Oh, you’re busy? Weird, I thought it was just me.
No matter where you are in life at this moment, there is at least one thing that you and I have in common: We want to improve our lives and ourselves. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with us, but as human beings we’re born with a desire to continuously grow and improve. I believe it’s within all of us. Yet most people wake up each day and life pretty much stays the same.
If success and fulfillment were measured on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s safe to say that everyone would want to live every aspect of their lives at a Level 10.
Here’s the catch: To create the Level 10 life that you ultimately want, you must first dedicate time each day to becoming a Level 10 person who is capable of creating and sustaining that level of success.
But who has time for that, right? Luckily, there is a method to do it in as little as six minutes a day.
Enter the life SAVERS, a sequence that combines the six most effective personal development practices known to man. While someone could invest hours on these practices, it only takes one minute for each — or six minutes total — to see extraordinary results.
Just imagine if the first six minutes of every morning began like this:
Instead of hitting the snooze button, and then rushing through your day feeling stressed and overwhelmed, invest your first minute in sitting in purposeful silence. Sit quietly, calm and peaceful and breathe deeply. Maybe you meditate. Center yourself and create an optimum state of mind that will lead you effectively through the rest of your day.
Maybe you say a prayer of gratitude and appreciate the moment. As you sit in silence, you quiet your mind, relax your body and allow your stress to melt away. You develop a deeper sense of clarity, purpose, and direction.
Pull out and read your page of affirmations — written statements that remind you of your unlimited potential, your most important goals and the actions you must take today to achieve them. Reading over reminders of how capable you really are motivates you. Looking over which actions you must take, re-energizes you to focus on doing what’s necessary today to takeyour life to the next level.
Close your eyes and visualize what it will look like and feel like when you reach your goals. Seeing your ideal vision increases your belief that it’s possible and your desire to make it a reality.
Stand up and move your body for 60 seconds, long enough to increase the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain. You could easily do a minute of jumping jacks, push-ups, or sit-ups. The point is that you raise your heart rate, generate energy and increase your ability to be alert and focused.
Grab the self-help book you’re currently reading and read one page, maybe two. Learn a new idea, something you can incorporate into your day, which will improve your results at work or in your relationships. Discover something new that you can use to think better, feel better and live better.
Pull out your journal and take one minute to write down something you’re grateful for, something you’re proud of and the top one to three results that you’re committed to creating that day. In doing so, you create the clarity and motivation that you need to take action.
How would you feel if that’s how you used the first six minutes of each day? How would the quality of your day — and your life — improve? We can all agree that investing a minimum of six minutes into becoming the person that we need to be to create the lives we truly want is not only reasonable. It’s an absolute must.
f you could have any skill of a superhero, which would you choose? The ability to fly or leap across tall buildings in a single bound perhaps?
I would choose the power to never need sleep though this is not a flashy choice. This would mean an end to my constant wish for more hours in the day.
Needless to say, my superpower has yet to unlock itself. Until then, here are four scheduling tips I use to help me get the most from my waking hours:
Many years ago I heard the phrase “If I erase, I must replace” and it’s still a mantra I live and work by today. It serves as a reminder to be flexible, yet accountable.
Your schedule should not be so rigid that you can never tweak it. But if an event was important enough to include initially, set aside time for it later in the day or week.
Rescheduling an event (a meeting, a conference call or independent work time) allows for the flexibility that a busy life demands while ensuring that important tasks don’t fall by the wayside.
To use a calendar strategically, schedule important tasks first and let the less-demanding ones land where they may.
Every time you refine your calendar, you’re resetting priorities (an important duty).
Appointments should not merely exist on your calendar because they have been auto-scheduled to repeat every week for five months.
Instead, set up each event with intent and only if it’s of great importance right now.
Professionals sometimes accidentally overbook their schedules, forcing them to sprint from one meeting to the next all day.
To avoid this, include time between events to review your last appointment and prepare for the next. If you don’t, the nonstop rushing is bound to catch up with you.
