The Definitive Guide to Business

Self-made billionaires like Warren Buffett and Elon Musk prove if you don't make time for these 6 little things every day, you'll never be successful

Bill Gates
Adam Galica | CNBC

Success isn't easy — and it certainly doesn't happen overnight, but there are little things you can do every day to ensuring that you achieve your professional goals. The world's most legendary leaders, from Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey to CEOs at Google and Facebook, all view success as a work in progress.

They key is to stay patient and committed. Here are six things you need to do on a daily basis if you want to be successful in life:

1. Read a book that isn't directly related to your career

Reading is one of the easiest ways to experience life from another perspective and develop the empathy required to be an effective leader. But it's important to expand your knowledge beyond your expertise.

There's a reason why Elon Musk includes works of science fiction and biographies as some of the essentials on his reading list. "I was raised by books. Books, and then my parents," Musk said in an interview with Rolling Stone.

Slack’s CEO recommended this book to his entire leadership team
Slack’s CEO recommended this book to his entire leadership team

2. Get sweaty

No, we're not talking about going to the sauna or doing hot yoga.

Developing the courage to do something outside of your comfort zone is a sign that you're leveling up. Otherwise, you won't get very far in life. If you hate public speaking, be the first to speak at your next team meeting. Although you might get so nervous that you end up with sweat stains beneath your armpit sleeves, just do it anyway. It'll get easier.

Mark Zuckerberg spent years learning Mandarin. And guess what? He did a pretty good job mastering it. Fear and growth cannot exist in the same space. One has to leave in order for the other to flourish.

Watch 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg explain Facebook—and how it held up over the years
Watch 19-year-old Mark Zuckerberg explain Facebook

3. Exercise

In his five-year study of rich people, author Tom Corley found that exercising was something they all had in common. "Those who have forged the habit of exercising aerobically have tremendous competitive advantages over those who don't," he wrote in his blog. Those advantages include higher IQ (intelligence quotient), willpower, confidence and up to 20 percent more energy.

A number of self-made billionaires, including Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sanberg and Richard Branson, incorporate exercise into their daily routines. Research even found that small amounts of daily exercise can significantly help to extend your life.

What it's like to walk 5 miles to work like CEO Jack Dorsey
What it's like to walk 5 miles to work like CEO Jack Dorsey

4. Give back

The myth that the lone hero succeeded because they managed to pull themselves up by the bootstraps is just that — a myth. Truly successful people understand the importance of giving back, especially to those in need.

In 2010, Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett started the Giving Pledge, a commitment by wealthy individuals and families to give away more than half their fortune to causes like poverty alleviation and global health.

But it doesn't have to be massive amounts of money. It can be as simple as offering to help an overworked colleague or an elderly person with their grocery bags. If you're too busy to give back or return a favor, then you're too busy to succeed.

Elon Musk, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs all have these traits in common
Elon Musk, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs all have these traits in common

5. Take a moment to remember your competition

Michael Jordan once said, "I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win." The professional basketball player went from getting cut from his high school basketball team all the way to six championships and creating one of the most valuable athletic brands in history.

I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.
Michael Jordan

Failing to forgive and holding grudges can weigh you down, but acknowledging your competition and doubters (a.k.a. the haters) can be a powerful form of motivation. It pushes you to do everything in your power to succeed and prove them wrong.

6. Get outside and think

Everyone knows we all spend way too much time on our phones (what's new, millennials?), but what we don't talk about is what so many of us fail to do: Drop the devices, get outside, walk and just think.

A study from the American Psychology Association found that outdoor walks can increase creativity and improve problem-solving skills. "When there is a premium on generating new ideas in the workday, it should be beneficial to incorporate walks," the researchers wrote.

Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson and CEOs at Google and LinkedIn also love holding their meetings on foot because it helps with brainstorming new concepts. "I find it to be a much quicker way of getting down to business, making a decision and sealing the deal," Branson wrote in his blog. "Plus, it's a great way to fit in a bit of exercise and stay focused on a busy day."

Dustin McKissen is the founder of McKissen + Company, a strategic communications firm in St. Charles, Missouri. He was also named one of LinkedIn's "Top Voices in Management and Corporate Culture." Follow him on Twitter @DMcKissen.

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