What Do You Have In Common With The Most Successful People In The World?

How do successful people accomplish more than others?

I recently got to interview one of the most successful people that I have ever met. Lee Cockerell was a college dropout and Army veteran. When he got out of the military, he started working at a Hilton Hotel as a waiter. Through hard work and perseverance, Lee enjoyed a long career that led him to become the Executive Vice President of Walt Disney World Resort. That meant that he was in charge of over 40,000 employees, 20 hotels, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping and entertainment village, and the ESPN sports and recreation complex. Lee has gone on to be an entrepreneur, speaker, and best-selling author. Even in “retirement”, he is still busier than anyone I know. He revealed one of the secrets of his success during our interview. 

Simply put, some very busy people get it all done, and

some people who are not all that busy don’t get much done.

                                                 - Lee Cockerell

He said to me that the most accomplished people in the world — Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison — all had one thing in common with everyone else. They all have the same number of hours in a day. What we do with our time has the greatest effect on what we achieve with our loves. He takes that to heart, and he makes sure to lay out each day to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of what he needs to get done. And if our time is wasted on things that don’t push us toward our goals or to doing things that don’t make us happy, then we can only blame ourselves. 

Time doesn’t have to be spent just on pursuing work goals. Lee talks in his book that he scheduled calls with his mother, because he knew he had a habit of pushing that aside when he got sidetracked with other things. This is something that I have heard other successful and happy people talk about. Time management isn’t just about getting things that you have to get done each day. It also includes the things that you WANT to get done each day. Lee joked on the podcast that some people spend hours watching, “The Kardashians,” yet that brings them little value to their lives. Living a fulfilling life doesn’t necessarily mean earning more than anyone else. There are many examples of people who have achieved great signs of external success, such as wealth and fame, but when you ask them to reflect on their regrets, they talk about missing out on things that they actually cared about — seeing their children grow up, learning a new language, or just reading a book. 


Becoming successful can lead you down a cycle of working to achieve goals, but never making time to enjoy the fruits of your labors. You might think that you can make time for that stuff later, but I would argue that it’s tough to get that time back. It’s important to reflect on the things that you want out of life, and make sure that things that require time are also built into your schedule. I think you’ll find that if you figure out that balance early, you will achieve success much earlier than you expect. For more of Lee’s advice on how to better manage your time, check out his book, Time Management Magic: How To Get More Done Every Day And Move From Surviving To Thriving.