How High Achievers Think Differently from Others

June 25, 2018 |Gideon Hanekom

yes, there is still time to save your marriage!

watch the video below to discover what to stop doing and learn 3 key steps to remain happily married.

Why do some people seem to achieve most things while others struggle? Here’s why – high achievers create different results in their lives because they harbour different mindsets, have different habits, and surround themselves with different people than most other people. Consequently, they get different results in life. So, the question in this post is: How can YOU also become a high-achiever? 

“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves. – THOMAS EDISON

Here is a really challenging question:

“Is the life that you’re living at the moment, astounding you?”

See, the issue is not being better than someone else, but rather being the best that you can be.

Thomas Edison said that we would literally astound ourselves if we did all the things we were capable of doing.

I believe that to be true.

People are amazing.

Even when life throws some really tough curveballs at us, many still find a way to rise above it and achieve at levels others can’t even dream of.

Take Amy Purdy’s story, for example, of how she went from dying and losing both her legs to becoming the first woman to win a medal as a Paralympic snowboarder (watch it below).

People can do incredible things if they apply themselves.

But the question is not whether people are amazing or not.

We know we are.

The question is,

Are YOU living as the best version of yourself right now?

Are you astounding yourself?

Or have you settled for mediocrity?

Human Needs Psychology (coined by Anthony Robbins) tells us that true fulfilment and happiness, come from progress and growth.

When we grow or feel that we are making progress, we typically feel happier and more fulfilled than when we are stagnated.

So how do we grow?

How do we create feelings of fulfilment?

How do we live as our best version every day?

I believe, in order to answer these questions, we have to consider what high achievers are doing differently from the rest.

This is not about “some are better than others,” but rather an issue of “what is the difference that makes the difference.”

Those we admire and the world honours, the high-achievers, typically live (or have lived) in their top 1%.

So we consider them to be the best of the best.

And we can learn from them.

High-achievers aren’t just working harder than the bottom 99%. You can’t grunt your way to the top.

High levels of success do require hard work, but the work must be smart, too.

In a nutshell, the bottom 99% are focused on the wrong things, prioritise short-term comfort over success, and fail to take enough action.

High achievers, on the other hand, aren’t necessarily smarter or more capable, but they do use their time and manage themselves differently than most.

That’s why they create or achieve different results than most.

So where do we start?

We have to start by understanding the difference between high achievers and everyone else.

Then apply what we learn.

Understand the differences between high achievers and everyone else

They lead themselves first

“To move the world, we must first move ourselves.” – SOCRATES

In order to create the results you truly desire in your personal or professional life, you must start with yourself.

Practising self-discipline and leading yourself is the key that unlocks the treasure.

I used to be someone teaching others about success principles like focus, effective goal setting, time management, and self-discipline; while failing to recognise just how much incongruency there was between my words and actions.

I was seriously overweight at the time.

Now, I’ve got no judgement towards anyone that’s overweight, but in my case, it impacted my message and credibility I believe.

I now simply believe that an overweight leader or teacher, of any kind, has to be taken up with a grain of salt.


Because, a true leader, pacesetter, or role model will always lead themselves first, have high standards for themselves first, and be a role model to themselves first.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe not. Maybe that’s too harsh.

But that’s where I’m at for the moment.

I do not expect you to believe in me or the credibility of my teachings on success (for example) when you can clearly see that I have no self-discipline or control when it comes to something as simple as food.

It simply creates a question in one’s mind about the actual power of what’s being said or taught.

I completely agree with Socrates in this regard.

To move the world, you must move YOU first.

It’s a lot easier when you feel confident in your own “success” to reflect that credible energy to those around you. And they will pick it up.

Since I’ve lost more than 60 lbs (30 kg) and have become far fitter in my late 30s than I was in my 20s and early 30s, my confidence to challenge people from an authentic place to improve themselves, has skyrocketed.

Before, I talked about principles. Now, I live them.

And that’s a much more powerful message than empty words.

So, don’t merely talk to your kids about healthy living.

Step up, and lead a healthy life yourself first.

If you’re in sales and you’re trying to convince your prospects of how hard you will work for them, step up and show them how hard you work for and on yourself first.

Let there be no doubt in their minds that you are a model of self-discipline, control and focus. Because there is no way I will let you manage my million-dollar property when you can’t even manage your mouth around the fridge or when it comes to things like alcohol.

I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true.

Those that live as high achievers understand and live self-leadership, no matter which area in life we’re talking about.

Therefore, ask yourself:

  • Am I truly in control of myself – thoughts, feelings, and actions – at the moment?
  • Am I moving ME first?

