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3 daily habits of the world's most successful people

Tim Ferriss
Source: Andrew (Drew) Kelly

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the bodybuilder turned actor turned Governor of California, and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell don't seem to have a lot in common.

They are both, however, indisputably successful. And they've both been on author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss' podcast, "The Tim Ferriss Show."

Ferriss, who wrote popular productivity book "The 4-Hour Workweek," uses his podcast to talk to a range of successful people about how they've climbed to the top of their fields.

He's noticed three daily habits that the most accomplished people have in common.

They practice mindfulness.

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The ability to focus is a prerequisite for being successful in any category, and Ferriss has learned that most successful people take active steps to quiet their minds.

"At least 80 percent of the people I have interviewed have some type of daily mindfulness practice," he says. "That can take the form of meditation. That can take the form of some type of repetitive exercise. It can take the form of using a simple app, like Headspace. But that is one very consistent pattern."

Doing yoga can also be considered a form of mindfulness, depending on how it is practiced, says Ferriss. If you are spending an entire class obsessing about your to-do list for tomorrow or what your ex said on Facebook, then that isn't much of a mindfulness practice. If, however, you are focusing on your breath and body, then yoga can be a way to access mindfulness.

They ask big, absurd questions.

The people who do awesome, impressive things are the people who think awesome, impressive thoughts. If you don't entertain ideas that are a little crazy, then you won't disrupt the status quo.

"These people who get outsized results in different areas often ask outsized questions that seem very absurd," says Ferriss. "These people have developed the ability to ask bigger questions."

It was just that sort of extreme, out-of-the box thinking that led Ferriss to write his most famous book. "In 'The 4-Hour Workweek' I asked, 'If you had a gun against your head and could only work two hours a day, what would you work on?'" says Ferriss. "And that type of thought exercise forces you to break your current thought patterns and habits."

They spend time with people who challenge them.

Laird Hamilton in Malibu, California
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin | GC Images | Getty Images

The third commonality of the ultra-successful people that Ferriss has interviewed is that they all surround themselves with other ultra-successful people — people who challenge them to be the best version of themselves.

"They all spend time with people who kill their excuses," says Ferriss.

For example, Laird Hamilton, who Ferriss calls "the undisputed king of big wave surfing," is in his early 50s. And Hamilton is friends with Don Wildman, who, now in his 80s, was dubbed "The World's Healthiest 75-Year-Old Man" back in 2008.

"Hang out with someone 30 years older who is just crushing life," says Ferriss. "Spend time with people who remove your excuses instead of reinforce them."