5 Extreme Habits of Great Leaders

Posted in: Business, Innovation

“Normal” is hardly a word that most people would choose to describe the greatest leaders and innovators of our generation. Eccentric? Usually. Inspiring? Always. But normal? Not a chance.

The truth is, lots of entrepreneurs have achieved their success in totally unconventional ways. But this doesn’t mean that you too have to come up with similar bizarre behaviors and productivity quirks in order to produce your best work. No, not at all. Instead, diving in to the motivation behind these weird habits allows us to see that success really can be achieved in many ways, and sometimes includes 'out-of-the-box' thinking that fuels both productivity and creativity.

Sure, many of these habits are strange. Yet, they worked out pretty well for these remarkable leaders. Just how well? Read on to find out.

1. Steve Jobs’ eating habits allowed him to shower once a week.

Putting together a list of successful business leaders wouldn't be complete without including the mastermind behind Apple, Steve Jobs. This tech maven behind today’s modern computing experienced failure in his early days, just as many entrepreneurs do. However, his eventual breakthrough success in the technology world is unlike any that the world has ever seen. In fact, Jobs is listed as either primary inventor or co-inventor in 346 United States patents related to technology, from the original iMac to the Mac OS X dock user interface - a patent issued the day before he died.

How did he manage to do it all? Jobs specifically made it a point to reach beyond the norm in his diet to help him succeed. By restricting his diet to only one or two foods--like carrots and apples--Jobs believed he would create less mucus and less body odor. There was even talk that his skin took on an orange tint due to the amount of rabbit treats he ate each day. But what many people didn’t realize was that Jobs’ limited diet allowed him to shower at the pace of only once per week. He also didn’t have to bother spending time deciding what to wear each day; this is the man who wore a uniform of a black turtleneck and jeans for decades. While Jobs' behaviors were extreme, he got one thing right: simplify your life, and you'll have more time to dedicate to learning, creating and growing.

2. Marissa Mayer slept under her desk so she could work more.

Everyone has heard about the 10,000 hour rule, right? Before you can become an expert in a particular area, you must first dedicate 10,000 hours of practice and refining the skill. The highly recognized President and CEO of Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer, took that rule to heart. Even before her climb up the corporate ladder at Yahoo!, her days at Google were filled with productivity. Literally.

Mayer was known to work about 130 hours a week at Google, sleep under her desk and take strategic showers. We'd wager to say it didn't take this young, motivated CEO nearly as long to accrue her 10,000 hours.

3. Stephen King was obsessive about his strict routine.

Stephen King, the well-known writer behind many contemporary horror and science fiction novels, has published 55 books and frequents the New York Times Bestseller List. However, that’s no where near enough for King (or his fans). With his books selling more than 350 million copies worldwide, King has to stay on the ball to constantly dream up and write more books that will satisfy his loyal reader’s cravings. He does that by being borderline obsessive about his daily routine.

He has very rigid ideas about the space he should write in, the time of day in which he should write, and how much work he completes before he is done. King's routine consists of listening to music, sitting in the same chair, and having his papers organized the same each day. Each and every day. Plus, King--with a self-proclaimed dislike for adverbs--also sets out to write 2,000 adverb-free words per day.

4. Mark Zuckerberg stuck to a casual wardrobe so he could focus on Facebook.

Similar to fellow tech genius Steve Jobs, Facebook founder and computer programmer Mark Zuckerberg is all about simplicity in his wardrobe. Zuckerberg, who's worth $33 billion, has been chastised for having little spontaneity in his clothing choices. But Zuckerberg claims that wearing the same grey t-shirt every day enables him to invest more time and energy into improving Facebook.

He says, "I feel like I'm not doing my job if I spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life so, that way, I can dedicate all of my energy towards building the best products and services." Hmmm… he may have a point. Excuse us, while we search our closets for our own grey t-shirts.

5. Walt Disney went bankrupt for the dream

Bankruptcy is the exact opposite of what many people think of when they imagine the lives of successful business leaders. Contrary to popular belief, many rich and famous entrepreneurs once had to lose it all in order to become great. Walt Disney was a legendary animator, television producer and cultural icon, not to mention the founder of the happiest places on earth - Disneyland and Disneyworld. (The latter of which receives 18,588,000 annual visitors, making it the most visited theme park on earth.) However, this business magnate was also once extremely broke.

In fact, Disney went bankrupt numerous times when working to build his dream of having his own studio. Laugh-O-Gram, one of Disney’s first film studios, became a reality but the venture crushed Disney with debt. Needless to say, leveraging his future paid off in the long run and being broke enabled Disney to eventually make it big. The Disney name now carries with it a major animation and motion pictures studios, theme parks, vacation destinations, media corporations, record labels, television networks and more. Altogether, the company had annual revenues of over $45 billion in 2013 - a pretty good legacy for a man who once had nothing.

As you can see, many habits of the most successful people are, indeed, unconventional. These five men and women prove that sometimes you do have to forge your own path--no matter how extreme--to find success and fulfill your dreams.

Did any of these oddball habits surprise you, or do you follow a few of them yourself? Let us know in the comments!

Hey Yo Comment!