The best way to ensure having enough time between tasks is to block out the necessary interludes on your calendar.
Workaholics might find it all too easy to get trapped in the constant whirl of activity. This is a recipe for burnout.
I believe in not only taking a break but also scheduling time for one during the workday. For instance, I take a daily break to get outside the office and exercise.
If a midday visit to the gym isn’t realistic for you, take a walk or at least step away from your desk during lunch. Take time to sharpen the ax!
When you’re starting a business, it is rare that you’ll ever feel sure about your actions. In fact, many times you’ll make a decision feeling absolutely clueless. One of the benefits of entrepreneurship is that while no two companies are the same, many go through similar problems. This is true regardless of the industry or size of the market you’re in. Because of this, there are certain fundamental mistakes that every business owner should look out for.
When you’re starting out, it’s easy to get overly excited when someone wants to join your company. Yet many entrepreneurs overlook the costs of hiring too fast. This is most common when you come across a resume from an Ivy League school or someone with tons of experience. But just because they come from a great background, doesn’t mean they are necessarily great for your company.
Before pulling the trigger when you see great credentials, take time to make sure the person is also a cultural fit. Is this someone you could go on a five-hour road trip with and not want to pull your hair out? Remember, the person you’re bringing on board is going to be a part of the company for a long time. Don’t take the situation too lightly by just hiring off what’s on paper.
One of the difficult parts about being an entrepreneur is forcing yourself to look at things outside of the numbers. Although being able to land customers is essential, in the early stages you need to take time to find out the value you can provide.
Being a smooth talker to land clients without first validating your business model is a recipe for disaster. We see this all the time with companies who raise huge rounds of funding then somehow fail. Why do so many of these startups shut down despite all the capital they’ve raised? Because they didn’t take time to prove their business model before trying to scale it.
When you start your own company, you usually get an inflated title like CEO. But many entrepreneurs forget that although their title is CEO, they’re starting from ground zero. And even in established companies, the CEO is still employed by her customers. Too many entrepreneurs forget this, failing under what I like to call the “Steve Jobs” syndrome: Caught up in beliefs that they can predict the future, founders push their vision and ignore their customers. Even with movements like “The Lean Startup,” there are still a great number of startups that don’t get feedback from buyers. The main reason for this is that it takes time and a small ego to listen to your customers. You have to willing to admit you’re wrong, and treat your company like a science experiment. Always remember that it’s the customer not you that is the visionary of your company.
A lot of companies have a great product and team but fail to execute. Often, this is caused by a fear of failure. A true entrepreneur is not one who knows all the answers, instead they are the ones who will launch a rocket ship and paint it on the way up. You should never try to rush a decision but there are times when you just need to go with your gut. When it’s one of those times, make the decision, live with the consequences and move on. Failure is just part of the road to success.
It’s hard to think differently and be able to dream new dreams. We’d all like to be visionary thinkers like Bezos, Buffett, and Branson (the Three B’s of Bold Thinking) and achieve great things.
But most of us aren’t bold visionaries. (I’m definitely not.)
And that’s OK, because while you and I might never come up with the next big thing, we can decide to think differently from other people–and in the process, achieve differently from other people.
Here are five things people think that ruin their chances for success… and more importantly how you can think differently:
Hey, join the (very large) club. No matter how it looks from the outside, no one is given opportunities they don’t deserve. Opportunities are earned. (And even if someone else did get an opportunity you feel you deserved, you can’t change that fact, so why dwell on it?)
Maybe, years ago, you did have to wait: To be accepted, to be promoted, to be selected… to somehow be “discovered.”
Even if that was once, true it’s not true anymore. Access to opportunity is nearly unlimited. You can connect with nearly anyone through social media. You can create and sell your own products, develop and distribute your own applications, find your own funding….
You don’t need to wait for someone else to give you the opportunity. You can give yourself the opportunity–which, by the way, is what successful people have done for centuries.
