Creating the Mental Sub-routines of a Successful Life!
Roger Reid | Season of the Lion
It’s been called the brass ring and pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but regardless of the metaphor, all of us want to experience more success in our lives. And while the definition of success is a little different for everyone, most agree that being happy, financially secure, and in control of your own destiny is a big part of it.
So how do we make sure we’re on the right path, taking the right steps that, over time, will eventually lead us to our goal? Classic time management and personal achievement advice reminds us of the importance of keeping our objectives in front of us, focusing on the significantly important instead of the urgently trivial.
It sounds simple and straightforward, but all of us know how quickly a day can become derailed with phone calls, meetings, and last minute requests from customers and supervisors.
The better answer? A set of mental sub-routines that act as a kind of auto-pilot, guiding and directing our actions so we are regularly engaged in creating new opportunities, establishing new professional relationships, and consistently making a trustworthy and reliable impression on others.
Here’s a list of my personal sub-routines for success. Feel free to borrow, edit, or alter them to suit your specific circumstances and life goals.
Be the boss. Take charge of your life. If you’re not making things happen, no one else will do it for you. Create a plan based on taking action and then break it down into manageable, daily steps. What happens if you don’t? Do nothing and you’ll typically end up in the same place, doing the same thing in five, or ten, or twenty years. Is that okay? Remember, you’re the boss, so you get to decide.
“If you’re waiting around for someone to turn you on,what happens if they never show up?” – Jim Rohn
Realize there are no limits to what is possible. Believing you can is the first and arguably the most important step in accomplishing your goals. Your lot in life is dependent upon what you believe you deserve. Therapists claim the number one problem with their patients is either low self-esteem or self-defeating behavior, or a combination of both. But real achievers choose action over excuses. You don’t need a lot of reframing or psycho-babble to get this one on your side. Try these three steps: (1) Decide what you want, (2) Visualize yourself accomplishing it, (3) Determine your first step and take it.
There are no “little people” or “little jobs.” The minute you classify someone as beneath you or less important, you’ve just built a wall. One of the most important characteristics of the successful is being approachable. Regardless of rank or position, financial status or birthright, we all have the same need. We want to be acknowledged for what we do, recognized for who we are, and appreciated for both. Treat everyone with respect, not because of what they do, but because they deserve a chance to contribute something of value.
While in public, act as if someone is watching – because they are! Your actions and behavior should always reflect the better you. True story: A couple years ago, I was in a restaurant and walked outside to buy a newspaper. I noticed the machine had been left open, so I lifted the door and removed a paper, then deposited two dollars in quarters (Sunday edition), and shut the machine. Thirty minutes later I was standing in line to pay the bill and was approached by a stranger who said, “If anyone wants a character reference, refer them to me. I’ll tell them you’re an honest man.” Turns out, the guy was a corporate attorney for Keller Williams and after exchanging business cards, he became another networking business reference in our industry. Bottom line? You never know who’s watching, so let them “catch” you doing something right.
Never settle. Good enough usually isn’t. Others will view the quality of your work as a reflection of your attitude and commitment. Leaving a job half-done or taking short cuts may keep others from developing the level of confidence they need to trust you with more important and/or expensive work.
Never compromise your integrity. While it’s true a lot of life falls into the gray area, in most cases, you clearly know what’s right and wrong. Taking advantage of the less intelligent, inexperienced, or those in desperate circumstances is not only wrong, it can return a similar reward (if not in this life, perhaps in the next?)
Value and protect your personal and professional relationships. You may need an introduction, a recommendation, or maybe an “insiders” opinion of some area of business unfamiliar to you. Professional organizations are a good place to start. And don’t think your “networking” contacts must be at an equal or superior professional level. I know of one entrepreneur who found the greatest value in networking came from administrative assistants (folks we used to call secretaries), since they were the few people in any company who actually knew what was going on and could describe the company’s current activities in detail.
Realize the road to success is paved with failure. Learn from it. Determine what you could have done to produce a different outcome. The only problem with failure is letting it stop you. There are opportunities everywhere, and they’re much easier to recognize when you’re ready. One of the most valuable outcomes of failure is being ready to succeed the second time.
Let others know how you expect to be treated. Unfortunately, not everyone plays by the rules. There are arrogant and abusive people out there who will test your limits just to see what they can get away with. Don’t let them. Politely explain you will not tolerate attacks on your character or person. If they persist, you have two choices: Take legal action or get as far away from them as possible (or both). These kinds of people have no place in your life. They rob you of cognitive objectivity – the capacity to enjoy the positive, enjoyable aspects of just being alive.
Enjoy the ride: When successful people look back on the struggles and sacrifices necessary to reach their goals, they often consider them to be the best times of their life—especially when their efforts and sacrifice were balanced with gratitude and appreciation. Enjoy the journey. Take vacations. Visit with friends. Spend private time with your spouse. In the end, life is made up of all the day-to-day experiences we collect in a lifetime of living. Waiting to enjoy your life until you achieve some level of professional recognition or arbitrary financial status is taking a huge risk. I’ve met far too many people who’ve worked their entire life in the accumulation of wealth and status who’ve told me if they could do it over, they’d have very different priorities—on a wife they miss every day, on their kids who rarely speak to them, and on appreciating the value of being in the moment, just enjoying each day as it unfolds.
“There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.”