29+ Surprising Habits of Successful People
| LAST UPDATE 05/26/2022
Some of the most successful people in the world have some of the most unusual habits. While there may not be a direct link between their practices and their fortune, perhaps some of these may be worth a try…
David Beckham: Doing Everything in Pairs
David Beckham is often regarded as one of the most talented soccer players ever. While we imagined he would have his soccer shoes lined up neatly in pairs, we had no idea this applied to everything in his house.
"I have got this disorder where I have to have everything in a straight line, or everything has to be in pairs. I'll put my Pepsi cans in the fridge, and if there's one too many, I'll put it in another cupboard somewhere," he told the British TV Channel, ITV1.
Britney Spears: Biting Nails
For anyone being hard on themselves for biting on their nails, it helps to know that Britney Spears does it too. Yes, the mega-talented Queen of Pop has been biting her nails for as long as she can remember - and it's helped her get through the most challenging and stressful times in her career.
In 2009, she publicly declared she would give up the habit by tweeting, "I have to learn to stop biting my nails! I would like to stop worrying so much, because I worry all the time." Despite this, she has since been photographed with nails bitten down, showing she hasn't been able to change her ways just yet.
Catherine Zeta-Jones: Brushing Teeth With Strawberries
Looking for a natural teeth stain remover? Head to the local grocery store, walk right past the oral hygiene aisle, and stock up on strawberries. Well, that's what Catherine Zeta-Jones does! Catherine's habit, while certainly unusual, does sound like it's based on real science.
"I love to eat an apple after a meal, just to cleanse my teeth - they always look polished afterwards. If there aren't any apples in the fruit bowl, a strawberry will suffice. The juice or pulp of strawberries contains malic acid, which serves as an astringent and can lighten surface stains," she told Now Magazine.
Bill Gates: Chair Rocking
Want to be as successful as Bill Gates? Just rock back and forth on the chair. It's that simple! Seriously, the Microsoft founder and billionaire genius is known to rock on his chair throughout the day. Of all the many interesting habits out there, this one we could probably get on board with.
The purpose is twofold. He believes it helps him to focus when issues arise and helps him to zone out when necessary. Rumor has it that this habit of his goes back as far as his time in college, where he would program for hours while rocking on his chair. We're off to sit in a chair until our own genius ideas come to us…
Cameron Diaz: Opening Doors With Elbows
Cameron Diaz is not one of those celebrities who will ignore people as she goes on with her day. She'll even hold the door open for someone walking into a building behind her. The only catch? She'll be opening it with her elbows. Yes, the Charlie's Angels actress has a unique way of approaching doors.
For anyone wondering why this may be, this is one of those habits that originates from OCD reasoning. Due to her obsession with cleanliness and hygiene, she developed somewhat of a fear of touching germ-infested doorknobs. Not expecting doors to be opened for her everywhere she went, she got creative.
Jennifer Aniston: Walking Right Foot First
Some habits are based on a belief in a scientific theory which suggests it results in success. Others are just habits that have developed by accident. And then there are those based on superstition. Jennifer Aniston has a habit in the last of those groups. So what does she do?
Being the superstar she is, it makes sense that hers is travel-related. "If I walk onto an airplane, I always have to go on with my right foot first and tap the outside of the plane. I have always done it. For luck," she told Yahoo. "Someone told me to do it, and I don't remember when that was. But it's kind of stuck."
Kit Harington: Doing Things in Threes
Although he is most known for his role of Jon Snow in Game of Thrones, before he found fame on the small screen, Kit Harington made a name for himself on the stage. While still in drama school, he landed the role of Albert Narracott in the play War Horse. How did he handle the pressures of a live audience every night?
While most actors go for the approach of imagining the audience naked to calm their nerves, Harington believed he found a better alternative. He did everything in threes before a show. Whether drinking water or munching on his favorite candies, it was three-way or no way! This is a habit we can get on board with.
Arianna Huffington: Sleeping In
When it comes to successful people we might want to follow in their ways, Arianna Huffington is a worthy choice. The creator and CEO of The Huffington Post, she's clearly doing something right! So what's behind her business success, and can we apply it to our lives?
