Ice Baths (and other weird s**t)
Eccentric habits don't guarantee success!
It’s easy for us to look at high achievers and ask, “What did they do differently than others in order to be so damned successful?”
It seems like a good question, right? In fact, it seems rather obvious. If someone is truly out of the ordinary when it comes to their level of success, it’s pretty clear that whatever they’re doing must also be out of the ordinary. I mean, if they did typical things, they’d get typical result – just like the rest of us.
Unfortunately, it’s not a good question. It’s actually a really bad question and will lead well-meaning people to do all sorts of weird shit in the hopes of becoming the next Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk!
“What are some examples of weird habits?”
If you’re looking for examples of weird habits, just Google it. You’ll find ice baths, only eating one food for a week, doodling during meetings, and a mountain of “do this every day” advice that makes me roll my eyes and shake my head. But let me give you something to think about when you stumble on those turds of wisdom: If the solution really was to just do that one thing every day, we’d all be wildly successful!
The founder of CD Baby, said something similar:
“If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” ~Derek Sivers
He was speaking about the propensity for people to think, “If I just take this course or finish reading this book or attend this workshop, THEN I’ll succeed!” We put off doing the work by convincing ourselves we need more information – when what we really need is to just start doing the damn work.
The parallel I see between “more information” and trying a “weird habit” is that they’re both ways of doing something other than the actual hard work.
Just like reading another “how to” blog post or watching another workout video on YouTube isn’t going to make you rich or get you in shape, drinking lemon water every day or getting up before the ass-crack of dawn doesn’t guarantee your success in life. (Check out TPL Podcast #11, Early Birds Suck!, to hear what I think about the early riser fad.)
Now, there is one caveat: If you read the right blog post and actually TAKE ACTION on what you’ve read, then it might just be the catalyst you need to get rolling.
The key is to make sure you’re doing work that moves you toward your vision. If you need help with that, check out my article explaining my goal-setting framework and then implement what you learn immediately.
“Aren’t you a proponent of developing habits?”
Yes, I fully support the development of good habits designed to support your vision, goals, and strategies. What I don’t support is the idea that a couple weird habits are the keys to your ultimate success. Taking an ice bath every morning or wearing nothing but black turtlenecks and jeans isn’t the recipe for wealth and fame.
Similarly, I’m very leery of the “do this one thing daily to achieve spectacular results” advice. Things are rarely that simple. In fact, most of those pieces of advice have lots of stuff in the “fine print,” if you’d bother to read it.
“Do this one exercise every day and you’ll get six-pack abs!” Nice! Sign me up!
But when you read the rest of it, what they really mean is, “Do this one exercise every day (combined with a healthy diet and active lifestyle) and you’ll get six-pack abs!” Wait... what?
I’m also extremely cautious with self-proclaimed gurus who offer nothing but a string of “do this every day” pieces of advice. There’s one exercise expert on YouTube who has offered so many “do this one exercise every day” videos that if you add them all up, you’d spend most of your waking hours in the gym!
Tell me how that’s helpful? It’s not. It’s just content designed to keep the info seekers coming back with every new video. “Oh – there’s a new video on getting wider lats with one cool move! I’ve gotta check that out!”
Here’s a better idea: Stop watching videos about exercising and go spend 15 minutes actually exercising. You’ll be so much better off all around!
“Shouldn’t we start with small habits though?”
When you’re trying to change your behaviors and develop habits that will become the building blocks of routines and rituals, then you should definitely start small. As I described in Habit How-To, you can start with a small habit, which can become a gateway habit to larger things.
But all habits aren’t created equal! If you decide to start rocking in your chair whenever you’re trying to focus or are getting excited, it’s not going to turn you into the next Bill Gates. Eating nothing but carrots for long periods of time isn’t going to help you found the next Apple. Rocking in your chair for a little bit or eating nothing but carrots for a single meal aren’t small habits that will grow into something bigger and better.
They’re just weird.
Don’t copy someone else’s weird, quirky shit. That’s actually even weirder! Most people tend to think their own habits are normal even though you realize they’re weird, which means you know better... and you’re still going to do it? (What does that say about you and your judgement?)
That being said, if you end up developing your own quirky eccentricities to help you think, focus, or be creative, then more power to you. Because guess what? That’s exactly what all those other folks did. They found something that worked and stuck with it – not because someone else was doing it but because it worked for them.
The Bottom Line:
It’s okay to look to others who have succeeded in your field or area of expertise. There are excellent role models and fine examples for you to emulate to some degree. But just because an individual is unusually exceptional doesn’t mean their unusual habits are what made them extremely successful.
Sometimes weird really is just weird.