What the habits of geniuses remind us

Not long ago a good friend recommended a book about the habits of the greatest creatives, called Daily Rituals, written by Mason Currey.

The short book is fairly popular among artist and writing circles. For a seemingly fair reason: who wouldn’t want to learn how to be more like Charles Dickens, Andy Warhol, Twyla Tharp, Benjamin Franklin, or Jane Austin? If we can learn the habits that may have led to their success, will that increase the likelihood of us being successful?

Unequivocally no. The habits of someone else will not make you more or less likely to follow their path to ideas or success. No more than living in the same city that Picasso lived in will make you a great artist. You cannot become Elon Musk by eating the same breakfast as he does. Studying the habits of Einstein will not make you a genius.

Without any doubt there is something to the habits of others that is fascinating and possibly insightful. If we can peek into trends in habits, or observe possible behaviors we may not have considered or been cognizant of in the past, we unlock new doors for our own habits.

What books like Daily Rituals teach us is less about which habits lead to success and more about which artists or inventors were capable of shaping their habits to better fulfill their personal needs and processes. Einstein slept few hours because he simply didn’t need the sleep. Benjamin Franklin would wake around 5 every morning to ask himself “What good shall I do this day?” and that worked wonders for him.

But in each case what these examples tell us is the same wisdom we must focus on in our daily explorations and practices: read of other’s habits, yes, but don’t expect their solutions to be yours too. Instead: find what works for you. Be diligent about trying new things and being open to change or opportunities. You may find those opportunities in books like Daily Rituals or Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans, but you may also simply need to go out and explore on your own.