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The Top 50 Habits of all time – Part 3



Barack Obama

The number #1 single most important factor in your success is your habits.

Habits are even more important than your goals and dreams, because it’s not about what you want or wish for that makes a difference to your life, but what you do consistently and repeatedly day after day. Think about it: It’s not about what you do 5% of the time, but what you do 95% of the time that makes a difference.

If you have the right habits in place you will succeed. In fact, even if you do the right things accidentally or without thinking you will succeed. Or as Sadhguru said: “Even if you do the right things for the wrong reasons you still win.” 

In this weeks article we continue the countdown of the top 50 habits of all time. These habits are awesome and life changing and if you adopt them they will change your life forever for the better…

30. Peer Review 

Friends, Listening, Peer Review

“The dread of criticism is the death of genius.” – William Gilmore Simms

One of the best habits I know of is peer review.

To be specific, I highly recommend the following exercise…

Ask 5-10 people who know you well:

  • Family/Friends
  • Boyfriend/Girlfriend
  • Husband/Wife
  • Mother/Father
  • Brother/Sister
  • Workmates/Boss

“What 10 words do you feel best describe me?”

Allow them to say anything. Positive or negative. Compliments or criticisms. It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that they give you the 10 words they feel best describe you.

Someone who knows you should look at your list of 10 words and laugh and say “Yep – that’s DEFINITELY YOU!” and you should intuitively recognize every word on the list as true (unless you have zero self-awareness).

I did this exercise and the most common words I got back were:

  • Honest
  • Sincere
  • Inquisitive
  • Intelligent
  • Intense
  • Enthusiastic
  • Loyal
  • Determined
  • Obsessive
  • Confident/courageous
  • Seeker
  • Funny
  • Unforgiving

I wasn’t surprised by much on my list because I have a strong sense of self-awareness and if you take the time to look at yourself not much should surprise you either.

I also recommend asking others:

  • What your greatest weaknesses are
  • What you could do to improve yourself
  • What mistakes they see you making
  • What advice they have for you

Others have told me my weaknesses are:

  • Impatience
  • Obsessive
  • Opinionated
  • Overly critical/judgmental
  • Unforgiving

Again, none of these things surprised me because I know myself well.

If you’re overly sensitive to criticism (like most people) you might not want to do this exercise for fear of what you might hear.

In fact, you might be thinking to yourself:

“I don’t want to hear it”

“I don’t think I can handle it”

“I’d prefer not to know”

I understand. No one likes to be criticized or told of their shortcomings.

Asking other people what they really think of you is a brave thing to do and that’s why not many people will do it. Most people are overly defensive and insecure and can’t stand the bit of slightest criticism no matter how valid it might be. They hate it. They refuse to listen to it and they resent those who give it.

In fact, instead of reflecting upon any criticism given to see if their might be any validity to it, most people are likely to get angry, defensive and fight back:

“Who are YOU to criticize me?”

“Look who’s talking!”

“I didn’t ask for your opinion!”

I love this exercise however and if you’re smart you’ll do it too because:

  • It will allow you to gain greater self-awareness, because others can see and perceive things about you that you can’t (your blind spots)
  • It will reveal a lot about how you come across to others and how they perceive you
  • It will make you face up to things that others can see about you that you don’t want to see (which is a good thing)
  • Ignorance of the facts doesn’t change them and people already feel this way about you anyway (whether you like it or not) so you might as well know
  • Other people will respect you for doing it because it demonstrates confidence and maturity. It will also allow them to get things off their chest that they’ve secretly been thinking about you for years (which will strengthen your friendships/relationships because there will be more honesty/transparency between you)

Why not see yourself as you really are? Everyone else does.

You will learn a lot from this exercise and it will become obvious as to why people tend to speak, act and treat you the way they do.

When the criticism/feedback comes no matter what it is:

“I don’t think you’re a very good listener”

“I think you could be a bit more open minded”

“I think you can be a bit selfish at times”

“You always think you’re right about everything”

“You’re very critical and judgmental of other people”


Don’t argue.

Don’t get angry.

Don’t get defensive.

Don’t interrupt.

Don’t try to make excuses.

Just LISTEN. Even if you think it’s completely unjustified and totally unfair, pay attention because this is how other people really perceive you.