While so many on this list claim the secret to success is maximizing the time awake, Arianna believes otherwise and champions the importance of a good night's sleep for fostering creativity. "Shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside us," she told the women at a Ted Talk in 2010.
Johnny Depp: Collecting Barbie Dolls
Johnny Depp's habit may be one of the most unusual entries on this list, but he swears he has his reasons behind it. Believe it or not, the guy that plays Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean has an intense Barbie doll collection in his home. Hear him out, though...
According to Depp, he started out by playing Barbies with his daughter, Lily-Rose. Throughout, he would use the dolls to try-out various character voices. Once his daughter outgrew the toys, he decided to hold onto the collection. Now it's somewhat of a passion, collecting celebrity and limited edition dolls.
Halle Berry: Doing Headstands
Halle Berry seems to be defying the laws of aging with her incredible physique and youthful looks. At the age of fifty-five, she appears to be getting younger with each year that goes by. Now we understand her secret is her habit of defying the laws of gravity. Berry is committed to doing headstands whenever she gets a chance.
The model/actress shared her latest yoga pose with pictures of her perfect upside-down form. "I've learned that meditation helps to balance your left brain and right brain, and as a result, I feel more creative, I can absorb information faster, and I experience better emotional health," she wrote.
Steve Jobs: Repeating Outfits Daily
Steve Jobs is famous for two things: for being the founder of the billion-dollar company Apple and for wearing the same thing every day. Any picture of Steve Jobs will show the genius in blue jeans, a black turtleneck, and sneakers. While most of us may find it odd, Jobs had reasons beyond laziness.
Former President, Barack Obama, was also a fan of this approach, insisting that having fewer clothes to choose from helped reduce his decision fatigue. The idea is that by preventing morning decisions, there's more mental capacity for other, more important decisions. It also allows for a few more minutes in bed!
Ashton Kutcher & Mila Kunis: Bathing Infrequently
When Mila Kunis and her husband Ashton Kutcher appeared on Dax Shepard's Armchair Expert podcast, they had no idea they would cause such a stir by revealing their unusual bathing habits. After the host mentioned that regularly using soap can remove the body's natural oils, the couple agreed that they rarely wash.
For Kunis, the habit was born out of a lack of hot water growing up, which meant she just didn't have the opportunity to shower much. Interestingly, the couple shared that they applied this practice to their kids too, who they only wash when they "can see dirt on them." Each to their own...
Albert Einstein: Letting Mind Wander
Most of us grew up being told by our parents and teachers that our daydreaming would get us nowhere. We were taught that the key to success is having a sharp and focused mind. So imagine our surprise to learn that one of the most remarkable people of all time, Albert Einstein, was a mind wanderer too.
It is believed that Einstein created his groundbreaking theory of special relativity during a daydreaming episode, imagining himself in all sorts of scenarios and predicting how different physical forces would behave. Scientist Fiona Kerr explains that daydreaming allows the brain to come up with out-the-box solutions and ideas.
Jennifer Lopez: Stirring Coffee Counter Clockwise
Jennifer Lopez's figure is the envy of many. Thankfully, she's shared the secret behind it. She declares it's all about drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated. On occasion, she'll allow herself to drink alcohol or coffee, but the coffee must be prepared in a very specific way.
According to Delish, the singer/actress and all-around legend insists that her coffee must be stirred counter-clockwise before being given to her. Although we would love to know what is behind this unusual drinking habit, Lopez has never discussed her reasonings. If it works for J-LO, we'll give it a try.
Kris Jenner: Waking Up Early
Ever heard the phrase, 'the devil works hard, but Kris Jenner works harder?' It may be a funny reference to the fact that Kris Jenner is a mastermind genius who managed to turn her entire family into a billion-dollar empire! But there's some truth behind it. In fact, the momager works so hard she barely sleeps.
Jenner has emphasized many times the importance of her morning routine. "I think a routine is very important to have some kind of ritual that you either do at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day," she told CNBC. For her, this means starting the day at around 4:30 am, having a coffee, and checking her e-mails.