High achievers attack the day early

Almost all high achievers share a very specific habit.

I wrote about this in my eBook “A Secret Habit of Super Achievers.”

They get a good start on the day which means they have momentum when it matters most.

While the other 99% are trying to figure out what to do (or are still waking up), high-achievers are already busy with their most important tasks or laying the foundation that makes all the difference for the rest of their day.

They have created rituals early in the morning and make the most of the early hours and consequently the day.

high achievers

Action trumps knowledge

High achievers are knowledgeable, but they know a secret.

A good plan that is followed aggressively and persistently always beats a great plan that’s implemented half-heartedly.

Know what you need to know and then get busy making it happen.

An unquenchable thirst for knowledge is often fear in disguise.

I have seen this many times with salespeople over the years.

Some simply crush it, while others struggle to get going and never really create great results.

I’ve always wondered what the difference is that makes a difference.

Especially since those who typically succeed don’t always have the most knowledge.

I mean, some do, but not always.

Yet, I’ve seen some really knowledgeable people with huge levels of experience, fall behind others.

Why is that?

I think it comes down to this point here.

Action always trumps knowledge.

An analogy I love using is the one of a supercar in your garage.

That car can have a massive amount of power and potential, but without anyone driving it, it’s just another car going nowhere.

Somebody has to get in it and tap into its potential in order to get the most out of it. In other words, somebody has to drive it for it to go somewhere.

high achievers

The same goes for you and me.

You can have all the knowledge and experience in the world, but if you decide not to do anything with it (i.e. not take action), you ain’t going anywhere.

Your results will be few and far between.

And someone with less knowledge and experience will outperform you every day of the week if they are willing to do the hard yards and you’re not.

So you have to ask yourself,

What is the balance between knowledge and action for you at the moment?

Are you leaning more towards researching, learning, reading, going through courses, attending seminars; all at the cost of action?

Because if that’s the case, no amount of knowledge will get you the results you want.

Knowledge not applied is no knowledge at all.

In fact, the old saying that “knowledge is power” is all wrong.

Knowledge is only potential power.

It becomes powerful the moment you apply it consistently and diligently.

Goals are achieved by systems

William Edwards Deming had a saying that goes,

“Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results that you’re getting.”

A system of eating nutritiously and exercising results in health and fitness.

A system of saving and investing leads to wealth.

A system (rituals) of love leads to a life filled with love and happiness.

High-achievers look for effective systems to implement because they know with the right systems in place, goals are attained automatically.

high achievers

A big difference between successful and unsuccessful people is habits.

Habits are the one thing that can make or break your results.

Habits are also the thing that helped me lose more than 30 kg and turn my health and fitness around.

Therefore, I’m a huge proponent of putting good habits in place.

Habits are just a type of system, effectively.

They are automatic actions/behaviours you do over time without thinking that yield a certain result.

Now, of course, there are positive and negative habits.

But both have an equal amount of power.

Negative habits can destroy your results just as much as positive habits can create them.

Therefore, it’s super important to be aware of your current habits; both personally and professionally.

What do you do consistently, without thinking, that is giving you certain results at this moment?

It only takes one or two habits to either make or break your desired results.

The high achievers are always looking for the most effective habits (systems) to put in place that will serve their desired outcomes.

They don’t rely on one or two things done sporadically and inconsistently.

They definitely do not rely on luck.

They do the research, find the best system, and apply it diligently.

They are not lucky, but wise.

High achievers have priorities

Having too many priorities results in having none.

You can’t be a world-class artist, dog trainer, yoga expert, and bowler.

I mean, some people can, but most cannot.

Most of us have to be strong enough to whittle down our priorities to the few that truly matter the most to us.

That’s a good way to improve your chances of mastery and success.

Channelling your strengths and aligning your values with your goals, is a smart way of setting yourself up for more success.

Running around after every shiny object or opportunity is not.

Having too many priorities is a path to mediocrity.

  • What are you really passionate about?
  • What is really important to you?
  • What do you love doing?
  • What will you do, even if you don’t get paid for it?
  • What are you really good at?
  • What do you suck at?

How much do the answers to these few questions play a role in your decision-making at the moment?

Always remember that energy flows where focus goes.

Or, whatever you focus on expands.

When you choose to focus on too many things at once, you do it at your own peril.

Your results will suffer.

You might feel like you’re achieving heaps because you’re so busy, but the truth is, you’re actually doing everything half-mast.

The top 1% high achievers make networking a priority

You can never have too many friends or know too many people.

Having many long-term acquaintances can be powerful. You’ll have a constant supply of assistance and opportunities.