The only thing holding you back from seizing an opportunity is you–and your willingness to try.
Don’t think about opportunities you need to be given; think about opportunities you need to take.
Maybe someone else has ruined opportunities or blocked ideas or taken what was rightfully yours. Maybe suppliers didn’t come through. Maybe your partner wasn’t committed. Maybe potential customers weren’t smart enough to recognize the value you provide.
Doesn’t matter. You can’t control other people. You can only control yourself.
When you fail, always decide it was your fault. Not only is that a smart way to think, but it’s also almost always true as well. While occasionally something completely outside your control will cause you to fail, most of the time it really is you.
And that’s OK. Every successful person has failed numerous times. Most have failed a lot more often than you have; that’s one reason why they’re so successful today.
Embrace every failure. Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time you’ll do what it takes to make sure things turn out differently.
Never think it’s another person’s fault; when you do, you’re guaranteeing it always will be.
Sure you do. You have the same amount of time as everyone else. The key is to decide how you will fill your time.
For example, anyone can create a schedule. But most people don’t ensure that every task takes only as long as it needs to take. Most people fill a block of time, either given or self-determined, simply because that is the time allotted.
Don’t adjust your effort so it fills a time frame. Instead, do everything as quickly and effectively as you can. Then use your “free” time to get other things done…just as quickly and effectively.
Never think about how time controls you–instead, think of how you can best control your time.
When you do, you’ll quickly realize you have a lot more time than you think.
Ever heard someone say, “If I knew I would get a raise, then I would be willing to work a lot harder”? Or, “If I knew my start-up would succeed, then I would definitely be willing to put in more hours”? Or, “If I knew there would be a bigger payoff, then I would be willing to sacrifice more”?
Successful employees earn promotions and higher pay by first working harder; in other words, they earn their success. Successful businesses earn higher revenue by delivering greater value first; they earn their success.
Successful people, in all areas of life, earn bigger “payoffs” by working incredibly hard well before any potential return is in sight; they earn their success through effort and sacrifice.
Most people expect to get more before they will ever consider doing more.
To succeed, think of compensation not as the driver or requirement for exceptional effort, but as the deserved reward.
It’s easy, and tempting, to assume successful people have some intangible entrepreneurial something–ideas, talent, drive, skills, creativity, etc.–that you simply don’t have.
That’s rarely true. Talents typically reveal themselves only in hindsight. Success is never assured; it only looks that way after it is achieved.
Sure, other people may have skills you don’t have (at least not yet), but you have skills other people don’t have. You don’t need a gift. You just need yourself–and a willingness to put in a tremendous amount of hard work, effort, and perseverance–because that is where talent comes from.
Never think about what you don’t have. Focus on what you do have–and more importantly, what you are willing to do that others are not.
That is your true gift–and it’s a gift we’ve all been given.
You just have to use it.
The most successful people achieve extraordinary things by looking at the world differently than most people. Paula Long would know. Before becoming CEO of data management company DataGravity, she sold her last company, EqualLogic, to Dell for $1.4 billion. Here’s her take on the thought lives of the most successful leaders.
Long says you would never know if she was insecure and guessing–swirling 25 scenarios in her head about how something will progress–because she consistently speaks to the ideal outcome. “So it’s be honest, but filter and show the direction,” she says. “That gives people a sense of certainty which I think everybody around you needs, including you.”
It’s thinking about life as a chess game based upon possible outcomes. “So if this happens I’m going to do this, but if this happens I’m going to do that,” she says. “You’ve already thought it through.”
It’s a way of holding people accountable for their performance versus basing relationships with team members on friendship. “If you hired a painter and they didn’t show up or didn’t finish the painting the rooms in five days, you’d probably fire them, right?” she says. It’s not to say you can’t be friends with co-workers, but it shouldn’t lead you to cover for them if they’re not performing well.