After you’ve listened to the feedback take some time to reflect upon it in private and ask yourself:

“Is this true?”

“Do they have a point?”

“What could I learn from this?”

Finally, I recommend doing this in writing instead of face to face.

Just as you might be afraid to seek out constructive criticism, your friends and family might be afraid to give it for fear of hurting and offending you. However, most people will be a lot more honest with you if they can email or Facebook you instead of having to look you in the eye and sit down with you face to face.

29. Pre-mortems


“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Benjamin Franklin

I spoke about my love of the pre-mortem in The Ultimate Guide to Goal-Setting and I recommend it when setting any major goal.

Benefits of doing a pre-mortem:

  • Find hidden flaws and holes in your plans
  • Make your plans smarter and more realistic
  • Prevent problems from occurring in the first place

How to do a pre-mortem:

  1. Imagine that 12 months from now your business/product/project has failed
  2. Try to think of every single possible reason why it might have happened
  3. Choose the 10 biggest risks/threats/problems most likely to occur
  4. Start thinking of solutions to prevent each of those things from happening

Pre-mortem questions

  • What could stop your business/product/plan from succeeding? Name everything.
  • If you were to fail, what would be the 10 most likely reasons?
  • What are the biggest insecurities, risks and weaknesses in your plan?
  • What would improve your plan? What would make it better?
  • Why isn’t it perfect? What would make it perfect?
  • What is missing from your plan?
  • How would YOU defeat your plan if you had to?
  • How would YOU put yourself out of business if you had to?

In summary: Your job is to look at your plans as if you were the world’s biggest critic/hater/fault finder, and try to think of every single reason why they might not work. You can be as critical, negative, and pessimistic as you like. Tear it apart. The more faults you find the better. Then once you have identified each fault, start thinking of solutions to prevent the top 10 most likely problems from happening.

I highly recommend doing a pre-mortem before your next business, product, or project launch. It will make your plans 1000% better, smarter, and more realistic.

28. Influence others with their criteria

Business, Meeting

“If you’re trying to persuade people to do something or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.” – David Ogilvy

People often tell me that I’m very persuasive. That I’m good at influencing others and getting them to see things from my perspective.

I think that’s true, and there are a number of reasons for it:

  1. I listen and ask lots of questions
  2. I seek to understand before being understood
  3. I recognize that everyone is influenced/persuaded/motivated differently, and I always try to influence/persuade others by focusing on their buying criteria and what’s important to them, not what’s important to me

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when they’re trying to persuade others, is that they try to persuade them in the same way they’re persuaded. But that doesn’t work, because everyone has a different buying criteria and is motivated by different things.

Remember everyone has a different set of criteria for what it will take for them to:

  • Agree
  • Believe
  • Buy
  • Hire
  • Invest
  • Pay
  • Sign

…And unless you meet that criteria they’re not going to agree.

Think about this the next time you try to persuade anyone to do anything:

  • If you’re applying for a job, have you met the hiring manager’s criteria? Do you know what it is?
  • If you’re asking for a promotion or a raise, have you met your bosses criteria? Do you know what it is?
  • If you’re trying to get a customer to buy your product or service, have you met their buying criteria? Do you know what it is?
  • If you’re trying to get someone to invest in you, have you met their criteria? Do you know what it is?

I’m amazed at how many people ignore this simple principle and make the mistake of trying to convince people in the same way they’re convinced.

I’ve been in many retail stores where the salesperson starts trying to sell me on the brand name or the designer, and even after I tell them that I’m not into brand names or designers, instead of being smart and asking questions to determine what I’m looking for (my buying criteria), they just ignore me and continue to talk about the brand name and the designer as if I gave a shit (when I already told them I didn’t).

Don’t be like those dumb salespeople and try to sell people on benefits and features they don’t care about.

The only way you’re ever going to influence/persuade/motivate anyone to do anything, is by addressing their buying criteria, and the only way you’re going to find out what their buying criteria is, is by first asking lots of questions.

PS: Don’t take any of the answers you get at face value either, because people aren’t always conscious of their buying criteria and don’t always know what they want.

You’ll often need to read between the lines and ask lots of follow up questions to find out the real reason for each answer and what’s behind it.

