Take Time to Reflect
We have all made mistakes in our pasts, and if you’re like me, it was recent enough to remember the taste. We can make mistakes out of pure ignorance or by attempting to conquer new challenges. There are time when screwing up is just a risk we have to accept if we want to succeed. But, if you’ve tried enough times, you’ve likely enjoyed a few successes along the way as well. Each one of these moments, the ones of regret and the ones of rejoicing, are necessary in our quest of continual growth. They each can offer us nuggets of wisdom. But, what they have to offer can only be of benefit if we take the time to reflect upon the experience, soak it in and learn from it.
Below are 5 benefits of taking the time to reflect on your experiences.
- It allows us a chance to evaluate where we are against where we want to be: Giving ourselves an honest evaluation of our own progress is one of the most efficient ways to make the changes necessary to continue growing as leaders.
- It provides a moment to hit “pause” and make sure that where we think we want to go is where we need to go: Sometimes during the rush of everyday life and chasing success we don’t stop to make sure that the prize we’re chasing is truly one that we should win.
- It allows us to make sure we have our priorities in order: By reflecting on what has happened in our past and how it has affected those around us we can evaluate if we are holding true to our priorities, and if not, it gives us a chance to reorganize. This holds true for our daily tasks at work as well as our personal lives
- Replaying our yesterdays better equips us for our tomorrows: As we successfully navigate different scenarios in life we should mentally and manually record those choices that proved successful and have them at our disposal to better take advantage of the opportunities of tomorrow.
- It gives us the courage to be better: By not sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that nothing happened, we become stronger people. We learn to face our fears and become proactive in planning our own future.
If we all start the habit of reflecting on our daily decisions it can prove to make us more effective leaders and simply more effective people. As you review your daily decisions you will surely find certain mistakes rearing their ugly head on a regular basis. All of us need help with certain things in our careers. Reach out to someone you trust and respect to ask for help.
“What was good enough to get you here, may not be good enough to get you where you’re going!”
Let’s learn something new each and every day.
Once again I’m staring into the distance as if nothing could be important enough to catch my attention. Another business trip and another morning of viewing the world through the looking glass of a window seat. Reflective vests and blinking lights will soon be overpowered by the breaking of the dawn. If you fly regularly at all, this is a common experience, and more than likely you zone out like I do during preflight check and the safety announcements they give at the beginning of the flight. Normally I would have my earphones in and a book open. For some reason this morning was different. I was actually paying attention and as they started directing us on how to use our oxygen masks if they are needed. Like always the steward stated that if you are traveling with someone that needs assistance make sure to put your mask on first before you assist those around you. What a real world example of Habit #3 on the list. It is impossible to help those around you if you are not taking care of yourself, or for the sake of our lesson, Filling Your Well. We are called upon daily by our friends, family and employees to fill a need. Heck, even random face to face meetings throughout the day deplete you of resources. In order to fulfill these responsibilities placed upon us, we must replenish our resources by means of routine maintenance.
Below you will find 3 “R”s that if practiced daily can ensure you are equipped with the tools needed when life calls on you.
It’s so simple yet so ignored. Reading is a must for any leader. We must feed ourselves with the experiences and knowledge of those that have gone before us is we want to reach our personal best and help those around us fulfill their potential.
“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary. We must not allow anything to stand between us and the book that could change our lives.” – Jim Rohn
Benefits of Daily reading
- Starts a process of achieving self-mastery: We may not retain 100% of the knowledge that we take in through reading but through the repeated process of digesting data we both expand and sharpen our skill set. It’s a means of equipping and developing.
- It’s the quickest method of gathering valuable information: Through reading we are awarded the opportunity to live multiple lifetimes in the pages of one simple book. Reading does not replace the knowledge we gain through experience but instead ,if applied properly, it multiplies our life knowledge exponentially.
This word means different things to different people. It may mean nightly sleep, vacation, golf with the boys, or all of the above. Regardless of your definitions, you need to find the time to take a break. Some time to just take a deep breath and relax. You can not stay in production mode all the time. It is a mandatory practice amongst successful people to take a moment to heal form the stress of life.
Benefits of taking a break.
