A Hidden Habit of Successful People

man_looking_at_a_lake

They sit around on their asses and do nothing…

When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me to spend time thinking instead of watching TV all day. I had a puzzled look on my face.

Isolate yourself from the TV and think.

I looked at him blankly, didn’t know what’s this act of thinking is all about?

That doesn’t sound like a fun thing to do? Who on earth does that?

At that time, I secretly wished I had a fun dad (still do) and not a boring old man trying really hard to get me off from watching TV.

It wasn’t until decade later that I finally understand what he was talking about.


Charlie Munger, a top investor of all time, is big on thinking. In fact, he spends 80% of his career reading and thinking.

To put it in his own words.

We (Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett) both insist on a lot of time being available almost every day to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. We read and think. So Warren and I do more reading and thinking and less doing than most people in business.

Other successful people like Jeff Weiner, Tim Armstrong, Bill Gates also share the same habit. They block out time each day to do some serious thinking.

This habit can also be seen with top profession like surgeons. Surgeons would spend time the night before the operation to mentally perform the surgery.

So what’s the big deal with spending time daily to do nothing but think?

Oftentimes, we all try to find things to do, something to occupy our mind. For example, you binge watch Netflix because it can help you pass time on a Sunday afternoon. Spending time thinking on the other hand is not as sexy as watching Game of Thrones, but it’s an important one.

Thinking can improve your life.

For a founder, it could be putting in a few hours a day to reflecting and planning on what will move the company forward. For a student, it could be thinking about the future and the steps she needs to take after graduation.Regardless of where you’re in life, spending time to think can greatly improve your life.


How to create an environment for deep thinking

Thinking is hard because it takes up a whole lot of cognitive load. For this reason you want to create a surrounding that allows you to focus on high level of thinking.

Here’re some tips to create an environment for deep thinking.

  • Block out a time specifically to think.

Start off with 15 minutes before you kick off your day. A mental reassessment of where you’re today, and where you want to be by the end the day is a great way to start the practice of thinking.

  • Isolate yourself from distractions.

Our human brain is not designed to multitask, nor should you try when you’re in the process of thinking. Treat thinking with your undivided attention by turning do not disturb mode on the phone.

I’m a huge fan of whiteboard. When you start off with one big idea, your mind will cascade into series of other ideas. Having a whiteboard allows you to jog down ideas that you don’t want to miss or come back to later in the thinking stage.


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