I am quite certain that successful people have a lot of discipline – whatever they choose to practice. As a young man in boarding school, and later as a monk, I learned the value of discipline. I doubt I would have ever achieved academic success without the discipline of planning my day and attending to the most important stuff early in the morning.
I like Robin Sharma’s writing. He has a blog post about the daily routines of the rock stars of achievement. Here’s an excerpt that lists the unique practices of highly successful people:
–Ernest Hemingway: Up at 5:30 every morning to write even if he’d been drinking the night before. He wrote as a practice, not just when he felt inspired.
–Benjamin Franklin: Sat naked every morning in fresh air for his “bath” which he swore fuelled his energy and creativity. He also listed 13 character traits he wanted to build and measured how he lived against each of them every night before he slept (in a journal).
–Padmasree Warrior (Chief Technology Officer at Cisco Systems): Regular “digital detoxes” where she unplugs from technology to reboot her brain and replenish her creative reserves.
–Leonardo da Vinci: Slept via small naps throughout the day versus sleeping 8 hours straight. The famed inventor Thomas Edison reportedly did the same thing (as does Hip-Hop mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs).
–Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Daily walks which shifted his mindset from the mundane to the original. The Great Nelson Mandela used to walk entire days for the exercise and mind-clearing effects the discipline would deliver. So many extreme achievers take a walk every day; ideally take your walk in nature. And bring a means to capture the outpouring of fresh insights that will flow.
–Steve Jobs: Would fast for extended periods of time, recognizing that it created a sense of euphoria within him that motivated his dazzling output of ideas. He also loved carrots, eating so many during one period that his skin turned to a soft orange color.
–Maya Angelou: Writes in a cheap and spartan hotel room she rents. She awakens at home around 5:30 each morning, has coffee with her husband and then shows up at the hotel room to do seriously productive work by 7 am. “It’s lonely and it’s marvellous,” she says. Personally, I’ve done the most important work of my career in hotel rooms from Buenos Aires to Auckland. And on airplanes (the longer the flight the more I get done).
–Ludwig Van Beethoven: Loved his coffee and measured out his beans with meticulous love and care: 60 beans per cup. Many elite performers use this drink as a productivity tool. But please do so in moderation: Balzac drank 50 cups a day. Sadly, he died from a heart attack at 51.
–Mick Jagger: Exercises 6 days a week and includes ballet, pilates and yoga in his regimen. Sir Mick clearly gets that fitness rewires the brain to fight fear, reduces the stress response and multiplies stamina.
–Stephen King: Writes every single day of the year and does not get up from the pursuit of his craft until his daily quota of two thousand words has been met.
Please also remember that: The quality of your habits defines the caliber of your performance.