Articles of Interest

10 Things Extremely Successful People Do
Corey Schwartz

Everyone has their own definition of success. For some it is financial, for others it is a collection of all aspects of life. According to my personal definition of success, I have been truly blessed in my life to be surrounded by some extremely successful people. Nothing in this world is more inspiring to me than seeing people from similar backgrounds and situations absolutely flourishing in life. We all have that same potential. The difference is how we go about it. There are simple daily rituals that you can add to your life that can be the difference between existing and succeeding.

Morning Routines The first hour of your day dictates how the rest of the day will play out. If you wake up putting out fires, and reacting to stress, that basically sets the tone for the rest of the day. Having a morning routine that involves you collecting yourself and gearing up for the tasks of the day gives you the opportunity to be proactive instead of reactive. The less variation there is in your morning routine, the better – because as your mind goes into auto-pilot, your brain is clear to process other things. Your ability to put your brain into an auto-pilot mode can greatly improve your ability to start your day on your own terms.

Work Smart One essential part of your daily routine should be effective planning. Sometimes we feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done that we want to get done, but the reality is that we are trying to do too much. Taking a few minutes at the beginning of the day to assess your tasks, and plan them out. Stick to that plan, and you’ll begin to see that you can get more done in the same amount of time simply by planning out your day.

No Problems, only Challenges Things like complaining, making excuses, and whining are not on the list of daily routines of successful people for a reason: they don’t do anything. Instead, take the time to approach any problems that come up in life as a challenge. Strategize, plan, and act – that is how things get accomplished.

Act Now One routine of successful people is that they get things done. Some people make a routine of putting things off or avoiding having to address a situation, when successful people simply get it done. It is a routine in and of itself to be proactive and productive. A decent plan carried out today is better than a perfect plan carried out eventually.

Know your Limits, and Test Them Getting out of our comfort zones is one of the most productive things that we can do for ourselves. You never really know what you are capable of if you don’t try new things and test limits that you think exist. Successful people make a routine out of pushing their limits to see what they are truly capable of.

Listen to Intuition Wisdom comes from experience, which is the greatest teacher in life. When it comes to making a tough decision, relying on you intuition typically leads to making a better choice. That gut-feeling you have in life should never be ignored, because it your mind’s way of saying “hey, we’ve been here before – and this is how it worked out last time.”

Remain Positive Attitude determines the outcome of any situation. Attitude is also the only aspect of our lives that we have 100% control of. No matter what the world throws at you, staying positive can affect the outcome. Now, I’m not saying that you need to be naive, I am saying you need to be optimistically realistic. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it is completely possible.

Keep a Journal Keeping a journal is an excellent method of not only documenting successes and failures, but also give you a chance to vent frustrations and celebrate achievements in a way that is personal and effective. Some people might see that as passive aggressive, but in reality, what you are frustrated about right this second might not be frustrating a day from now. Reviewing your journals and finding patterns is also effective. Let’s say there is something that you achieved in the past, and you want to repeat that success, or there is something that has been bothering you for a while, and you need to make a decision.

Have a Mentor Successful people almost always have at least one person that they go to for advice, support, or ideas on a routine basis. the old adage that “two heads are better than one”, is universal. Whether it is a second opinion, a second set of eyes, or just a fresh perspective on an old problem – our mentors provide input into our lives that is only effective if we use it.

Accept Criticism All criticism is essentially constructive, if you take it correctly. I think the problem that people have is that they take criticism personally and get defensive. No matter how harsh someone can be when delivering criticism, if there is a real message to what they are saying, extrapolate it. If someone is just attacking you on a personal level, then they are a jerk, and not worth your time. Successful people can distinguish the two.

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Five Questions Every Mentor Must Ask
Anthony K Tjan, Harvard Business Review

These five questions, when asked in the order presented, form an effective diagnostic tool that can provide better guidance to mentees, employees, or generally anyone with whom you are playing the role of a counsellor. Additionally, they can serve as a self-diagnosis of one’s own capabilities and opportunities.

Here are the questions:
1. What is it that you really want to be and do?
2. What are you doing really well that is helping you get there?
3. What are you not doing well that is preventing you from getting there?
4. What will you do differently tomorrow to meet those challenges?
5. How can I help / where do you need the most help?

Let’s briefly look at each question:

What is it that you really want to be and do? This question is about aspiration and purpose. The reason why someone is doing what they are doing should come out here. The question is also meant to get at the business goals and broader aspirations of an individual – someone wishing to be successful in business so that they can do more to help others, for example. The answer to question one should surface the driving passion of individuals – what is it they do or wish they could be great at doing?

What are you doing really well that is helping you get there? This question helps spotlight a core strength and the person’s ability to execute towards his/her goal. What is someone naturally good at doing? Detailed and standardized operations? Leading and motivating staff? Numbers? What is it that someone does better than the average person that can help her achieve her aspiration?

What are you not doing well that is preventing you from getting there? This is about facilitating an honest and critical assessment of the roadblocks, challenges or weaknesses in a person or company that is slowing their ability to win the game; to meet the goal from question one.