Michael Phelps: Sleeping in a Capsule
Michael Phelps is a twenty-three-time Olympic-gold medal swimmer. How did he reach this level of success? Besides, of course, swimming for most hours of the day, he had another more surprising practice that he believes helped him to reach that center podium.
Talking to Anderson Cooper, Phelps explained he bought himself a sleeping chamber that simulates high altitude. It is believed the chamber works by maintaining a low-oxygen environment, as found at 8500 to 9000 feet. This forces Michael's body to work harder and 'train' even while sleeping.
Stephen King: Rearranging Work Space
Many abide by the words "tidy space, tidy mind," and apparently, so does Stephen King. The man who has written and sold more books than most authors combined has some words of advice when it comes to the workspace, and we would be fools not to take it into account.
King believes in the power of a well-arranged workspace. Not only should it be tidy, but it should be arranged in the same way every day. This, he believes, allows for a greater level of focus which is needed to write a book. Well, a good one, at least.
Katy Perry: Carrying Around Toothbrushes
Katy Perry's unusual habit was born out of a childhood trauma she experienced. As a kid, the Roar singer had thirteen cavities at one time, and she vowed to look after her teeth ever since. While certainly admirable, it could be argued that her oral hygiene habits are slightly over-the-top.
Multiple sources inside Katy Perry's close network claim that the popstar brushes her teeth six times a day. "I'll brush my teeth [after] breakfast, lunch, and dinner," she is quoted to have said. Additionally, it is believed that she carries twenty new toothbrushes on her at all times. This habit is not dentist-approved.
Warren Buffett: Playing Bridge
Some successful people's habits are odd and some kind of scary. Warren Buffett, the billionaire businessman, shows us that not all the practices on this list need to involve pushing one's body to its limits. He has shared on multiple occasions how much he loves to play bridge and boasts he can even beat Bill Gates.
"I play a lot," Buffett admitted to The Washington Post in 2017. "At least four sessions a week, about two hours a session." Buffett believes that the game keeps the brain stimulated. "It's the best exercise there is for the brain," he told the WP. "You are seeing a different intellectual challenge every seven minutes."
Shigeru Miyamoto: Measuring Things
While most of us will walk past a table or chair and not think of it again, Shigeru Miyamoto, the former director of Nintendo, can't quite say the same. He needs to know its measurements, and there's no greater thrill for him than guessing the length of something and then measuring it to see if he's right.
"I've always enjoyed guessing the lengths of objects, which is why I carry a measuring tape around with me," he told Escapist Magazine. The guessing accuracy tests his brain performance. "If I got it right, I'd think: 'I'm on form today!' But if I missed the mark by a long way, I'd think: 'I've been slipping a bit recently!'"
Keira Knightley: Cursing
She may be one of the most elegant British actresses in Hollywood, but it is believed the Royals would not approve of Keira Knightley's vocabulary. Put simply: She likes to swear, a lot. "That is my vice, swearing. And I really enjoy it. But you know what, my mum swears quite a lot," she told The Mirror.
Like some of the other entries on this list, there's believed to be a link between cursing and success. According to the people over at Bustle, "when things are tough, cursing allows us to release some pent-up energy, making more room for continuing on going — to get more done." This may be the reason - or Keira just likes to swear.
Tim Cook: 3:30 a.m. Work Outs
It takes serious dedication to be a leader of a billion-dollar company like Apple. When Tim Cook took over the position of CEO from Steve Jobs, he developed a rigorous morning routine, which he believes is responsible for his success. After waking up at 3 a.m. and reading Apple user comments, Cook heads to the gym.
The self-described "fitness nut" is not alone. Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson also stress the importance of early morning exercise. "I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career if I hadn't always placed importance on my health and fitness," Branson revealed in a blog.
Simon Cowell: Climbing Trees
The mastermind behind X-Factor and America's Got Talent has a secret talent of his own - and no, it's not singing. Simon Cowell revealed to GQ Magazine that his daily routine includes a surprising hobby. The millionaire television and music mogul has a habit of climbing a tree every morning.