  • What goal are they trying to achieve?
  • What need are they trying to fulfill?
  • What problem are they trying to solve?
  • Is there an even better/quicker/smarter way to achieve the result they want?

27. Listen with your eyes  

Listening, Man

“Talk is cheap; learn to listen with your eyes. Actions speak louder than words. Watch what a person does more than what he says.” – Robert Kiyosaki

If you want to know what someone really thinks, don’t just listen to what they say, watch what they actually do.

How often does the average person lie and talk crap about everything?

People lie. They deceive. They mislead. They’re flaky, unreliable, and untrustworthy. They don’t keep their promises or do what they said they would. You cannot take anyone at their word because their word means nothing. Most people won’t hesitate to lie the second it suits them.

However, although people may lie with their words, they never lie with their actions.

Don’t trust anyone to tell you the truth, or to do what they say they were ‘gonna’ do. Instead, trust people to be themselves, to act in their own best interests, and above all, to do what they’ve always done.

26. Take Responsibility

Man, Work, Business

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston S. Churchill

One of the first things I noticed whilst travelling the world from 2013-2016 was that it’s an EXTREMELY RARE individual that will take responsibility for their actions.

Seriously: We’re living in a world of children where everyone loves to point the finger and blame others, but no one wants to take responsibility for anything themselves. No matter what anyone says or does it’s always someone else’s fault. The rule is: If something goes right I take the credit, but if it goes wrong someone else is to blame.

I’d guesstimate that only 1% of the world’s population is adult enough to take responsibility for their actions, whereas 99% of people regardless of age, sex, culture or country, want to blame everyone else for their words, actions, decisions, habits, broken promises, lies, debt, financial struggles and lifestyle.

These days people won’t even take responsibility for killing, raping or torturing another human being. I’m not responsible. I had an abusive childhood. I was temporarily insane. I was just following orders. I didn’t know what I was doing.

If you want others to take responsibility for their actions, I suggest being part of the 1% and start taking responsibility for your actions. Lead by example. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

The day you stop blaming other people, stop making excuses, and start taking 100% responsibility for your life, is the day you take your power back, start moving forward, and start making real progress.

25. Always be early & over-prepared

Man, Business, Suit, Coffee

“Every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought” – Sun Tsu, The Art of War

Every championship, competition, exam, interview, match, performance, review, speech, test etc. is won or lost well before the big day arrives.

Who aces the test? The over prepared student.

Who gets the job? The overqualified candidate.

Who wins the competition? The over prepared athlete.

You cannot be too prepared for anything that is important to you: an interview, a meeting, a speech, a test, or anything else. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be when the big day arrives and the pressure is on.

As a rule of thumb: You want to make sure that your preparation and training is 10X harder than anything you’ll ever have to face in real life when it counts.

If you need to run 5 miles in a race, run 50 miles in preparation.

If you need to pass a test, do 10 online tests in preparation.

If you need to give a speech, practice it 10X in preparation.

In summary:

If you’re not early, you’re late.

If you’re not overprepared, you’re under prepared.

If you want A+ results, your planning and preparation needs to be A+.

24. Lead by example

Barack Obama

“Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.” – Margaret Thatcher

Successful people are leaders not followers.

I remember hearing people like Tony Robbins speak about the importance of being a leader in my early twenties, but I didn’t really understand what he was getting at or why it was so important. But now I do.

In life you are either following your path or someone else’s. Being a leader and going your own way is the only hope you have of reaching your potential and doing something great in life.

What does it mean to be a leader?

Being a leader is about:

  • Taking 100% responsibility for your life
  • Thinking for yourself and listening to your intuition instead of other people
  • Following your own unique path in life instead of following the crowd

You cannot achieve your goals or reach your potential if you are a follower. There are no advantages or benefits to being a follower. No one admires or respects a follower.

Followers don’t have any power, leaders do.

Followers don’t get any respect, leaders do.

Followers don’t get rich, leaders do.

Followers don’t make the rules, leaders do.

Followers don’t change the world, leaders do.

Lead by example and don’t follow the crowd. Let the crowd follow you.

23. Automate and delegate everything you can

Self Driving Car

Why do it when you can get someone else to do it?

