I love reading biographies of great people — warriors, titans, artists, athletes, crusaders for a cause. There’s a theme that runs across them.
Not only did those people have historic impact. They’re full of foibles and flaws.
Sometimes, it’s shocking what poor judgment or bad behaviors such brilliant people could exhibit. That is, at least when they were out of the public view.
And still, they changed the world.
This matters to you and me.
It’s easy to tell yourself that ________________ (fill in the blank with your favorite icon or respected friend) could change the world — but that you can’t.
After all, this person had all of those superhuman qualities of intelligence, speed, creativity, courage, and so on. They’ve had buildings or cities or shoes named for them.
But you? You can’t even get your kids to say hi when you walk in the door.
You see the double standard, right?
You judge those epic figures by their public image. That’s usually a scrubbed, managed presentation of who they are.
By contrast, you have much more information available about yourself. It’s not limited to your public image.
You also get to listen to your inner thoughts, which can get pretty nasty toward yourself or others.
You watch yourself when you’re being unreasonable or overly reactive. You’ve had a front row seat every time you failed.
Of course, you’ll lose in any comparison between the whole of you and the press-kit version of them.
Think I’m making this up?
Go read a biography of any person you revere. If it was well-researched and reported honestly, you’ll find a person who did brilliant things and who screwed up plenty. (Here’s a list of some of my favorite biographies if you’re up for the read.)
But there is something that matters…
There’s no silver-bullet list of success qualities, but there are some common threads that run across the history-makers we respect.
One in particular is their habits.
Their daily habits. Their habits of thinking. Their habits of connecting with others. Their habits of preparation. The habits that mattered to them.
They didn’t share the exact same habits. But they relied on specific habits, thoughtfully chosen to shape them.
It’s true for every high performer I’ve ever worked with, also. The habits you choose deliberately are a key differentiator.
Think of anything great you do, today.
You didn’t just luck into it. You used one or more habits to build that talent.
What do you do over and over?
That’s a habit. It’s defining the person you are. It’s shaping the person you’re becoming.
If you want someone to write a book about you someday, it’s time to set up your life so you have to do the smart, little things over and over.
I’ll write more about habits in future posts, but take an inventory now.
You can answer this for yourself better than anyone.
Who is the amazing history-maker you’re determined to become? What are the small number of things you’ll need to do repeatedly to become that person, even when no one else is doing them?
Answer this question well and you could change your future.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat……