- Have a big vision for your life and be willing to take massive action towards it: Most people are motivated by more than money. It could be the quality of your relationships, time, travel, service or whatever you choose. Your vision should be so clear that you are willing to hold to that vision so tight that your knuckles turn white. You will need to hold on tight to you vision to overcome initial resistance. Once you have a vision, it is time to make waves! Be willing to pull up our anchor and move your boats from the safe harbor. What happens when you hit the throttle in a boat that is at a dead stop? At first the boat struggles to get up out of the water. There is a great deal of resistance. It makes a lot of waves. The other boats in the harbor at anchor may call out to you to stop making waves. There may be people in your life that feel you are off course and encourage you to ‘stop making waves.” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “To be great is to be misunderstood.” If you strive for great goals, you must risk rejection from peers, and be confident enough to understand that not everyone will share your vision.
- Be teachable and teach others: Take responsibility for your development. Many people who fail to achieve their potential have excuses. They truly believe their excuses which absolves them of responsibility. These beliefs keeps them stuck. Imagine two concert pianists. One is wearing overalls and bare feet. He walks to piano on the stage of a beautiful concert hall that is full of people anticipating a great show. The pianist begins to pound on the piano making a cacophonous noise! The audience boos and even begins to throw vegetables! The pianist ignores them, finishes, gets up and calmly walks off the stage to the green room. The second pianist is dressed in a tuxedo and tails. He sits down to the piano and begins to play Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto. The audience is mesmerized by the performance. When he finishes they give him a standing ovation! He bows and leaves the stage. In the green room he sees the other pianist. He says to the first pianist: “I don’t mean to be rude, I would like to know how you feel about being booed off the stage?” The first pianist responds: “I don’t take it personally; the piano was out of tune.” We all have the same opportunity to achieve, why do some consistently perform better than others and some stay stuck given the same piano? It is a choice.We must take time to work on our abilities. Learning and growing takes commitment. Read books, attend classes, have a mentor or coach. Teach others what you learn: By teaching others you become a greater expert. As you learn new principles think about how you can share your knowledge with others in your life. When you do this, it causes you to learn the material at a higher level. I know that if I am responsible to teach others, my study and preparation are much higher which ultimately benefits me.Another benefit of teaching what you learn is that you create an environment where others look to you for leadership and hold you accountable for your professed beliefs which help you achieve your goals.
- Be willing to fail: Failure is not the enemy of success. It is a teacher. Abraham Lincoln’s path to the presidency taught him many lessons that helped make him one of the greatest leaders in our history. He failed in business in 1831, was defeated for legislature in 1832. Second failure in business in 1833. Suffered a nervous breakdown in 1836. Defeated for Speaker in 1838. Defeated for Elector in 1840. Defeated for Congress in 1843 and 1848. Defeated for Senate in 1855. Defeated for Vice President 1856. Defeated for Senate in 1858. Elected President in 1860. The formula for success: Double your failure rate. Learn to love the “no’s” get through them so you can get to the yeses!
- Focus on what is important: There are so many distractions and time parasites that will keep us from our goals. In many organizations, employees get into the office around 8:30AM. They get a cup of coffee and greet their co-workers regaling them with stories of the night or weekend. When they get to their desk, check email and waste time on the internet it is 11:00AM before real work begins. The rest of the day people play catch-up and they have to stay at the office until 7:00PM or later. Working longer hours does not mean you are working harder. Activity should not be confused with productivity. In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country; he observed that twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth. His observations have come to be known as the 80/20 rule. You can apply the 80/20 Rule to almost anything, from the science of management to the physical world. Twenty percent of your staff will cause eighty percent of your problems, but another twenty percent of your staff will provide eighty percent of your production. It works both ways.Of the things you do during your day, only twenty percent really matter. Those twenty percent produce eighty percent of your results. Identify and focus on those things. When the fire drills of the day begin to sap your time, remind yourself of the twenty percent you need to focus on. If something in the schedule has to slip, if something isn’t going to get done, make sure it’s not part of that twenty percent. Pareto’s Principle, the 80/20 Rule, should serve as a daily reminder to focus eighty percent of your time and energy on the twenty percent of your work that is really important. Don’t just “work smart”, work smart on the right things.
- Do what you fear: Look for opportunities to get out of your comfort zone. Your mind is very much like a muscle that must be exercised to grow and change. Think of when you first started physical training. How did the first mile you ran feel? Recently, I started a new exercise regimen. I started running with my daughter. The first time out we jogged a few hundred feet and I began to gasp for air. Luckily she was wearing her IPod and couldn’t hear my heavy breathing, which would have been embarrassing to my ego. As I labored on, my body screamed to me to quit. I had to trick myself to keep going and make it to the next light pole and then another and another. Finally, I had run 1.5 miles. My legs hurt, my heart was pounding. However, the next time I did it, it wasn’t so bad. I did it again and again. Soon I ran faster and farther. What happened? My body began to react to strain and stress. As we exercise, our bodies develop new blood vessels, our hearts ability to pump blood to our muscles increases, our lung capacity increases. Our muscles grow and strengthen allowing us to increase the stress and strain we are able to bear. Our brains work very much the same way. The first time we do something that we may be afraid of like speaking up, sharing our opinion, speaking in public, learning a new job, our brains may scream for us to stop! However, as we persist, pretty soon, we develop new neural pathways that allow us to be more and more comfortable in new environments and opportunities. Pretty soon, our capacity to perform the new job is increased and we are able to do more and more.The opposite is also true. If we do not exercise our bodies and our minds, soon they begin to atrophy and our capacities diminish. If we waste our lives in front of the TV, soon we will not be able to lift the remote to change the channel. Author John R. Noe suggests: “Sit down and make a list of all the things you are afraid to do, within legal, moral and spiritual limits. Then go out and deliberately make yourself do every one of them. Each time you confront a fear, become sensitive to the atmosphere surrounding it…then fear will no longer control your life.
To achieve your dreams it is time to leave your complacency and act. It requires you to leave your comfort zones, take responsibility for developing your abilities and share your knowledge with others. It means risking failure and ignoring the naysayers.