Knowing the right people is an important part of becoming part of the top 1%.

high achievers

I have a belief that the quickest way to achieve any result in life, is through other people.

That doesn’t mean they achieve your results on your behalf, but it means they are a resource we can all tap into.

Think about it like this – every result that you desire has already been achieved by someone else somewhere in the world.

Now, rather than going at it from scratch, doesn’t it make more sense to learn from those people and apply what they can teach?

Why reinvent the wheel if it’s already been invented?

A lot of people want to be unique and therefore spend a lot of time trying to figure things out themselves. And that’s great.

I believe we all have to learn and grow our knowledge and skills.

But, for the sake of rapid application (the whole knowledge Vs. action issue we talked about before), we have to speed up the learning process.

And the fastest way to do this is by learning from others who have already achieved what we want to achieve.

High achievers understand this.

The bottom 99% fluff around in mediocrity and ignorance.

Here’s my challenge to you this month:

  • Write down anyone result you would like to achieve over the next six months.
  • Once you have that, find someone (in the off-line or online world) and start modelling some of the principles they teach or embody.

By doing this, you will fast track your results, guaranteed.

They make money a priority

They’re not just good at saving.

High-achievers are also good at investing their money wisely.

They pay their bills on time, avoid unnecessary debt, and get professional help when necessary.

One of the best pieces of financial wisdom I’ve ever learned, and changed how I look at things today, is the difference between an asset and a liability.

And the reason why I still remember it is because of the simple definitions of both an asset and a liability.

An asset is something that puts money in your pocket.

A liability is something that takes money out of your pocket.

asset 1482529566 high achievers

Simple right?

So, whenever I now look at something, I always assess whether it is an asset or a liability.

Will, where I’m about to park my money, put more money into my pocket or take money out of it?

With this in mind, it is very simple to assess so-called investments.

A new car takes money out of my pocket and therefore is a liability.

Like it or not, that’s what it is.

A commercial property puts money in my pocket (overtime at least and hopefully :) ) and is, therefore, an asset.

The same with education. It’s an asset. The return I get is much higher than the cost.

Buying a personal home as a first major investment is surprise surprise, a liability.

Yes, even though you have potential capital gain eventually, it doesn’t put money in your pocket. You get no income from it.

In fact, and I’m speaking from personal experience, it actually hinders your system somewhat to invest freely in other things.

But that’s just my opinion.

Another way of thinking about it is, will this thing I’m about to invest in (time, energy or money) give me a greater ROI (return on investment)?

And this is not just applicable to financial things, but also intangible things like happiness and joy.

Will I be investing my time and energy into this activity or that person improve or increase my levels of joy and happiness?

High achievers always look for a greater return on investment.

Especially, with money.

And they have the financial habits to back it up.

The bottom 99% do not.

They might work hard, no denying that, but their financial system is letting them down.

I’ve tested this over and over with financially successful and unsuccessful people.

Both these groups simply think vastly differently about life, money, wealth, investments and opportunities.

High achievers are accutely aware of their weaknesses

High achievers know what they can and can’t do. They avoid their weaknesses or find a way to deal with them.

A good rule of thumb is to play to your strengths.

Awareness and focusing on, are two different things.

You can be aware of something without focusing on it too much.

It is absolutely vital to be aware of your weaknesses, without focusing on them too much.

Always try and play to your strengths.

A lot of research has been done on this and the same conclusion is reached every time.

Focusing on your weaknesses, and trying to eliminate them, is not the best use of your time and energy.

Spend more time understanding and developing your strengths, while also finding ways to apply them diligently and consistently.

This is a much faster route to success.

Therefore let me ask you,

  • Do you know your strengths?
  • Are you aware of your weaknesses?
  • Which one do you focus on most of the time at the moment?

If you find that you’re spending too much time worrying and focusing on your weaknesses (such as trying to eliminate them), change that.

Start focusing on developing and using your strengths instead.

high achievers

If you discover that you’re in a role that places emphasis on your weaknesses and demands that you constantly have to work around them to perform optimally, perhaps it’s time to rethink that role.

You either have to find a way to apply your strengths more or shift into a role that requires your strengths.

This will lead to more happiness and fulfilment on your part, which in turn will result in higher productivity.

This is a scientific fact.

They focus on the long-term

Delaying gratification is a key to becoming highly successful.

In the 60s and 70s a series of studies on delaying gratification called, Stanford Marshmallow Experiment, was done at Stanford University.

In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards (i.e., a larger later reward) if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned.

In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes.

High-achievers have learned or conditioned themselves to delay gratification in the short-term for a bigger reward in the long-term.

