What if you could be happier and more successful in just four easy steps? It’s the kind of claim that sounds too good to be true.
Then again, when someone as wealthy and powerful as Bill Gates is offering advice, we listen!
Over the years, Bill Gates has spoken about the simple habits that helped him become so successful. Here are Bill Gates’ four simple habits for success that you can start practicing today.
1. Empower your employees
Bill Gates knows that being truly successful means thinking about the future. And Inc. reports some of Gates’ most powerful thoughts on this matter: “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
What does this mean, though, in practical terms? Basically, you are guaranteed to face assorted challenges and crises as you go through life. If you want to become a leader, you need to become the kind of person that doesn’t just overcome challenges — you help others overcome them as well.
Sometimes, this means leading by example and showing people how it’s done. Other times, it’s being mindful of the challenges others face (ranging from loneliness to money troubles) and being empathetic enough to help others deal with these challenges.
Simply put, the best leaders of today are already cultivating the leaders of tomorrow. In this way, every day is a chance to improve the future.
2. Feed your curiosity daily
The term “growth mindset” gets tossed around quite a bit by those who don’t always know what they are talking about. But when Gates spoke to students, alumni, and parents at his old high school in Seattle, he explained the growth mindset in practical, down-to-earth terms.
It all started when a student asked Gates a direct question. “What are the skills today’s students need to know to thrive in the world of 2030 and 2040?”
And Gates had a simple response: “For the curious learner, these are the best of times, because your ability to constantly refresh your knowledge with either podcasts or lectures that are online is better than ever.”
Gates still values traditional learning from books, and he strives to read at least 50 books each year. But his answer to the student points out that every day is filled with opportunities for curious people to learn.
By adding a podcast to your morning commute or putting on a documentary while you’re cooking dinner, you can transform all of these drab moments into learning moments. And all of these moments add up to making you more successful and happy.
3. Focus on what’s important
Like many successful people, Bill Gates cautions us to focus on the important things in life. But what does that actually mean to one of the richest people in the world?
Thrive Global reports that one of Gates’ biggest inspirations is Warren Buffett. And Warren helped to teach a young Gates a very important lesson. As Gates says, “No matter how much money you have, you can’t buy more time. There are only 24 hours in everyone’s day. Warren has a keen sense of this. He doesn’t let his calendar get filled up with useless meetings.”
In practical terms, this means approaching your daily activities and weekly calendar with a simple question: “Is this really important right now?” You may be shocked by how many times the answer is a clear and resounding “no.”
What should you actually do with your newfound spare time? First, it doesn’t hurt to reconnect and emotionally recharge. Some of that extra time would be perfect for a romantic lunch with your spouse or a trip to the local park with your children.
Otherwise, you can simply focus on productivity. Clearing your schedule of useless meetings or unnecessary projects helps you make room for working on your next big thing.
4. Learn to delegate
Given the immense success of Microsoft, you might expect Bill Gates to be the kind of leader who takes care of everything himself. However, Gates points out that much of his success comes from the fact that he knows how to delegate.
When he first founded Microsoft, Bill Gates didn’t know the meaning of the word “delegate.” As Fox Business reports, Gates avoided taking vacations, conducted all interviews himself, and even wrote every line of code (even if someone else wrote code, Gates would rewrite it).
While that worked for a short period of time, Gates soon realized he could not micromanage everything while growing his company. Fox points out that Gates was very candid about this matter during a Q&A session at Harvard in 2018.
He credits the later success of Microsoft to him finally learning how to delegate. “I had to have the framework to know what mix of skills that we needed,” he said. Later, he added, “Picking what you’re good at and how you find the other people to fill in those things, that’s super important.”
This boils down to a simple truth: everyone needs to be honest with themselves about both their strengths and their limits. By focusing on what you do best while working with others who have different skills, you can create a better future for yourself and a better future for the world.