I’ve long believed that success is incremental rather than something that happens all at once. It’s the little things that take place every day that make the difference.
Month: June 2011
Most of our barriers to success are self-imposed. We are all capable of accomplishing much more than we think we can in life. There are countless examples of ordinary people achieving extraordinary results through sheer grit, determination and self-belief to allay our own anxieties and give us hope.
While energy and competency levels may vary by person, there are also only so many hours in a day and limitations on what can get done in that amount of time. You may be able to “burn the candle at both ends” or go without much sleep for some period of time but eventually it will catch up with you and manifest itself through increased stress and health issues. Unless you are lazy, working harder is rarely the long term solution. Utilizing effective time management strategies allows you to work smarter and not get completely sidetracked by the inevitable distractions in life.
What defines a life is how we deal with the unexpected. Adversity and challenge will rise up and confront us all, sometimes when we LEAST expect it. We will feel that we did everything right and still things didn’t work out. What then? Bad things do happen to good people.
Choosing to seek and have fun is a conscious choice. Rarely does it just happen. We all have moments of spontaneous joy we can remember, but this is the exception not the rule. I encourage you to make having fun a filter in your daily, weekly and monthly activities.
It all starts at the top. Whether you are a politician, government official, leading hedge fund executive, Wall Street banker, corporate CEO, small business owner, college president, sports coach, professional athlete, teacher, parent, etc., your actions do matter! Strong Ethics aren’t a luxury but a requirement of any well run business, organization, community, classroom and family. Behaviors do ultimately have consequences. And, even though you may win in the short term by always putting your needs first, not playing by the rules or stretching the boundaries of what’s acceptable, ultimately it will catch up with you and sadly have adverse consequences for others in your life.
I often get asked for a checklist of management improvement ideas. While the following list isn’t exhaustive, I believe it is a good start for anyone who would like to audit their existing business situation:
Most of our limitations in life are self-imposed. The history of mankind is the story of individuals stretching the boundaries of what’s possible. Many things we take for granted today were deemed impossible not too long ago. What’s required is an individual or group of people who are unwilling to accept the status quo. In essence, they believe there is a better or different way to do something. The motivations may vary widely, but the common thread is a pioneering spirit and willingness to think bigger and challenge conventional wisdom.
On a much smaller scale, most people box themselves in every day and limit their potential. Instead of pursuing their dream or passions, they narrowly define what’s possible. Unfortunately, the longer you accept your constrained reality the easier it becomes to rationalize why things didn’t go as planned. As a result, you end up lowering the bar of happiness and success in your own life which is the opposite of what you should be doing. Henry David Thoreau captured this mindset perfectly when he wrote “most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
Wouldn’t it be better to “sing” while you are still alive? I encourage you to expand your definitions of what’s possible in your own life both personally and professionally. Take on new risks and challenges. Follow your passions and embrace your talents. Be a force for good and a catalyst for inspiration. The world will go on changing with or without you. Why not enjoy the ride and be part of the positive momentum.
There is a fundamental difference between a good work and fiction and our own stories. We are the authors. There is no more subjective experience than living one’s own life. To a large extent, we get to decide how it all turns out. It may be cliché to state the obvious; however, it is not what happens to you, but how you respond to it that matters.
There are few things more important than having priorities for what’s important in your life and how you choose to spend your time. We are all the architects of our own existence, at times struggling with the design challenges, however ultimately the adult life we build is our own. Happiness is a choice not just an outcome. It should also be an expectation.
Sometimes in the smallest ways we impact other people. Less frequently but more powerfully are those actions that over time have a significant impact on others.
Everyone likes to be acknowledged and appreciated. It’s basic human nature. Hard work, determination and skill should be recognized. It’s been proven by many studies that top performers in all walks of life like it when you keep score. It’s no so much to feed their ego but more about being transparent about results and progress. You can only move the bar if you know where it already exists. Moreover, our innate competitive nature likes to know how we are doing vis-à-vis our peers and colleagues.
The speed of business has increased dramatically these days. Markets no longer carry the complacent. In this environment, leaders must operate under a 5-7 year arc and then they need to completely reinvent themselves and their companies. If there is some game changing event or circumstance, the pace of this change may even need to accelerate.
As we commence a new work week it worth reflecting on the idea that tomorrow is another day. Whatever happened last week is gone. Hopefully you had a nice weekend with ample opportunity to relax and recharge. Monday starts the week anew. We get a chance to start over and have a good week (or not). What we do know is that regardless of what happens we will be in this same position seven days from now. In fact, on Tuesday we get to improve upon Monday and so it goes all week long.
I’ve always believed that a life is defined by the quality of your relationships. Whether it is at work or home, all of us should be looking to grow friendships and supporters along the way. The road can get rocky at times and you want to have others there to catch you if and when you stumble or fall. You’ll also need their helping hands and shoulders to stabilize you as you climb the next rung up the ladder.
When I was a young boy my mother used to say to me when I was angry (which wasn’t very often) to count to ten before saying or doing anything. There mere fact of pausing before you act or say something out of spite is quite a useful tool. Sometimes we just want to respond or act immediately to what’s been said or done to us without thinking first. Our first instinct is to fight back or lash out. Unless you are in physical danger this is often a bad idea.
Everyone needs down time. Even extreme extroverts must recharge every once in awhile. It’s too much work to be on all the time. It is also not healthy to be constantly over stimulated. There is no shortage of options on how you spend your time especially if you have a job with any real responsibility and/or have children. However, I urge you to force yourself to find some quiet time with minimal distractions to give your brain a rest and allow it to focus on fewer things.
In the course of a given day the average person has interactions with dozens of people (if not more). Many times these are only brief encounters with very little substance involved in the dialogue. It’s easy to not pay attention to how you’re coming across and/or make the extra efforts of being polite and courteous. However, life is built on these small conversations. You are either gaining allies/ friends or not. And, you never know when you’ll need a helping hand or advocate.
Business is not war. As business leaders we aren’t engaged in a life or death struggle that requires us to win at all costs. We do a disservice to our fellow citizens who are actually engaged in multiple military conflicts to speak or think in this manner. Failure may be painful but it isn’t fatal for us or for our employees. What matters is that we do our best regardless of the circumstances and hold on to our integrity. Our competitors aren’t the enemy, but instead are other companies that exist to keep us honest and force us to keep delivering value to our customers and make wise financial decisions.
Take stock of the people you are spending the most time with personally and professionally and make a conscious choice to maximize the time spent with the brightest, happiest and most capable people you know.
Change is a fact of life. Everything changes. People change. Circumstances change. How much change have you seen in your own life? My father who is now 82 once walked me through the changes he had seen in his lifetime and it was startling. The world as he knew it as a child no longer exists. Some changes are good others aren’t so good, but they will happen nonetheless.