The reality is, average people, satisfy their short-term cravings.

It is all about immediate gratification.

And when we look around us (here in the Western world at least) it is very evident.

People are typically shortsighted and make decisions based on that.

However, if you want to be more like a high achiever, you’ll have to learn how to keep your eye on greater rewards in the long run.

One personal development teacher used the analogy of eating dessert.

He said that most people in life today want to have dessert before their main meal.

However, our parents taught us to eat dessert after the main meal, because they understood that dessert is a treat and not our main source of nutrition.

However, most people today want to have dessert without having to go through the main meal.

And in my case, it was literally this.

I had to go through the main meal before I was allowed any dessert.

That’s how my mum got me to eat veggies :)

And now I do the same with my kids LOL.

They emphasise finding solutions to their challenges

The key to making a lot of money or achieving challenging goals in resolving your challenges.

Simply put, you have to become a solution finder rather than a problem creator.

Because that’s what high-achievers do.

You always have the choice to search for solutions and avoid getting too hung up on the issue itself, or getting caught up in the problem.

The better way is to find a possible solution as quickly as possible and get to work.

“No matter what happens, it is within my power to turn it to my advantage.” -EPICTETUS

In order to develop a solution-focused mindset, you have to develop a can-do mindset first.

This means training your mind to focus on what you can achieve before you deal with the obstacles and problems on your path.

Doing this will help you to naturally focus on solutions and what you can create, rather than get hung up on the difficulties of any particular problem or challenge.

High-achievers understand this.

They see opportunities and possibilities where others see obstacles and problems.

high achievers

But it starts with having a very specific focus.

In particular, a focus on solutions, what is possible, and doing whatever is necessary to create the desired outcome.

Ask yourself this,

Are you a solution finder or a problem creator?

Start training yourself to focus on creating solutions during sticky situations rather than intensifying the situation by emphasising the problem.

Remember, energy flows where focus goes.

If your focus goes towards the problem, that’s where your creative energy will flow.

It will leave you very little to overcome the challenge.

Final thoughts

Anyone can become a high achiever, but it requires a change in thinking and focus.

You have a choice every single day to live at your highest potential.

You can go for either good or great (or average).

So why not go for great?

It is often a small shift in your mindset and focus that can lead to a major change in your results, and therefore life.

People oftentimes make the mistake of thinking they need to change everything at once to set their life on a new path.

But this is a myth.

Making a 1mm change doesn’t mean much over 5m but it does over 500 km.

It can literally mean the difference between success and absolute disaster.

Therefore always remember the power of making a small change and sticking to it.

I absolutely love the Pareto principle that states that 20% is responsible for 80%.

You can make a 20% change which will yield you an 80% difference in the outcome.

But again, it all comes down to a choice.

A decision on your part.

You have to choose to set your priorities and stick to them.

You have to decide to manage your money wisely and network like your life depends on it.

It is your choice to focus on developing the right systems to achieve your goals and emphasise action.

And only you can take the action required that will bring the results you desire closer.

Make the right choice. Be great. Start living as a high achiever.

If you have any thoughts, comments, or questions – just leave them below for me to respond to them personally.

Live and love fully my Friend!

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

is your marriage 'on the rocks?' then read the following NOW...

If you’re reading this right now, then chances are your marriage isn’t what it used to be… and maybe it’s so bad, that you feel like your world is falling apart.

You feel like all the passion, the love, and romance have completely faded.

You feel like you and your partner can’t stop yelling at each other.

And maybe you feel that there’s almost nothing you can do to save your marriage, no matter how hard you try.

But you’re wrong.

You CAN save your marriage — even if your husband or wife says they want a divorce.

You CAN rebuild that passion you felt for one another when you first kissed. And you can bring back that love and devotion you felt for one another when both of you said, “I love you” for the first time.

If you feel like your marriage is worth fighting for, then do yourself a favour and watch this quick video that will teach you everything you need to know about salvaging the most important thing in the world:

==> Watch the video 'Save Your Marriage Now' by Brad Browning now (VIDEO)!

In this video, you’ll learn the 3 critical mistakes that most couples commit that rip marriages apart. Most couples will never learn how to fix these three simple mistakes.

You’ll also learn a simple, proven “Marriage Saving” method that makes marriage counsellors look like kindergarten teachers.

So if you feel like your marriage is about to take its last few breaths, then I urge you to watch this quick video:

Make Your Spouse Adore You Again:

Watch this FREE training video!

You’ve got nothing to lose.

Except your marriage...

You may also like...

3 Things A Man Wants From A Woman