- Improved brain function – Fatigue or stress can make it difficult for you to concentrate and retain information. How many times have you said “I don’t know where my head is?” when you’re stressed or tired? When you relax, your brain gets a chance to process the activities and impressions of the day which is important for memory formation and problem solving.
- Overall health – The human body needs adequate rest to heal and rejuvenate itself. Even the most fit of individuals can benefit from a day of leisure.
- Reduces stress – Rest has beneficial effects on your emotional health as well. Starting off the day well-rested makes you feel more capable of handling what life has to offer. If you’re exhausted before you get started, you will never catch up.
At some point during the day you had to handle something that disrupted your schedule or priorities for the day. Take a few minutes to place your priorities back in order and plan the following day.
Benefits of Reorganizing
- It stops the snow ball effect: Taking just a few minutes to put the pieces back in place can keep any chaos that happened during the day from continuing or at least not pick up momentum going into the next day. Don’t fall into the habit of ignoring issues and hoping they’re better tomorrow.
- It keeps your priorities in order:
- It makes us more capable: If we have pre-prepared plan for each day, we feel confident that we are back in control. By knowing the next step you’re taking you are much more likely to be successful at it. We owe it to ourselves and those under our watchful eye to put forth the effort to always look ahead.
Learning to give to others is a building block to becoming a better leader, but creating the habits necessary to make sure there is always something to give is what sets you up for success. Make sure you are taking care of yourselves so that you can take care of the ones you care about.
Another habit that separates leaders from the pack is their ability to replace intent with action. You should never procrastinate when it comes to your future. This may be the most important of all the habits. There is no way to measure the impact of taking your plan and acting upon it each and every day of your life.
I was brought up in a family of doers. I can remember Mom telling us on any given weekend that we needed to get out of the house. She would say “I don’t care what you do but you better go do something, you’re not just going to sit around!” In general, both of my parents had a distaste for idleness. They instilled a belief in me from an early age that in order to reach any milestone in life, you first had to get moving. Many people have no chance of crossing the finish line because they can’t seem to leave the starting line.
During Habit #1 of Taking Responsibility for yourself, you are in the planning phase of life. Those plans must be put to action to be of any real worth. After this step, each of the remaining four habits will deal with physical practices of one form or another. However, what Habit #2 is referring to is the actual transformation from just planning to doing. It’s a lifestyle that must be practiced until it’s second nature.
It’s at this crossroad of changing how we think that we have choices to make. Below are 5 Choices to make so that you can become a person of action.
- Choose to be a positive thinker – More than any other poison that you can let into your personal life and career, negativity is the most-deadly. Every morning you must choose to think positive thoughts about your life and your career. After making positive thoughts a routine part of your day, you will find that you actually begin to expect things to go “right”. That is one of the biggest differences between mediocre and exceptional people, the exceptional ones expect to win.
- Choose to Educate yourself – Don’t wait on the timing to be right. Pick up a book and read it, even if only a few pages a day. Subscribe to a blog that is relevant to your current circumstance. Attend seminars or spend your travels listening to podcasts, you’d be surprised what small bits of wisdom you can gain from these practices. The plan is simple yet effective. Learn something today that you didn’t know yesterday.
- Choose to Do Good – Just as Benjamin Franklin practiced for most of his life, ask yourself every day those two famous questions as he did. “What good shall I do today?” and “What good did I do today?”. These two questions can change your life. Start your morning off with the wonder of how you may help someone and end the day with the accountability needed to ensure you continue this practice. Look for opportunities to help those around you daily and you will find the true reward of a purposeful life.
- Choose to Do Right – John Maxwell states – “Managers do things right, but LEADERS do the RIGHT THING!”. You can make a personal decision to carefully assess each situation throughout the day and do what is fair and honest. In the long run, walking with integrity will always pay off. People will respect you and your family will take notice. Learn to live life without any grey areas. Try to find the line between right and wrong, don’t ignore it. When it comes to your character, ignorance is not bliss.
