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Imitating the Rituals of the Rich and Successful

Where would the self-help and business media be without the secret habits of highly successful people? Almost every week there’s a new article outlining a high-flying individual’s behaviors—with the implied promise that using the same techniques could deliver us fame and fortune, too.

You’ll hear how top CEOs like Elon Musk begin work early, skip breakfast, and divide their time into small, manageable tasks. Other inspirational figures are more idiosyncratic in their habits. Bill Gates, for example, would reportedly rock backwards and forwards in his chair while brainstorming. This was a bodily means of focusing his mind that apparently spread across the Microsoft boardroom. Further back in history, Charles Dickens carried around a compass so he could sleep facing north, something he believed would contribute to more productive writing. Beethoven counted exactly 60 coffee beans for each cup, which he used to power his composing.

Why do successful people follow such eccentrically specific habits? And why are we so keen to read about them and mimic them in our own lives?

A key reason for this is that humans are social creatures; we are primed to look to people of higher status for advice. Given this tendency, it may be only natural that, reading a biography of a famous writer or watching an interview with a billionaire businessperson, we are tempted to take on their idiosyncratic rites and rituals. All in the hope that we can somehow achieve the same success, without recognizing how many other factors would have played a role in their achievements.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Copying a successful business leader’s superstitious habits and idiosyncrasies is not a guarantee of success in the business world. However, Scripture does tell us to “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith” (Heb. 13:7). Following the godly habits of our spiritual leaders is a sure way to success in our spiritual life.

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