By automating, delegating and outsourcing insignificant tasks you can free up your time to work on much more important things…

Here are some tasks that can be automated/delegated/outsourced:

  • Automatic email responses, notifications, updates
  • Automatic payments and transfers for bills, debts, savings and investments
  • Automated non-negotiable purchases such as toilet paper, toothpaste etc. through Amazon subscribe and save
  • Cleaning, chores, housework
  • Customer support
  • Direct debits for reoccurring bills such as the rent
  • Email marketing/signatures/templates
  • Filling out online forms
  • Grocery shopping
  • Home delivery for food, drinks
  • Marketing
  • Production
  • Website design
  • Writing/Editing

What could you automate, delegate or outsource?

For example: If cleaning your house takes a couple of hours per week, why not hire a cleaner? Don’t you have better things to do? I know I do.

22. Test your limits

Weight Lifting

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go” – T.S. Eliot

What do you really know about your potential?

Have you ever really tried to find out?

Most people have no idea at all what they’re capable of or what’s possible for their lives because they’ve never really tried. They’ve just assumed imaginary limitations for themselves that aren’t even there, and then acted as if they were true.

If you’re smart however, you won’t make assumptions about what you can and can’t do without first giving it your best, and you’ll constantly be testing out your limits to see what you’re capable of, and to see just how far you can go.

Why not test out your limits? Why not find out what you’re capable of?

Why not see what you can do? What do you have to lose?

The truth is that you’ll never know what you’re really capable of until you test out your limits. But if you’re always holding back, doing less than you’re capable of, and assuming your limitations without testing them, you’ll never know.

By testing out your limits you might surprise yourself, and you’ll learn a lot about why your limits are your limits.

Let me give you a quick example from my own life:

In 2013 I entered a 30-day yoga challenge.

I’d never done yoga before and to be honest I wasn’t even sure if I could complete the entire 30 days. But I decided to give it a go anyway to test out my limits.

It was very difficult at first. On the 3rd and 4th days I felt like quitting because my body was aching and tired. However, I decided to persist through the initial discomfort, and I just focused on getting through one day at a time.

Funnily enough after a week or so, it had actually become easier for me to go than to not go. I kept on going day after day for the rest of the month until finally I’d completed the 30-day challenge.

I was proud of myself, but when it was finished I thought to myself: “Why should I stop going just because the 30 days are up? I really enjoy it, it’s good for me, and I’m getting a lot from it!”

So I decided to keep going:

Soon I’d done 40 days in a row.

Then 50.

Then 100.

Then 150.

Then 200.

Then 250.

Then 300.

It wasn’t until I hit day 325 that I finally decided to call it quits.

I didn’t even stop because I was physically tired, I was just mentally tired.

I wasn’t happy when I finally broke the streak and stopped going either! I’d built up such an incredibly strong momentum that it was very difficult for me not to go. I actually felt incredibly guilty about ‘quitting’.

The thing I learnt most about doing 325 days of consecutive yoga was not to set illusory limits for myself based on what others are doing/have done.

Now I don’t assume where my limits are and I don’t let anyone tell me what I am and aren’t capable of, without testing out those limits myself.

21. Make your bucket list your ‘to do’ list 

Petra, Jordan

I spoke about the importance of making your bucket list your ‘to do’ list in a recent article: The Ultimate Guide to Goal-Setting

Everyone should have a bucket list, a list of everything they wish to do/see/experience before they die.

Once you have a bucket list, you should make it your ‘to do’ list, because if you’re not doing the things that are most important to you you probably don’t have your priorities straight.

You only live once so what are you waiting for?!


Let’s do a quick recap of this week’s habits:

30. Peer review

29. Pre-mortem

28. Influence others with their criteria

27. Listen with your eyes

26. Take responsibility

25. Be early & over-prepared

24. Lead by example

23. Automate and delegate everything you can

22. Test your limits

21. Make your Bucket list ‘to do’ list

This is Part 3 of a 5 part series: The Top 50 Habits of all time

Part 1 of this series: Top 50 Habits – Part 1

Part 2 of this series: Top 50 Habits – Part 2

Part 4 of this series: Top 50 Habits – Part 4

Part 5 of this series: Top 50 Habits – Part 5

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If you would like to read some of my other articles: Life Lessons All Articles

Barack Obama image credit: Everett Collection /
Olympic weightlifter image credit: Ververidis Vasilis /


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