- Choose to Be Accountable – It’s not comfortable to be exposed with all our flaws. It’s even less comfortable to volunteer that information to people in an effort to improve upon our shortcomings. This, however, is a necessary practice in the quest for self-improvement. Choose people you trust and that have had a level of success you hope to achieve. Once you have these partners, make your plans known to them and be transparent in your actions. This act of accountability will help prevent you from straying too far from the path to success. They can help you avoid the pitfalls that lie off the beaten path because they have traveled that road before.
These choices will help you build a lifestyle of action. All the greatest intentions and ideas aren’t worth anything if we don’t manage to get the wheels turning.
“What we do on some great occasion will depend on what we are. And what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline.” – H.P.Liddon
Last week We had an overview of all six habits of successful people. This week we will focus on the first and most important one.
Take Responsibility for Yourself
The first step towards growing as a leader and as a person is to come to the realization that you are responsible for your own attitude, your own words, and your own actions. Once this becomes a cornerstone of your basic beliefs you can evaluate your shortcomings and make a plan to move forward.
“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself, that is something you have charge of. You don’t have charge of the constellations, but you do have charge of whether you read, develop new skills and take new classes.” – Jim Rohn
6 Helpful Thoughts Regarding Personal Responsibility
- It sets your mind to becoming the best version of yourself – As you develop the habit of assuming responsibility for yourself it keeps your focus on improving yourself as an individual. You will be in a constant state of evaluating your progress and building upon that momentum.
“Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” – Henry Ward Beecher
- It focuses your attention on character traits – To properly take responsibility you must spend time in reflective thinking. You should constantly take the time to focus on the traits that make up our personalities. You realize that it is the character of a person that determines their behavior not their environment.
“You build trust with others each time you choose integrity over image, truth over convenience, or honor over personal gain.” – John Maxwell
- It requires action – it is impossible to take responsibility without taking action. The word “take” on its own is a call to action. It’s a call to seize the moment and not wait for chance…to take that first step.
“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- It cements the law of accountability – It is important to understand that every decision comes with a price to pay. You may be free to choose, but you are never exempt from the cost of that decision.
“That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price on its goods.” – Thomas Paine
- It builds your self-confidence – As you take responsibility for your actions your confidence grows with your new-found sense of ownership. As you start to see yourself as a better version of you, the image looking back from the mirror looks better each day.
- It gives you permission to live a better life – As you follow through with the daily practice of lining your current status up with your aspirations you will become more efficient and thus free for advancement. This will allow your to be rewarded by chasing your dreams more actively.
“A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause your rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the choices you make.” – Denis Waitley
I was visiting with some industry colleagues of mine. Although we hate to admit it, we spent the first ten minutes showing we’re completely human by griping and moaning about the economic forecast, customers, and the labor pool. After coming to grips with our shame, we somehow began talking about various supervisors we have worked alongside in our careers, both recently and in the past. Only a minute or two had passed before it became apparent that one of the main attributes that made these people either exceptionally good or bad was their consistency in carrying out the duties of their position. In other words, their daily habits were either a “make or break” bullet point on their resumes. The great authors of leadership and personal growth have a significant amount of printed space dedicated to the importance of such daily habits.
During my own limited studies of the subject I have developed (and by no means do I claim it is original thought!) a list of 6 habits that most any successful person must practice to continue if they wish to grow both professionally as well as individually. Truth be told, over time I have merely watched successful people and copied what worked for them. I’ve never been one to believe that I can pronounce the word “Wheel” in a sexier manner much less make it roll better.
This week I’ll touch on an overview of these habits and then over the next six weeks we will look at each one separately.
- Take responsibility for yourself: The first step towards growing as a leader and as a person is to come to the realization that you are responsible for your own attitude, words, and actions. Once this becomes part of your basic beliefs you can evaluate your shortcomings and make a plan to move forward. Your plan can be as simple as: Starting, Educating, Reflecting, Correcting, and Repeating. Yes, I did mean for Starting to be first!
- Take Action: The next step to growing is acting. Now that you’ve made a plan, you need to act on it. Never procrastinate when it comes to your future. This is possibly the most important of all of the habits. There is no way to measure the importance of, taking your plan and acting upon it each and every day. Many people will tell you that you need to prepare before getting started. True personal growth will be accelerated when you understand that preparation is an ongoing part of the journey, not a prelude to it.