After breakfast in bed, Cowell heads out to find a tree. "It's like a ritual," he told GQ. "It just puts me in a good mood. It's less depressing than watching the news." If this unexpected habit is the secret behind Simon's successful career, we will not judge. He is the judge of all judges, after all.
Sandy Lerner: Jousting
Whether it's jogging or swimming, it's long been known that taking up an active-style hobby can help to keep the mind sharp and creative. Sandy Lerner, the co-founder of Cisco Systems and CEO of Urban Decay, took a slightly more dangerous angle on this approach.
During a mid-life crisis, Lerner developed a love for jousting. The woman is such a fan of the sport she told The Los Angeles Times that she bought herself an 800-acre farm in Virginia, sewed her own jousting outfit, and breeds shire horses for matches.
Fergie: Daily Shots of Vinegar
Mary Poppins taught us that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," but Fergie swears a shot of vinegar will also do the trick. For many years now, the singer has credited her physique and good health to this daily habit which she learned from her personal trainer, Natasha Kufa.
"I do vinegar shots. It has to be organic apple cider, unfiltered. Two tablespoons. For some reason, I've noticed a difference to my stomach," she told People Magazine. The benefits are not purely for weight loss; it is believed to help with food digestion, colon flushing, and craving reduction. Magical stuff.
George Washington: Binging on Ice Cream
Even the founding fathers can have a weakness for sweet treats. For George Washington, there was one delicacy in particular that he had a habit of binging on - ice cream. According to the Smithsonian, the former US president was a big fan of the food when it was brought to America by the French.
Due to the limited resources it required to be made, it was referred to at the time as a 'rich man's treat.' Despite this, Washington was unafraid of looking 'out of touch' and purchased multiple ice cream pots and materials during his time as president. Hey, if it worked for Washington, who are we to say no?
Kesha: Bathing in Glitter
We're familiar with an ice bath or a boiling hot bath for calming pre-show nerves, but this one is a first. Kesha, the woman who is famous for singing Tik Tok and Blow, has a very original bathing ritual that she does to get ready for a performance. Believe it or not, she has a habit of bathing in a tub full of glitter.
"I cover my body in baby oil and sit in a bathtub full of glitter cause it's just the easiest way to get it all over your body," she told TIME magazine. "I go through a couple hundred gallons of glitter," she admitted. She even hired herself a glitter roadie. In layman terms, that's the designated glitter coordinator.
Elon Musk: Assumes He's Always Wrong
He may arguably be one of the world's most successful people, but Elon Musk is in the habit of assuming he is always in the wrong. But honestly, this doesn't surprise us. After all, he has been known for being pretty unconventional. But is his tactic the reason he has become so triumphant?
According to the SpaceX founder, "You should take the approach that you're wrong." He explained that others can better spot our flaws. "A well-thought-out critique of whatever you're doing is as valuable as gold," Musk said. "You should seek that from everyone you can, but particularly your friends." Interesting...
Benjamin Franklin: Taking Air-Baths
Benjamin Franklin loved to swim. The founding father understood the power of endorphins that come from exercising and had a habit of taking long-distance swims to keep his mind sharp. However, this isn't the habit he was famous for. It was what he did when he returned from the swimming sessions that had everyone talking.
Rather than bathe, according to the Smithsonian Magazine, Franklin had a habit of taking 'air baths.' What does this mean exactly? Well, it's simply a polite way of saying he sat naked before he returned to work. With his window open, he sat "without any clothes whatever, half an hour or hour, according to the season."
Yoshiro Nakamatsu: Self-Drowning
In order to reach success, many people push their bodies to the absolute limit. Yoshiro Nakamatsu, however, takes this concept to a whole new level. The Japanese inventor who created phenomenons such as the taxi meter, floppy disk, and digital clock has one of the most dangerous habits of all.
Yoshiro, now 85-years-old, has a habit of submerging his head in water until the last possible moment, believing that "the best ideas come 0.5 seconds before dying." Anticipating the possibility that he may forget his great ideas while scrambling to the surface, he created an "underwater writing system." Not one to try at home.