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How to Be a “Superachiever”

Lauren Lyster
Daily Ticker

In the search of a formula for success, hard work and discipline are the obvious choices. But could the recipe include weekly sessions on a therapists couch to reach a higher level of self-awareness? Maybe. Or might achievement entail dressing like you’re going to a Lady Gaga concert all the time? Sure, if you listen to cultural critic Simon Doonan.

Those are a few (explicit or extrapolated) takeways from a new how-to guide for attempting lofty goals.

Authors Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield interviewed dozens of “superachievers” and profiled their models of success in a new book,The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well .

“We asked ‘who’s the Picasso? Who is the Warhol?’ in this particular field,” Gosfield tells The Daily Ticker of the authors’ search for “superachievers,” or people who not only excelled in, but transformed their industries.

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Talking to actors like Laura Linney and Alec Baldwin, tennis player Martina Navratilova, and dog whisperer Cesar Millan, the authors zeroed in on ten common qualities that helped all of these people rise above the crowd, including: dedication, intelligent persistence, community, listening, telling a story, testing, managing emotions, evolving, patience, and happiness.

“We found self-awareness was probably the most important thing that everyone shared,” Sweeney tells The Daily Ticker. “We saw that they were questioning themselves, and when ‘superachievers’ hit an obstacle or a road block, they were able to pivot and get through.”

“Instead of blaming someone else or making some minor tweaks,” Gosfield adds. “They really took a very careful look at their assumptions and biases, and that allowed them to reinvent themselves."

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Another secret of success outside the traditional paradigm or hard work and dedication was community. Gosfield asserts nobody is going to achieve really high goals without developing a community around them, whether it’s fans, mentors, or friends in social media.

The authors cite an Australian teen Jessica Watson, who decided to solo circumnavigate the globe. Watson started to build a community from 11-years-old of mentors, experts, and veteran solo circumnavigators who helped her sail around the world at 16.

The authors concede not everybody on the face of the planet is going to end up being a “superachiever,” but they argue anybody can improve their work habits using some of the strategies detailed in what they call the “crash course in success” laid out in their book.

And while Sweeney found financial reward wasn’t always a goal of “superachievers,” she says it was interesting to see how much fame and remuneration came to those who excel.

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