Think about the most successful people you know. Do they handle themselves differently compared with others in your circles? Whether it's consistently getting out of bed before dawn, taking their health seriously, or relentlessly working on self-improvement, it cannot be denied that these high achievers challenge themselves, and not just at work. That's according to psychologist Dr. Jason Richardson, who maintained top-10 status on the professional BMX circuit for most of his 15-year career, retiring with a gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games. His philosophy: Whether it's eating differently, biking to work, taking a dance or cooking class, or even brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand, trying out a new habit for 30, 60, or 90 days brings huge benefits. Here's what he says you can gain by challenging yourself on a personal level.

1. Expectations

By constantly striving for self-improvement, you are role modeling diligence. "It would be hard for others to complain about you asking your team to do the same," he says.

2. Empathy

When you challenge yourself, you become acutely aware of what it is like to venture on a new path. "Constantly dealing with your own emotions during a challenge can help you coach and communicate to your team on a more cellular level as they experience their respective growing pains," he says.

3. Perspective

Pushing yourself forces your brain to find the best way to get things done. And if you practice a new skill long enough, your neurons fire and wire together to make it a habit. "We learn to look at things differently," he says. "We connect dots that might not have otherwise even been noticed."

4. Mettle

This word is a noun that means "courage and fortitude." It's true--self-improvement takes time, dedication, and strength. "It is good to know you still got it and can get it," he says. "More importantly, you are willing to go for it."