- Fill Your Well: Treat your mind as a well that you and the people under your influence draw from for support and sustenance. For you to lead others properly you must retain enough knowledge and resources to give to your team and not run out. Education must become part of your daily routine so that you don’t run dry as a leader.
- Take Time to Reflect: Reflection is one of the more advanced habits of successful people. Too many people have the drive to push forward but not the discipline to stop and learn from past experiences and mistakes. It is in this reflection that we modify our past plans to make better our future plans. Remember that “What was good enough to get you here, may not necessarily be good enough to get you where you’re going!”
- Help Others: All of the habits we form to become more developed leaders, and hopefully better people, should be for this one reason, to help others. If you live your life so that other’s lives are fulfilled, you will find your true purpose as a leader.
- Never Stop, Do it all over again: Finally we must come to the realization that growth is a continual process. Truly successful people know that they can never stop these daily practices if they want to continue to grow. Once you have become efficient at each of these habits you will learn to recognize the opportunities to practice each of them, even if only in a small way, every day.
I’ve always been amazed as I look back on the monumental feats of man over the years. Whether it was an against-the-odds invention, a historic speech, or some heroic action, there is one thing they usually have in common. They were usually accomplished by individuals with an extraordinary way of thinking. These giants of our times have always been able to resist the urge to keep trying the same thing and expecting different results. Instead, they stepped out of society’s routine and looked for different solutions to the same old problems.
There are certain practices that many of the greatest “Thinkers” have in common. These traits are obtainable to all of us through the practice of daily habits. If you’re no longer content with settling for the status quo, try adhering to these “life-rules” for a while and see if they can’t get rid of your “Stinkin-Thinkin”.
Whether you think you can, or think you can’t… you’re right – Henry Ford
- They are Optimistic. Mental Champions recognize that it is our own choice as to how we will approach the day. From time to time we may be victims of circumstance but that doesn’t mean we have to wallow in it. We can choose whether we will focus our attention and energy on positive thoughts or on negative thoughts. Where we place our thoughts and energy is in essence where we live. Choose to spend your life in a positive place.
- They are Thankful. They realize that regardless of the size of the blessings in their lives, they ought to be thankful for them. It could always be worse and with the right attitude, it can always be better. This act of reflecting on the good things in life has a way of bringing the desire to create other good things to life.
- They respect Solitude. Most of the great things these Powerful Thinkers have accomplished throughout history have been for the good of others. Their good fruits are reaped amongst the masses but that is not where the seed is sown. Great thinkers must be alone to their thoughts. Their best ideas come while holding dialogue with the genius within. They are not scared to face their fears, insecurities, or shortcomings, for it’s within those weaknesses that they oftentimes find their strengths.
- They are Good Stewards. This one is debatable by many. Sure many of the ancient philosophers and inventors were not health nuts, but most of the theories of health-for-smart people has come about in modern times. Studies have now proven without a doubt that a healthy diet and workout regimine will most definitely boost your brain-power. The discoveries of the Power Thinkers of old are why this is an accepted practice today.
- They ride the Wave of Others. Brilliant people know better than to associate with life suckers who bring them down. It is very difficult to soar far above those we hang out with. It’s been proven more often than not that you become some version of the people you are with the most. If you want to change your way of thinking and accomplish more, than hang out with a positive and creative crowd.
- They follow a Growth Routine. Simply thinking creatively isn’t enough. You can’t continue to draw from an empty well. Great thinkers respect the need to keep fueling the machine. There are many ways to accomplish this. Whether you choose daily reading, podcast, or audiobooks, just make sure that you have a daily ritual of putting inspirational content into the story you are writing.
- They Focus on The Prize. Intellectual warriors stay focused on victory. They have an idea of where they want to be, and who they want to be. Everything else is simply trying to get there. By staying focused on the end goal, you are not spending so much time focusing on the every-day obstacles.
We could easily come up with a dozen more practices of positive thinkers but the above list is a great starting point and one that has made a difference in my life. The mind is a powerful thing and when we learn that we are responsible for its thoughts, the sky is no longer the limit.
“When we take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions…the sky is no longer our limit but instead our canvas”