Have you ever wondered why some people achieve great things in life and others stay stuck with little growth?
About thirteen years ago I grew curious about this. My late husband had left a company he'd founded years earlier and sold controlling shares to and began another one just like it, essentially going into competition with ourselves and partners.
He was to be the CEO of the new, larger company. He worked for several years building it but as fate would have it, it didn't work out and another one, solely owned, was formed and put in place. Still, the experience raised questions for me.
What does it take to become a CEO? What personal traits? What kind of training? Are these things you learn at university? You certainly need a big name education to snag such a position and Jim had that and an impressive curriculum vitae.
But I didn't have it and as I said, I was curious.
We were away on a business trip. I was poking through a book store and found a title that caught my eye. I took some teasing but bought it none the less. It was called "Coach Yourself to Success: 101 Tips from a Personal Coach for Reaching Your Goals at Work and in Life" by Talane Miedaner.
The book was broken down into ten sections and within each section was a stand alone chapter, allowing you to read a chapter at a time and move at your own pace.
I loved the book enough to call Talane and request private coaching sessions. It began with a series of written tests and exercises as well as what Talane calls The Clean Sweep.
The Clean Sweep exercise requires that you write down every thing in your life that's bothering you from, as Talane puts it, a hole in your robe, to crooked teeth, to not enough time for recreation, to an abusive client.
Each of these things are called "toleration's" and you are to address them, one by one until you've taken care of all that are solvable. Some can't be immediately solved because of circumstances beyond your control but solving the ones within your power gives you a huge energy boost.
Soon after reading Talane's book, I found another book called The Power of Focus by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Lew Hewitt.
The Power of Focus master plan breaks down your life into seven areas: financial, career/education, fun time, health/fitness, relationships, personal, and contribution.
For my family and I the number one priority has always been health and fitness. Financial, career/education, and relationships vie for second place. And fun time, personal and contribution are in third place. In the book there's a chart that has space to write down specific goals pertaining to each area as well as the reason for accomplishing the goal, a deadline, and other necessary specifics associated with that goal.
What the books and coaching sessions did for me was to develop the practices that help you communicate better, have better clarity, set excellent standards for yourself, achieve balance, set and meet goals, and more.
As it says on the back of the book, "The number one thing that stops people from getting what they want is lack of focus". The book helps you decide what you want, then shows you how to achieve it. The benefits are better pay, better relationships, self-discipline, more free time to do the things you enjoy, better self esteem, better use of time, and even better health.
I see people struggle in their personal and professional lives and I know it's because they often don't believe in themselves; they don't know what they want; they don't realize they can make changes; and they haven't pursued the information they need to obtain what they want in life.
Here are some tips I've gleaned over dozens of books since reading those first two influential books:
1- Know what you want.
Clarity is key in achieving the life you want to lead. What is important to you? What do you see in others that you'd like to have for yourself? Is it better health? A better paying job? Being your own boss? Decide want you want and set the goal, record it, date it, write action steps, set the deadlines, then follow through.
2-Time in book stores is time invested in you.
At least once a month treat yourself to a visit to your local bookstore. Pick up half a dozen titles about your top three goals, find a chair, and peruse the table of contents. Then skim through the book for ten minutes per book. Plan to spend an hour or two. Purchase one or two books a month. This will build your library and will be an excellent investment in yourself. I love all business related books, particularly those on marketing and sales as well as nutritional books.
3-Your daily habits dictate your overall lifestyle.
If you eat right and exercise daily, you will reap the benefits of beautiful skin and a fit physique. If you save 10 to 20% of your net monthly income you will build up a savings account for emergencies or special treats like vacations, clothes or a better car. If you set a goal with specific details and chink away at it on a daily basis, eventually you will achieve it. If you take time with your family and friends, giving of yourself wholeheartedly, you build a community for yourself. If you do the right thing by others on a daily basis, you will gain the respect of the people in your business and personal circles. It's all right there in your daily priorities. You are your daily habits.
4- Break bad habits.
I've read that a good habit takes eight weeks to form and a bad habit takes twelve weeks to break. Bad habits are like a monkey on your back, depleting you of energy and self esteem and damaging your personal and business relationships.
The easiest way to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. Whatever your bad habit, you have to decide you are worth giving it up. If food is a weakness for you (as it is for so many of us) decide you are worthy of a lifestyle change. Go on a plant based diet and see the huge benefits it has on your health and appearance. Don't even consider failure. By the way, this is where a powerful tool called "visualization" comes in. Visualize yourself with a fit body as you're exercising. Visualize yourself with beautiful skin as you eat your salad. It takes a little practice but keep trying and don't feel silly about it!
5- Make a to do list.
Some people disagree with this but I love to-do lists. I use them interchangeably to set goals and get things accomplished on a timely basis. I have a weekly list, a daily list, and an annual list. I don't always stick to my lists but I do my best. If it's something that absolutely has to be done, I do it if it's on the list.
6- Do the hardest tasks first.
By doing the hardest tasks first each morning, you save the biggest portion of your energy for the hardest jobs of the day. This in turn leaves you free and energized to do the easier things later in the day when your energy is lower. It also ensures you get the most important things done before the day slips away from you.
7- Plan your day first thing in the morning.
Every morning with your coffee adopt this habit. Sit down in your robe, in your comfortable chair, and decide what is most important about today. Write it down. Then fill in the rest of the day with less important tasks. I've been doing this for years and it's helped me achieve a lot personally and professionally. It could be your daily food menu, or making important contact with a client or colleagues. By planning your day on paper you have a visual of what your day will look like. It helps keep you focused on the important things.
8- Baby steps.
If a task is hard, take a small bite out of it, set it aside for a bit to work on something easier, then come back and take another bite. I call this productive procrastination. You can use this for everything from paperwork (such as estimating or writing letters) to housework (such as piled up laundry or dishes).
9- Mentor me.
I've read from numerous sources about the growing importance of having a mentor. A mentor is someone who has experienced success in your industry and can help you foresee road blocks, instill time savers, and connect you with other important people in your industry. Many business advisers are saying that our connections will be the key to success in the future, especially in regards to the new economy.
Unless you or your family know someone personally, you'll need to be bold and ask. You will more than likely experience a bit of rejection so be prepared to make a lot of requests. One word of advice is to be careful accepting mentoring from the opposite sex. I recommend females mentoring females.
Great achievement requires great, big steps. In order to get ahead you will have to take some risks. The key is to calculate the risks first. Ask yourself where your comfort level lies. How much can you afford to lose? What are the risks? Can you control the risks by taking certain precautions? Sometimes the only risk is being told no. In that case, you've nothing to lose at all. Ask and ask often. You will hear a lot of no's before you hear a yes.
|Shiree Hanson Segerstrom, interior designer, blogger, |
entrepreneur, and newspaper columnist.
Author and professional coach Anthony Robbins has often been quoted as saying he's fascinated by what drives people to achieve beyond their given circumstances in life. Reading those first two books were the initial steps for me. We are all works in progress, some of us on different rungs of the ladder of life. At the highest rung we are contributing, giving back, and helping others. At the lowest rung we are needy, low on Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs, and needing help rather than giving it. Most of us are somewhere in between.
Knowing where you are in the grander scheme of things is the first step toward becoming the best, most well rounded person you can be. Once you realize you have room for growth (and we almost always do) you can begin your life long journey as student and achiever.