In other words, good enough is not good enough. Could you have done better? “They’re always trying to figure out how to optimize the optimized, which can drive people nuts,” she says. “Because is anything ever good enough? No. It sounds bad, but it just means we have to keep growing.”
It means hiring for culture and fit–not just skills–so you end up with a cohesive team. “You can lose a lot of emotional energy which sucks away intellectual energy,” she says. “And that’s a really easy thing to have happen to you.”
“Successful leaders let people know in subtle ways that they know what’s going on,” she says. Within a day it might mean asking an engineer about a project or sending a note to someone in marketing who just wrote an excellent blog. “That gets harder as companies gets bigger, but for small companies showing that kind of personal interest and kind of encouragement is important.”
High achievers tend to overwork, particularly in a startup where a leader can be obsessed with getting off the ground and growing. The key, however, is not expecting everyone to work weekends just because it’s something you want to do. If you’re not careful, people will burn out, or worse. “I’ve been in a couple of startups where people would claim they got divorced because of work,” she says. “That means everybody around them failed, too, because they didn’t figure out how to get the balance right.”
Unlike best-selling author Robert Kiyosaki, most people didn’t have a “rich dad” mentor while growing up. For instance, I came from a working-class family, so my exposure to successful business leaders was limited. But looking back, I can identify five groups of people that shaped the businessman I became–family members, friends, TV characters, teachers, and authors.
These people weren’t my mentors by design, but without them, I would’ve missed out on lessons about toughness, honesty, and ingenuity. And more importantly, I wouldn’t be the leader I am today. Great mentors can take on many roles, but here are the five key insights my mentors taught me:
1. Be tenacious. There is a connection between physical and mental labor. I learned that from splitting wood and baling hay with my father. The toughness and discipline required to finish a physical task can also be used to tackle mental challenges, such as pushing through an off-kilter project.
Look at the people in your life who’ve overcome great physical challenges. Did they throw up their hands and quit? Of course not! Instead, they worked hard and pressed on. Learning this tenacity has helped me push through failures, and it can do the same for you.
2. Seek out honest friendships. The concept of friendship has changed a lot lately, but when I think about my friends, I don’t think of my Twitter followers. I picture the people with whom I share an authentic connection.
Your friends can (and should) influence your life. Focus on the friends who actively listen. They’ll talk about what’s really going on and help you jump some of life’s hurdles along the way.
3. Learn to solve problems. I grew up watching re-runs of TV programs featuring characters such as Andy Griffith, Charles Ingalls, and Ben Cartwright. The characters taught me a great deal, and I watch their shows today with my kids.
As a leader, you have to face difficult challenges. If you work hard to overcome them, then there’s always a lesson to learn. Even though it might sound a bit silly, don’t discount the challenges faced by your favorite fictional characters. The lessons they’ve learned might apply to your life as well.
4. Become fully engaged. Some of the minor tweaks my teachers made during my early years continue to affect how I learn today. For example, one teacher recognized that I had trouble learning in a lecture setting. She decided to change things up for my benefit and would occasionally open up classroom-wide conversations after lectures. My teacher taught me that new information could be fun when I learned it in a way that suited my needs.
I still enjoy learning by diving into projects that will force me to learn the subject matter better. Look back and see how you learned most effectively growing up. Revisit those methods to see your comprehension improve.
5. Absorb knowledge through books. I didn’t have access to business leaders in the beginning of my career, so I turned to books. If you ask me which business book will put you on the path to success, I’d say you’re missing the point of reading.
John Donahoe, president of eBay, has said, “Pursuing a full life and pursuing balance is a journey and not a destination.” I think the same is true of reading. There’s no book that contains the secret to success. If you read a wide range of topics, you’ll find valuable nuggets of wisdom during your journey.
You can’t rely on my mentors–I’ve only been able to identify them through self-reflection, after all. You must seek out your own. Don’t let your influencers just happen. Be the architect, and line them up to help you achieve your idea of success.