What will you do different tomorrow to meet those challenges? Questions two and three help determine whether people are spending the right time on the right things. Progress cannot be measured just by hard work. Someone may have a great work ethic, but if he is not focused on the right priorities, then “you’re making good time, but you’re lost,” as another one of my partners likes to say. People also have a tendency to practice and repeat what they are already good at doing. It is human nature to show off your best side and hide weaknesses. As a kid playing racquet sports, I remember being asked once why I kept practising my forehand when my backhand sucked. Use this question to probe whether the person has the aptitude to change behaviour. Will the person practice start practising his backhand?

How can I help / where do you need the most help? The answers to the first four questions matched against areas where you as a mentor have particular strengths, relationships, or learning resources – should help determine how you can best help someone achieve the goal. These questions will help you assess where you can really help an individual or a company. Try these five critical questions the next time you are interviewing a mentee candidate, the next time you have a mentoring session, or answer them yourself as a self-diagnostic. The answers can help you or your mentees put together a sensible game plan for forward progress.

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Qualities That Make Great Bosses Unforgettable
Jeff Haden

I remember all of my bosses. Some were bad. Most were good. But only one was, in the best possible way, truly memorable. Unforgettable bosses possess qualities that may not show up on paper but always show up where it matters most -- in the minds and even hearts of the people they lead.

Here are some of the qualities of truly unforgettable bosses:

They believe the unbelievable
Most people try to achieve the achievable; that’s why most goals and targets are incremental rather than inconceivable. Memorable bosses expect more -- from themselves and from others. Then they show you how to get there. And they bring you along for what turns out to be an unbelievable ride.

They see opportunity in instability and uncertainty
Unexpected problems, unforeseen roadblocks, major crises... most bosses take down the sails, batten the hatches, and hope to wait out the storm. A few see a crisis as an opportunity. They know it’s extremely difficult to make major changes, even necessary ones, when things are going relatively smoothly.

They know reorganizing an entire sales team is accepted more easily when a major customer goes under. They know creating new sales channels is a lot easier when a major competitor enters the market. They know reorganizing manufacturing operations is a lot easier when the flow of supplies and components gets disrupted. Memorable bosses see instability and uncertainty not as a barrier but as an enabler. They reorganize, reshape, and re-engineer to reassure, motivate, and inspire -- and in the process make the organization much stronger.

They wear their emotions on their sleeves
Good bosses are professional. Memorable bosses are highly professional and yet also openly human. They show sincere excitement when things go well. They show sincere appreciation for hard work and extra effort. They show sincere disappointment -- not in others, but in themselves. They celebrate, they empathize; they worry. Sometimes they even get frustrated or angry. In short, they’re human. And, unlike many bosses, they act as if they know it. Professionalism is admirable. Professionalism -- with a healthy blend of humanity -- is inspiring.

They protect others from the bus
Terrible bosses throw their employees under the bus. Good bosses never throw their employees under the bus. Memorable bosses see the bus coming and pull their employees out of the way often without the employee knowing until much, much later... if ever, because memorable bosses never try to take credit. And if they can't, they take the hit. (And later speak privately to the employee in question.)

They’ve been there, done that... and still do that
Dues aren't paid, past tense. Dues get paid each and every day. The true measure of value is the tangible contribution we make on a daily basis. That’s why no matter what they may have accomplished in the past, memorable bosses are never too good to roll up their sleeves, and do the “dirty” work. No job is ever too menial, no task ever too unskilled or boring. Memorable bosses never feel entitled, which means no one feels entitled to anything but the fruits of their labour.

They lead by permission, not authority
Every boss has a title. That title gives them the right to direct others, to make decisions, to organize and instruct and discipline. Memorable bosses lead because their employees want them to lead. Their employees are motivated and inspired by the person, not the title. Through their words and actions they cause employees feel they work with, not for, a boss. Many bosses don’t even recognize there’s a difference... but memorable bosses do.

They embrace a larger purpose
A good boss works to achieve company goals. A memorable boss also works to achieve company goals -- and achieves more than other bosses -- but also works to serve a larger purpose: to advance the careers of employees, to rescue struggling employees, to instil a sense of pride and self-worth in others. They aren’t just remembered for nuts and bolts achievements but for helping others on a personal and individual level. Memorable bosses embrace a larger purpose, because they know business is always personal.

They take real, not fake risks
Many bosses, like many people, try to stand out in some superficial way. Maybe through their clothes, their interests, or a public display of support for a popular initiative. They do stand out but they stand out for reasons of sizzle, not steak. Memorable bosses stand out because they are willing to take an unpopular stand, take an unpopular step, accept the discomfort of ignoring the status quo, and risk sailing uncharted waters. They take real risks not for the sake of risk but for the sake of the reward they believe possible. And by their example they inspire others to take risks in order to achieve what they believe is possible. In short, memorable bosses inspire others to achieve their dreams: by words, by actions, and most importantly, by example.

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