For many high-net-worth individuals, generating wealth is a way of life that they choose to embrace every single day. But if you look even more closely, you may notice that they've adopted some very surprising habits and qualities that set them apart from average people.
Quite simply, if you want to be exceptionally wealthy and successful, you have to think and act differently than the rest. These habits may be simple, but the effects are lasting, and they will allow you to get ahead of the pack.
So follow what others have done differently to make change in your own life. Here are some of the unexpected qualities of the rich that you could start practicing to help accelerate your success:
1. Be "lazy"
Bill Gates once said that he would "choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it."
Even Nobel Prize winner Richard Thaler was described by a colleague as "lazy" and he says this quality gave him the ability to separate things that truly matter from the ones that do not contribute to his overall progress.
The word "lazy" may seem negative, but some of those who are considered lazy are actually the ones who constantly innovate to arrive at solutions more efficiently. At LexION Capital, my team is always looking for the best, quickest way to get from point A to point B.
Aim to work smarter, not harder.
2. Go slow
Whether you're looking for financial or personal success, it's a myth that you can get there overnight. In fact, leaders tend to pursue the opposite approach. For instance, when it comes to investing, they usually reap the rewards of compounding and a long-term approach, rather than attempting to pick the next hot stock.
As Warren Buffett once put it, "Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree long ago."
Similarly, when it comes to personal and career success, the ultra-successful focus on very long-term goals rather than quick fixes. They do this by breaking their ideas down into actionable baby-steps, so there's something they can do each day to turn their dreams into realities.
3. Seek out harsh criticism
Negativity can hurt, but mega-successful people are surprisingly hungry for criticism and honest feedback because they use it to learn how they can advance their performance.
Pretty much anyone can take criticism at a surface level, but being able to really engage with and grow from it is a rare trait. After all, feedback is incredibly personal, and it can cause severe damage to your ego. But if you start embracing feedback from other people, no matter how much it might sting, you'll see how it will help you become better at what you do.
4. Turn down nearly every opportunity
We tend to think of mega-successful individuals as go-getters who have a huge appetite for new opportunities. On the contrary, though, titans like Richard Branson recognize that time is their most valuable and finite asset, so they ferociously protect it by being choosy. As that billionaire once put it, "Business opportunities are like buses — there's always another one coming!"
Being greedy with your time isn't a bad thing if it means being able to sift through priorities and identify which ones are truly important. There are countless distractions taking too much of your time. Learn to cut them out of your system and concentrate on your top priorities to maximize your time and energy.
5. Be very frugal
"You have to spend money to make money," right? It's easy to equate wealthy people with flashy sports cars and mansions. However, if you take a look at self-made millionaire and billionaires, you'll notice they usually aren't big spenders. Mark Zuckerberg, for instance, is worth $70 billion and drives a Volkswagen Jetta.
Really successful individuals know that true luxury is being able to pursue their dreams, instead of being shackled by their bills. They make a daily effort to grow their wealth and use it on future endeavors, instead of blowing it on the latest "must have."
6. Fail. A lot.
"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all — in which case, you fail by default." –JK Rowling
Failure is something most of us try to avoid as much as possible. The true innovators and trailblazers, however, don't only accept that it's part of the process; they aim to fail regularly by setting "impossible" goals.
You need to accept that failure is necessary for progress. If you dream big and challenge the status quo (I hope you do!), you're going to have to take some chances. Failure is possible, but know that if you fall you can get right back up.
7. Don't try to be better than everybody else
It's a common misconception that ultra-successful people aim to be better at the things that others are already doing. Rather than take on everyone else, they usually swim in a different lane by coming up with innovative paths to success.
"When you innovate, you've got to be prepared for everyone telling you you're nuts," says Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO.
When I started my firm, most people called me crazy. Some people even laughed in my face. That's when I knew I was onto something. You'll find the same holds true for most billionaire disruptors.
Don't be afraid to embrace fear and ignore the naysayers on your path to the top.
Elle Kaplan is the founder and CEO of LexION Capital, a fiduciary wealth management firm in New York City serving high-net-worth individuals. She is also the Chief Investment Officer at LexION Alpha, her systematic hedge fund. It is one of the only women-owned and run hedge funds in the nation.
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