Successful people have a few things in common. They love what they do, find meaning behind what they do and display relentless dedication and passion in an infectious way.
I’ve once worked for a remarkable boss who had just turned 80 at the time and one thing was clear. Nothing was stopping him from pursuing his life vision. He clerked for two US Supreme Court Justices, became Partner at a Wall Street law firm, linked arms with formidable leaders including Kissinger and various international Presidents and played a pivotal role in the opening of US-China relations in 1972. He also wrote for the South China Morning Post, served as a Professor, advised global leaders, and still had time to host parties and enjoy his summer house in Cape Cod. You might ask, how did he manage to do all that? He was clear on his values, message and purpose and admired for his consistent dedication.
Since then, I’ve spent years figuring out the magical formula for success and leadership. What do high performing CEOs, Nelson Mandela, and Richard Branson all have in common? They live with a purpose and are crystal clear on what they want.
10 things you can start doing today:
1) Determine your values. Ask yourself what truly matters to you. What energizes you the most? What do you converse or think about the most? What do you enjoy learning most about? Who inspires you?
2) Envision the values of those you want to serve–with your family, your customers, or your clients. Find a match between your values and strengths and those you serve at work or at home.
3) Set goals that are congruent to your values–set actionable, realistic but challenging goals that are aligned with what makes you happiest. Maya Angelou once said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
4) Prioritize what makes you happy. Stop trying to please others. Ensure that your values are authentic to you, and that you aren’t trying to live someone else’s life. What might be a great decision for someone else may not be great for you. Life is short, and the worst thing to do is to live with regret, or even worse, not knowing what it’s like to be to have lived out your potential.
5) Be mentally present–clear the clutter of yesterday and tomorrow. You can only control what is done now, everything else is a fallacy. It seems inevitable that work requires us to multi-task, being a parent requires us to multi-task and with so much technological stimulation available, it’s not uncommon to find people paying more attention to their phones at a restaurant than their company. We get what we focus on and attract what we think about. Focus on the things that matter and try to clear out the noise of fear, worry or the uncontrollable aspects of life. Listen more than you speak and pay attention to those you care about.
6) Spend time doing what matters most to you. Prioritize how you spend your time. Do what you do best and delegate the rest if you can.
7) Embrace every challenge as an opportunity. Reflect on your highest set of values and perceive it as information that serves as feedback. All information serves as feedback, there is no bad choice. Learn from your experience and become greater by it.
8) Take responsibility for your outcome. “Life will bring you pain all by itself. Your responsibility is to create joy” (Milton Erickson, M.D). We get what we choose to focus on. Focus on the problems and the pain or focus on the solution and your desired outcome. True leaders don’t blame others but take responsibility for the result and see it as feedback for improving the next time around.
9) Surround yourself with those who support your goals. It is said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Do the people you spend time with give you more energy or suck energy out of you? The more successful you become, the more criticism you’ll face including doubters, critics and the envious. Choose your network of confidants from your direct circle, social circle, to mentors that live the life you want, and who support you no matter what.
10) Go with the flow, sometimes the best things in life are not planned.