What's the difference between powerful people and everyone else?

One major difference is this: Powerful people do hard things.

It takes guts to do tough stuff. Most of us are content to avoid problems, confrontations, uncomfortable situations, or agonizing tasks. As a result, we seldom feel a sense of power and achievement. Worse, we go through life not growing and maturing.

Facing difficulty is one of the key ways we can change. Here are some of the tough things that powerful people do to shape their lives for the better.

1. They wake up early every day.

Powerful and productive people rise early. It's a theme in the biographies of winners and achievers, from Ben Franklin to Barack Obama.

Early rising is an act of power. You are demonstrating power over the mattress, power over your schedule, power over your will, and power over the slumbering world.

Getting up early comes with a host of benefits. You can use the time to exercise, meditate, plan, churn through major tasks, and prepare for the day.

Rising early should not mean that you get any less sleep. If you want to wake up early, you'll have to go to bed early, too. That in itself is an act of power.

2. They ask for what they want.

If you don't ask for what you want, you'll never get it. Powerful people can achieve things because they ask for them.

Powerful people realize and accept this brutal fact about life: Other people do not care for your needs and wants like you do. You are the single person who knows best what you need. What's more, you are the single person who should ask for these things.

Once you come to a clear understanding of what you need and want, learn to ask for it. Here are some tips for asking for what you want:

  • Be a bold asker. Being direct is the best way to ask.
  • Make specific requests.
  • Learn to accept a no.
  • Don't be afraid to ask again.

The reason why some people get what they want is because they ask for it. The rest of us live within our fears, our limitations, and our inadequacies.

Be bold. Be an asker.

3. They say no.

Saying no is a power move.

It really doesn't matter how you say no, what you say no to, or why you say it. Just the fact that you can say it proves that you have power.

I've learned to use the power of no in negotiation, but I've also seen how it can make radical things happen in my personal life. When I decided to say no to busywork, extraneous requests, negative people, and time-wasting activities, I saw my productivity skyrocket and my enjoyment improve.

Don't be afraid to say no. Saying no negative, hurtful, unkind, or discouraging things is one of the best things you can do to become more powerful.

4. They read instead of watch TV.

The world's powerful and wealthy aren't into TV watching. Apparently, only 6 percent of wealthy people watch reality shows. 67 percent of them watch an hour or less of TV every day.

What the heck are they doing with their time? For one, they're focusing on things that improve their lives and prosper their business. And that brings us to their preferred pastime: reading.

According to Thomas Corley, author of Rich Habits, rich people "love reading." Eighty-six percent of them. Eighty-eight percent of wealthy people read as much as 30 minutes a day. Instead of the latest thriller or romance novel, they are immersed in works of nonfiction and self-improvement.

Take a page from the book of the world's powerful, and start reading.

5. They don't care what other people think.

If you haven't done it in a while, take a look at the list of the world's most powerful people.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a unifying feature for these people. They come from different ethnicities, different educational backgrounds, different religions, different political persuasions, different everything. But all of them could not care less what other people think.

This isn't to say that they are rude. You ought to care about people, but you need not cater to people's whims or reactions regarding your life and behavior. Live in such a way that shows you care for people, but not in a tiptoe, hush-hush, better-not-do-that sort of way.

You don't owe it to anyone to live your life to a certain standard. It's important to have the backing of a few friends and a loyal customer base. Beyond this, however, you shouldn't feel the need to pander to the expectations or cultural mores of any particular group.

If you try to please everyone, you'll fail. Every time.

Take a different approach. Instead of trying to please a certain constituency, simply do what you do best. Let the chips fly. Let the critics rail. Let the pundits pontificate. Meanwhile, you'll be growing in power and influence among the people that really matter.

Conclusion

So, let's ask the tough question. How do they do it? To make it even more pointed, how can you do it, too?

There's a tough answer for a tough question. The solution is found in creating habits. The power of habits, as research indicates, takes your life from mundane to marvelous.

The process is not easy, not instant, and probably not enjoyable. Depending on your personality and life approach, forging a new habit may feel like rubbing your face with sandpaper.

The screech of the alarm clock. The agony of no TV time. The ponderous slogging through a book. The uncomfortable conversation about your need or want.

The beauty of habits is not in the process, but in the place where they take you--farther, higher, better. Business Insider's exposé on the habits of the rich made this statement: "Your daily habits may be a major determinant of your wealth."

Whether you feel powerful or not, you can start creating the habits today that will transform your life.

Published on: Jun 4, 2015