The Ten Commandments
As we spend the dark evenings and chilly days hunched over laptops planning the first quarter of 2021 and trying to forget our recently chosen New Year's resolutions, I want to bring you some fundamental habits of high achieving, affluent individuals. Each as important as the next and each as demonstrated by successful people of influence. Forget your New Year's Resolutions now, let's redefine success using manageable lifestyle changes...
Clinical Psychologist and all-round academic success, Harriet learner, teaches us that apologies are paramount to living a wholehearted and prosperous life. It is important that apologies are appropriate and take direct responsibility for the situation without a hint of blame or excuse. Successful people make it a choice to accept responsibility for their actions and understand the strength that this will carry in both their business and personal life.
2.Asking for Help
Look to any successful individual and you will see them surrounded by like-minded, equally successfully individuals. Surrounding yourself with a support network of equals that respect and accept each other gives you the safety net you need when help is required. High achievers are not afraid to reach out to their peers in times of adversity for support, acknowledgement and encouragement. "No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main."- John Donne, 16th century poet and scholar.
3. Scheduling Playtime
Play is defined as 'time spent without purpose' and is the sober companion of the recovering workaholic. Thriving people understand that it is uniquely rewarding, generating optimism, fostering empathy, cultivating innovation and fine-tuning technical ability. It forms a deep sense of true belonging and should be worked into even the most complicated of schedules. When we look to figures of influence such as the Obamas, Richard Branson and Bill & Melinda Gates, high achievers are rarely found twiddling their thumbs, constructive play is a ritual.
4. Avoiding Perfection Paralysis
In business it's easy to get stuck in the boggy quagmire of Perfection Paralysis. It's easy to spend weeks stewing over the launch of a new project or product and never actually get it out of the starting blocks. Perfectionism is a way to protect ourselves from harsh feedback and the difficult opinions of others, when we predict we will feel emotionally exposed. It ensures our work is of the highest possible standard, it's our armour. But it can leave us frozen and unable to present our work to the world for fear of its imperfections. It can feel lonely and un-productive. 'If striving for excellence motivates you, striving for perfection demoralises you'- Harriet Braiker, author and social psychologist. Successful people remember to choose excellence over perfectionism and appreciate the imperfect as part of the project's evolutionary process.
5.An Attitude of Gratitude
Influential and affluent people understand that gratitude isn't just something you show when you receive a birthday gift or the intern brings you a coffee. They understand that it is a daily practice and lifestyle choice. To feel in a constant state of gratitude for all things and people in your life is the true attitude of gratitude. It is a difficult practice at times, especially when negative things are happening, but successful people actively seek out the nuances within a situation, to be grateful for.
There's an image painted across our consciousness of what success looks like. From our Facebook feeds to the reality TV show you eat your takeaway in front of, we are constantly being told what success is meant to look like. But the answer to true success and true happiness starts with understanding your own definition of the word. What does success look like for you? Those that consider themselves successful are practiced at self-enquiry to pin-point exactly what lifestyle brings them that spark of happiness. They work to design a life they choose and embrace the good with the bad.
The ability to feel comfortable with vulnerability is in direct relation to our ability to create, innovate and progress in the field of business. High achievers know that if we wear our egos like armour and fight with weapons of academic intellect and passive aggression, we will never reach our true professional and creative potential. To truly innovate and cultivate original work, successful people must take emotional risks that drive us well out of our comfort zones.
To be creative we need to get comfortable with our own emotional exposure and listen to the words of the great Theodore Roosevelt, more recently given new life by the American author and shame researcher Brene Brown...
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
8.Feeling the Fear
'Fear makes the wolf look bigger than he is'- German Proverb.
Everything you want in your life is waiting for you on the other side of fear. Fear of getting it wrong, fear of other people's opinions, fear of commitment, fear of failing... the list of pre-conditioned fears sits in our brains like the cuckoo in the nest. Successful people habitually peel their desperate, white knuckled grip, one finger at a time off the handle bars of their own limiting thoughts... and set themselves free. Make it a habit to be aware of fear, it's a deeply rooted and instinctual response, but don't let it steer your sails. Especially not in stormy seas. High achievers practice quietening their mind and making informed decisions rather than frightening 'risks'.
Time management is a daily habit of high achievers. Feeling overwhelmed causes us to withdraw, disconnect and feel alone. It feels like we can't get off the hamster wheel because it's going too fast. The 'mental load' can feel crushing. Eminent people learn to set their focus on the ideas that are right for them and operate from a business culture of abundance and trust rather than fear and scarcity. Brilliantly described by the late pioneer of computer science and personal technology, Steve Jobs, 'People think 'focus' means saying 'yes' to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying 'no' to the hundred other good ideas out there'
10.Daring to Dream
Successful people dare to dream. They understand that accepting only what you see will never change what you see. In the wonderful words of Gloria Steinem, American social activist and described as the mother of feminism, 'Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.' To take a dream and apply strategy makes it a business objective with a detailed road map of how to get there.
Cast off the remnants of 2020 and look to your future self by weaving some of these healthy habits into your personal and professional life. The new year marked the beginning of another 365 days around the sun, let’s make the most of them, enjoy the journey and redefine success!