I was five years ago—all because I don’t want to disappoint the guys I looked up to.
So find that person in your own life that you never want to disappoint. Ask them to hold you accountable to your goals, to becoming a better person. You life will change in short order because of it.
You might be saying to yourself, “Craig, these habits are obvious.” But high performers—the ones you know in your own life who have achieved tremendous success—don’t shake their heads at these habits, assuming they’re common sense. They take them seriously and commit to action steps so they live each one daily.
If you want to achieve the same kind of success, start taking these habits seriously. Not tomorrow, not when it’s convenient. Today.
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